What to Ask During Your Job Interview
Table of Contents
- Preparing questions for an interview
- What to ask in each interview stage
- Questions about the job
- Questions about the company
- Questions about the team
- Questions about the culture
- Questions about growth opportunities
- Questions about next steps
- What not to ask in an interview
- Land more interviews with a customized resume
- Additional resources
Here are more resources that can help you
The job interview is your chance to learn as much as you can from a potential employer. And, they’ll expect you to ask questions. Remember, not every job will be right for you. To know if a job is the right fit, check out our guide below which includes 55 great interview questions. You’ll find questions about the role, company, work environment, as well as helpful tips about when and how to ask these questions.
Preparing questions for an interview
The key to an outstanding interview is being as prepared as possible. Follow these suggestions and assemble a compelling list of queries that will impress any interviewer.
Make a list of your top questions.
You should have between 10 and 15 questions in your list. Evaluate which are most important to you, and establish your top 5. These are the ones you absolutely need to be answered. After asking them, and if there’s time left in your interview, you can go through the rest of your list.
Remember that it’s normal for some of them to be answered as you talk with your interviewer. That’s a good sign! However, preparing a broad list saves you from ending up empty-handed when it’s your turn to ask.
Order and timing of your questions.
The ordering says a lot about your priorities. Start with what matters most: the job and the company. Then move on to your specific needs as an employee. Leave the topic of salary and benefits toward the end of your interview.
Be mindful of how long your interview process will be. If you know you’ll interview with more than one person, you don’t need to ask all your questions on your first round.
Remember to listen.
An interview should be a conversation. Forcing a script will limit your chances of having an engaging discussion. Instead, actively listen to the interviewer’s answers. Their responses might touch on questions you were planning to ask. Listening attentively will help you avoid asking things that have already been discussed.
Delivery of your questions.
What you ask is as important as how you ask it. Avoid sounding defensive, impolite or arrogant. Practice reading your questions out loud so you sound coherent and professional.
What to ask in each interview stage
Most interviews can be broken down into three main stages: the screening, the phone, video, or in-person interview, and the team interview. As your interviews advance, the questions will become more specific and individualized. Organize your questions based on these three stages and ask them in the appropriate order.
First stage: The screening
In this interview, you will talk with a recruiter or hiring manager. They’ll make sure you meet all the requirements for the job. You should ask questions that concern the job and the culture, like: how many team members you’ll have, who you’ll report to, what are the metrics of success, and what the work environment is like.
Second stage: The phone, video, or in-person interview
When you pass to the in-person interview, you’ve caught the employer’s interest. This is where you’ll ask the bulk of your questions, so be absolutely prepared. Topics you will discuss are the job, the company, the team, culture, and growth opportunities. Ask what the day-to-day looks like, which departments you’ll collaborate with, what the company’s main objectives are, and what accomplishments will be expected of you.
Third stage: The team interview
Some companies will also want you to interview with future co-workers. This is a chance for you to know if you’re a culture fit. Ask questions related to the team and the culture, such as: how they tackle giving and receiving feedback, if the team members collaborate with each other, and what obstacles they faced when they started.
By the end of this interview process, you should be able to decide if this role is right for you.
Questions about the job
Ask these questions to understand your work responsibilities, what daily life in this role will look like, and the main goals you need to achieve. Before you ask some of these, make sure they’re not already answered in the job’s description.
- What are the main skills and experiences needed to excel in this role?
- Who would I be directly reporting to?
- Can you tell me about the onboarding process?
- Will I undergo any training for this job before formally joining?
- How many people will I be working with?
- Is this a new role in the company? What prompted you to create this role?
- What is a typical day like for someone in this role?
- What are some immediate projects I would be working on?
- What are the top priorities you would want me to focus on if I got this job?
- Can you show me examples of similar projects I would be executing?
- What are some of the biggest challenges someone in this position would face?
- What is the company currently trying to achieve by filling this role?
- Is there an exact budget I would be managing in this role?
- Do you expect my responsibilities to change in the next six months to a year?
Questions about the company
A workplace that matches your personality and working style will make doing your job much easier. Get to know the company and its leadership by asking the following questions:
- What are the company’s main goals for the next few years?
- How does the company think this role will fulfill its objectives?
- What do you think are the biggest challenges this company currently faces?
- What are the areas of opportunity the company/this department should be tackling right now?
- How many new products does the company launch each year?
- What have been the top achievements for the company this past year?
- How would employees describe the company and its leadership?
- What management style does this company encourage?
- How much exposure do employees have to the executive leadership? How is that relationship?
- What advice would you give me to thrive in this company?
Questions about the team
If you’re allowed to interview with potential team members, use this opportunity to get a comprehensive view of your future workplace. These questions also let you discern if everyone’s perspectives of the job align. If you only interview with one person, ask them about the team you’d be working with. A couple of questions you could ask are:
- Can you tell me about the team I will be joining?
- Who will I be working most closely with?
- How many people are in this team/department?
- Does the company expect to hire more people in this department in the near future?
- With what other departments will I be collaborating?
- What are the biggest challenges this team faces when working with other departments within the company?
- What is the process for launching and executing projects within this team?
- Would you say this team works independently or collaboratively?
Questions about the culture
A company’s culture is defined by the shared values of each team member. The way your coworkers interact with each other can impact how well you do your job. Make sure you’re in your ideal workplace by asking these questions about company culture:
- How would you describe the work environment?
- What kind of team-building activities does the company do and how often?
- Do you ever do events with other departments or companies?
- Do team members go out for lunch together or socialize after work?
- How is working here different from your previous jobs?
- How has the company changed since you joined?
- Does the company encourage any type of volunteering or community service?
- Do you have any office traditions?
- How competitive are the employees?
- What do you think is the consensus about work-life balance?
Questions about growth opportunities
As you envision your future in the company, you want to know if you can advance in this role. Ask these questions so you can learn about any potential growth opportunities.
- How can I grow in this role?
- Are there professional advancement opportunities in this company?
- Do you offer continuing education or professional training for your employees?
- What is a common career path for people who’ve been in this position?
- Do you have a mentor system or program in place?
- Do you see this role expanding in the future?
- Will I be able to participate in industry conferences representing the company?
Questions about next steps
As your interviews come to a close, you want to know what to expect from the decision-making process. Ask these questions to make sure both parties have all the information needed to make a decision:
- Is there anything else I can provide you to reach a decision?
- Do you have any concerns about my background being a good fit for this role?
- Are there any final questions I can answer for you?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- What would be an appropriate time for me to follow up with you?
What not to ask in an interview
You should avoid questions that will make employers doubt your professionalism. Stay away from questions like these in your interview:
Don’t ask: “How much are you going to pay me?”
Questions about salary are a delicate topic. You should never ask about wages in your first interview. Usually, employers will inform you of salary and benefits when they’re ready to make a job offer. If you’re in the last stages of your interview process and the employer hasn’t mentioned the topic at all, you’re entitled to ask about it.
Try to phrase it tactfully like: “Can you give me an idea of what the company has budgeted for this role’s compensation?”
Don’t ask: “Can I come in late or leave early if I get my work done?”
A good work-life balance is necessary to be a productive employee. However, you don’t want to sound like you’re already dreading the job.
Phrase this concern appropriately by asking: “How does the company encourage a healthy work-life balance for its employees?”
Don’t ask: “When will I be considered for a promotion?”
Ambition is an attractive professional trait, but don’t ask this before you’ve had a chance to understand your responsibilities and actually perform.
Avoid looking like you’re only interested in a raise by asking: “Can you tell me about the performance review process and how I can maximize its benefits?”
Don’t ask: “Do you conduct background checks?”
Asking if the company will investigate you makes you look suspicious. We advise you to stay away from this topic altogether, but if you feel the need to address it, try something like:
“Please let me know if I can help clarify anything about my professional or personal background.”
Don’t ask anything you can Google.
Asking questions about the company’s competition or recent projects might seem smart. However, if those answers are easily searchable, you’ll seem like you couldn’t be bothered to conduct a basic Google search.
You can learn a lot about a company by browsing its webpage, its social media accounts, and its LinkedIn profile. If you see something during your research that caught your attention, mention it in the interview. Your future employer will be impressed that you did your homework beforehand.
How do you close an interview?
As you get ready to close an interview, make sure your interviewer has all the information they need to reach a decision. Ask about the next steps of the interview process and when you should follow up. Remember to thank the interviewer for their time. Finish by directly communicating your desire for a job offer.
What are some unique interview questions?
Stand out in your interview by asking unique questions that extend beyond the job’s requirements — questions that show you’re determined to bring solutions. For example:
- What is the biggest problem facing the team right now?
- How effective is the internal communication between departments and how can this role maximize those efforts?
- How many brainstorming meetings does the company have to discuss new projects and ventures?
Showcasing your personality will also help you connect with your interviewer individually. You should always remain professional, but expressing confidence and honesty is refreshing.
Include conversation-starters that allow you to connect. For example:
- What do you like most about working here?
- Can you describe a project you’re especially proud of?
- What unexpected skills have helped you do a better job here?
Is it OK to bring notes to the interview?
Yes, bringing notes to an interview is perfectly fine. If you’re interviewing for different jobs, it’s helpful to note key information from each interview. Just make sure you don’t spend too much time writing things down than engaging with the interviewer.