No matter how prepared you are, a job interview is a nerve-wracking experience. You have to answer a torrent of questions on the spot and sell yourself to a hiring manager, sometimes even a room full of strangers. And when the time comes for you to apply, will you be ready?
It’s quite common these days for an interviewer to conclude by asking if you have any questions about the position. And what you ask can make or break your chances.
We spoke with recruiters, hiring managers, and people who landed jobs to learn the best questions to ask if you want to impress the interviewer and glean important insights into your potential new position.
1. What made you choose my CV for an interview?
“As someone who has hired interns and junior staff for the past 10 years, the most memorable question a candidate asked me was this. It flipped the script for me because I was so used to asking, “Why should we hire you?” Instead, I had to tell her what I liked about her experience and her application, which is absolutely great insight to receive during the interview process. It’s like getting free career advice. ― Laura Meditz, Vice President of Poston Communications
2. What are the biggest challenges facing your company/department today?
“I like to ask this question to get a real sense of what they need most in their business. It could be a specific skill, improved processes, or just additional resources to handle the workload. The answers to this question will help you understand what your job will entail and give you the opportunity to explain how you might overcome your employer’s biggest challenge.On the other hand, if their biggest difficulty does not match your skills or expectations, this could be a useful red flag before accepting a new job. Daniel Buchuk, Communications Director at Bringg
3. What differentiates you from your competitors?
When I applied for my current job, I asked about the company’s competitors and how they differed. It’s a good question to ask, because companies want to see that you’re diligent enough to do your homework before the meeting and that you have a genuine interest in the field you’re heading into. ― Casey Hill, blogger at Musings of Entrepreneurship
4. Can you give me an example of how you live the values of the company?
“I like to know what values the company promotes on its career page — passion, integrity, responsibility, etc. — and I will ask the interviewer how he lives one or more of these values, especially as a manager. If the interviewer is stunned, it usually shows that the values are nothing more than empty messages. If they can answer the question, it shows that the company believes in its values and instills its values in employees and that the interviewer is likely a thoughtful manager. » ― Jennifer Bewley from Get Uncuffed
5. What is your training program?
“I have found that reputable companies would answer this question by saying that the training period is as long as necessary for a new employee. Rushed or rushed training to meet a quota or deadline is not an effective way to find trustworthy and reliable employees. Every new job comes with a learning curve; a good company will provide extensive training and help employees learn all the skills they need to be successful in the business. ― Carlee Linden, writer for Best Company
6. What recent diversity hiring and promotion efforts are you most excited about?
“As a woman of color who also wants to advance in her career, I often ask questions that would give me some insight into the company’s diversity efforts. I also almost always follow that question when requesting an office tour. You would be surprised what you can glean just by walking around. It gives me some insight into whether their response is canned or truly embodied in the organization. ― Stella Odogwu, Founder and CEO of Intelle Coaching Solutions
7. What do you enjoy most about working here?
“First of all, if the interviewer can’t answer that question, there should be sirens in your head that this might not be the best place to work. That said, most of the time, this allows you to get personal with the interviewer and allow them to talk about themselves for a change.This mutual exchange results in a stronger bond while allowing you to learn more about some of the great things the interviewer does. company has to offer.” ― Alex Benjamin, Professional Recruiter and Resume Writing Service Owner Recruiter writes
8. What do top performing team members do differently than the average team member?
“If there’s one thing interviewees could do to help them stand out from other candidates, it would be to be bold, speak with confidence, and ask questions that suggest you’re a high achiever looking for to be successful with the company. This question shows a willingness to surpass mediocrity while learning more about the expectations of the job required to achieve excellence in the job. ― Emily LaRusch, CEO and Founder of Back Office Betties
9. How will you know if you’ve hired the right person in three months?
“I like this question because as a job seeker, it gives you a clear idea of the hiring manager’s goals, expectations, and objectives for you if you get hired. It also gives you a chance to pause and consider if the response sounds like things you’ll enjoy. This can add a little more clarity to the work and the results the company hopes to achieve from this role. ― Helen Godfrey, Owner of Career Services the authentic path
10. How would your colleagues describe your management style?
“It’s important to ask questions about your potential manager’s leadership style, but not just how they feel about themselves. Asking what their peers and direct reports would say about their management style is essential – even better if they are open to you talking to one of their direct reports about their leadership. A manager can make or break a job, so getting more context around the people you’ll be working most closely with will help with decision making. ― Julia Missaggia, human resources director at CMI/Compas
11. Can you show me around before concluding?
“That question allows candidates to differentiate themselves at the end of their interviews by creating a unique interviewer experience that will not be shared with other candidates. In fact, I still remember my interview many years ago with a candidate who asked me this question. This breaks up recruiters’ routines and forces them to leave the interview room and interact more naturally with the candidate. ― Peter Yang, co-founder of CVGo
Some additional tips for a successful interview:
Stick to open-ended questions. Even though job interviews may look like interrogations, they are meant to be conversations between you and the interviewer. To keep the conversation flowing, avoid questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”
Don’t ask questions with obvious answers. You shouldn’t ask questions just for the sake of asking; investigators will see through you. Do your research ahead of time and avoid asking for basic information that could easily be found on the company’s website.
Be respectful of everyone’s time. The interviewer probably has many other job interviews to conduct in addition to regular meetings and duties. Choose two or three important questions to ask rather than blocking them with all 11. Better yet, try to integrate your questions throughout the conversation instead of waiting until the end of the interview.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed a quote to Carly Kuper. Julia Missaggia of CMI/Compas was the source of the quote.