Remember, an interview is a two-way street. Your potential employer is asking you questions to learn about you and your skills. But they are being interviewed by you as much as you are by them.
If you don’t prepare smart questions to ask in an interview, you run the risk of the hiring manager assuming you aren’t interested or haven’t prepared.
Your opportunity to ask questions usually comes at the end of the interview. You must prepare at least two questions. that demonstrate your interest in the position, your drive to excel in the role, and the fact that you’ve done some homework (researched company, industry, department).
So how do you come up with these smart questions to ask in an interview that show you’re the perfect hire?
For starters, as you conduct your pre-interview research, make note of topics that you’d like to ask about.
This will give you a great sample of ideas to use as questions and will genuinely be information you want to know.
Keep in mind that the best questions to ask in an interview are focused and open-ended.
Pro Tip: Avoid “yes” or “no” questions and avoid questions that are so broad that they are difficult to answer. You don’t want to stump the interviewer when you’re trying to make a good impression and develop rapport.
Still not sure what to ask? We have some proven examples of good questions to ask in an interview:
Job-Related Questions to Ask in an Interview
These are the kinds of questions to ask in an interview when you’re trying to get to the heart of what it will be like to actually be doing this job daily. The questions you ask your interviewer will help you determine if this is a job you will like and thrive in.
1. Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
This is your chance to learn as much as possible about the role so you can decide whether this is a job you really want. By learning more about the day-to-day tasks, you will also gain more insight into what specific skills and strengths are needed and you can address any topics that haven’t already been covered.
2. What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this job?
This question can often lead to valuable information that’s not in the job description. It can help you learn about the company culture and expectations so you can show that you are a good fit.
3. What do you think are some of the biggest challenges for someone in this job?
This question gives you a heads-up about the more challenging things you may face on the job. Too often, a candidate doesn’t find out the whole picture until they’re already hired and it can sometimes be an unpleasant surprise.
4. Do you expect the primary responsibilities of this role to change in the next six months to a year?
This is another great question to get a feel for the lay of the land when it comes to their vision for your position and how it may grow. It’s best to be armed with as much information as possible when considering accepting a position, and questions like this one will be invaluable to you as you navigate that decision.
5. Can you discuss the projects that need to be immediately addressed by the person you hire?
What will you be jumping into? Are they filling the role in order to try and handle a crisis, or will you be managing a well-oiled machine?
6. Would I be undergoing any training before starting work?
Sometimes the onboarding process requires some type of training to get you up to speed or as part of mandated regulations, such as safety or diversity training. This interview question may be more relevant in some positions than others.
Company Questions to Ask in an Interview
The company being a good fit is just as important as liking the daily responsibilities of your job. Will you feel supported? Do your values align? Do you agree with their policies and treatment of employees? These are all important things to discover when you’re thinking through questions to ask in an interview.
7. Describe the culture of the company.
Are you a good fit for this particular organization? Make sure you are comfortable with the culture and the dynamic of the company.
8. Where do you think the company is headed in the next 5 years?
If you plan to be in this role for several years, make sure the company is growing so you can grow with the company.
9. Who do you consider your top competitor, and why?
You should already have an idea of the company’s major competitors, but it can be useful to ask your interviewer for their thoughts. Naturally, they will be able to give you the insight you can’t find anywhere else.
10. What are the biggest opportunities facing the company/department right now?
This question shows your drive to seize the opportunity and may help you learn more about where the company will be focusing over the next several months.
11. What are the biggest challenges facing the company/department right now?
On the flip side, you may want to ask about challenges. This question can help you uncover trends and issues in the industry and perhaps identify areas where your skills could save the day.
12. What do you like best about working for this company?
Ask about your interviewer’s personal experience for additional insight into the company’s culture.
Role-Specific Questions to Ask in an Interview
Role-specific questions are questions to ask in an interview that pertain to your job role in the overall function of the company and what opportunities there are for you to expand and grow in your job. These questions are particularly useful to ask your interviewer if you are looking for a lot of career growth potential or really want to dial in on what the expectations are for you in this job.
13. What is the typical career path for someone in this role?
This question can help you learn whether the company promotes from within, and how career advancement works within the organization. By asking this question, you show your interest in growing with the organization — just be careful not to phrase it in a way that sounds too self-serving (i.e. When can I expect a raise and a promotion?).
14. How do I compare with the other candidates you’ve interviewed for this role?
This is a slightly risky choice. You don’t want to put the interviewer in an awkward position. However, if things are going well and you’ve built a strong rapport, this question can help you see if there are any concerns or issues that you could address to show why you’re the best person for the job.
15. What are your expectations for this role during the first 30 days, 60 days, a year?
Find out what your employer’s expectations are for the person in this position.
16. Can you tell me more about the team I will be working with?
Most roles require working as a member of a team. Learning more about the different positions and personalities on that team is some great information to have when determining your fit and what day-to-day life will be like for you on the job.
Hiring Process Questions to Ask in an Interview
One of the hardest parts of job searching is the constant unknowns. Hiring process questions are good questions to ask in an interview to give you a sense of what’s going to happen next, how quickly they are looking to fill the position, and give you an opportunity to finish the interview as strongly as you started.
17. What are the next steps in the interview process?
This question shows that you are eager to move forward in the process. It will also help you gain important information about the timeline for hiring so that you can follow up appropriately.
18. Do you have an ideal start date in mind?
This is another way to get an understanding of their timeline and when you can expect to hear from them.
19. Are there any further details I can provide that will be helpful?
This question allows your interviewer to circle back to anything that concerns them about your experience or resume without phrasing the question negatively such as asking, “is there anything that concerns you about my fit for this role?” You don’t want them to be thinking of reasons not to hire you, but you do want to have the opportunity to explain yourself if the interviewer has doubts about your qualifications.
20. Do you have any further questions to ask me?
This can be a less-detailed alternative question to the above. It leaves the door open for the interviewer to ask for clarification on one last thing before concluding the interview.
Questions to Ask in an Interview: Final Thoughts
When you’re thinking about questions to ask an interviewer, remember that your goal is to appear like someone who has done their research on the company, is enthusiastic about the position, and eager to get started.
You don’t want to raise any red flags or sow seeds of doubt or negativity about your qualifications or professionalism.
To help avoid this, when it comes to questions to ask in an interview, you should not ask about salary and benefits just yet.
Wait until you are in the final steps of the interview process to negotiate your compensation package with the hiring manager or HR representative. (It’s also a good idea to read up on how to answer “what are your salary expectations?” in case that question arises in your interview.)
Now that you are prepared with strong questions to ask in an interview, don’t forget to practice aloud to help build confidence when the big day rolls around.