10 questions you NEED to ask at your next job interview
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Job interviews aren’t only for employers to learn about candidates. They are also an opportunity for candidates to ask questions and learn more about the role they are applying to. The interview might be the only face-to-face meeting you have with someone from the company before they make their hiring decision, so it is important that you don’t waste your chance to learn what you can about the workplace, the role, and the company culture. With the right questions, you can learn more about a position in the interview than you could ever learn from the job posting or company website.

Why is it important to ask questions?

The interview stage of the hiring process is the best opportunity you have to find out if this job is a good fit for you. Asking questions can help you learn about company culture, about things like office hours and team-building, about the responsibilities and workflows of the role, about your coworkers, and more. If you have any concerns about the role or the interview questions, you can also have the interviewer clarify them. The interview is the time to ask about anything you might be curious about, and anything that will help you decide if you are interested in the role.

Further, asking questions will reflect well on you as a candidate. Interviewers want to see that you are engaged and enthusiastic, and intelligent questions about the position and team will show that you are both. Interviewers will appreciate your curiosity.

3 questions you should avoid asking

The old saying that “there are no stupid questions” doesn’t apply here. Questions that show that you haven’t been paying attention or haven’t done your research will make you seem distracted or uninterested. It is important to make sure that your questions are sensible and will reflect well on you as a candidate.

Here are some questions that you should avoid:

What does this company do? What will my responsibilities be in this role?

You should have researched these questions before applying for the job, let alone attending the interview. Any question revealing that you haven’t done any research and aren’t prepared for the interview will make you seem apathetic and lazy. You should appear well-informed and prepared throughout the interview.

When can I take time off? Will I have to work weekends?

While these are real concerns, asking questions like this will make you seem uninterested in the job and more concerned with your vacations. Wait until you have been offered the job to ask about taking time off, and if you want to know more about the hours you can expect to work, try to phrase the question more subtly. Questions like “what does a typical work week look like?” or “what hours can I expect to work in a typical shift?” will be better received.

Personal questions that don’t directly pertain to the job

While some small talk is expected, asking too many questions that aren’t about the company or is not productive. You may think that you can create a connection with the interviewer by asking about their personal lives, but any time spent bonding over hobbies would be better spent discussing the job. A job interview is a professional setting, after all.

Great questions to ask during an interview

The questions you do ask are, of course, more important than the ones you don’t. Your questions should give you more information on the role you are applying to, as well as show that you are curious, keen, and eager to get to work.

Questions to ask about the position:

What would an average day look like in this role?

The question will help you understand what you are signing up for if you are offered the job. If the day-to-day responsibilities of this position are not what you are expecting, it is better to find out now than after you’ve started.

Is this a new position? If not, how long did the previous employee hold the position?

Knowing whether the previous employee had worked there for years or only a few months can help you ascertain whether it is a rewarding role. If someone held the job for a decade, they probably enjoyed working there, whereas if someone left only a few months after starting there may be some internal issues at the company. For more clarity, you can follow this question up by asking why the previous employee left the role. Were they promoted to a new role, or fired? The answer can inform your opinion of the company.

What kind of challenges would someone in this position face?

By asking about challenges, you proactively create the opportunity to consider how you would meet those challenges. An employer would be pleased with a candidate willing to dive right in to difficult problems.

This question also allows you to gauge what you will be up against on a regular basis. Every job comes with certain difficulties; with this question, you can ascertain whether you are up to the challenge.

What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed?

This is a good question to make yourself look keen and forward-looking. When an employer looks at candidates, they notice enthusiasm. By asking what you would be working on in this role, you show that you are ready to jump right in. This way, they know you are the type of person who will be thinking about the job even before your first day.

Questions to ask about team culture

Can you describe the team I will be a part of?

It’s not too early to start getting to know your coworkers. This question will open the door to discussing team size, who you will be working closely with, and what type of work culture you can expect.

What are the team’s current goals?

Asking about current goals and ongoing projects will help you understand the team’s focus and how you can prepare to join in as a collaborative member.

Other important questions about the team include:

  • “Who will I be reporting to?”
  • “Will I be working closely with other teams or individuals?"
  • “How many people are on the team?”

Questions to ask about the hiring manager:

How long have you been with the company?

If the interviewer has been with the company for a long time, then you can assume that they like working there. Whether the employees like the work is an important consideration when applying for a job.

What has allowed you to be successful with this company?

You can learn a lot about a company by the way employees talk about it. The person interviewing you should have a good grasp of the skills needed to be successful, and knowing what traits, characteristics, and behaviors are expected can help you prepare yourself for the job.

Why did you choose this company?

It can be valuable to know what employees like about their place of work. With this question you can learn about your interviewer’s perceptions of their company and why they work there.

Has your role changed since you’ve been here?

This is a good way to gauge whether employees of this company typically stay in the same role, or whether they are encouraged to adapt and grow. Before accepting the position it can be useful to know if promotions or transfers are likely.

Questions to ask based on the type of position

For a managerial role:

  • “Who will be reporting to me?”
  • “How many people will be on my staff?”
  • “Are there any responsibilities expected of this role that are not listed on this job description?”
  • “What does this team need to accomplish in the next 6 months?”
  • “Will I need to hire more employees within the next 6 months?”

For an entry-level position:

  • “What do you need me to accomplish within the next six months?”
  • “To whom will I report?”
  • “What can I do to be successful in this role?”

For an administrative role:

  • “What are the company’s goals for the next 5 years?”
  • “Who are our most important collaborators?”
  • “Who will I be reporting directly to?”

How to choose questions to ask for an interview

Job interviews are stressful, and it can be difficult to come up with questions on the spot. To make sure your nerves don’t get the best of you and cause you to leave the interview without having asked anything, it can be useful to prepare questions ahead of time. To do this, think about what you don’t know about the role that you would like to learn. Ask yourself questions about your knowledge of the job, such as:

  • What do I want to know about the company?
  • What do I want to know about the position?
  • What do I want to know about the department?

Once you have decided what you want to learn, you can brainstorm questions to ask once you are in the interview. Get ready for the interview by writing your questions down and practicing how you will ask them. With the right preparation, you will be ready to learn more about the role and impress your interviewer with your curiosity and enthusiasm.

Ben Temple

Written By

Ben Temple

VisualCV Customer Success Manager

Ben is a writer and customer support specialist with 5 years of experience helping job-seekers create their careers. He believes in the importance of a great resume and the power of coffee.

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