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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Community Success Manager & CV Writing Expert
Ben is a writer, customer success manager and CV writing expert with over 5 years of experience helping job-seekers create their best careers. He believes in the importance of a great resume summary and the power of coffee.
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