Questions to Ask in an Interview
As you prepare for your interview and learn about the company, its mission, vision, its business, and practice interviewing, there is also something else you need to think about: “Questions to ask in an interview.” We are going to review 10 questions that you should think about asking at the end of your interview. In most cases, you will have a few minutes to ask your questions. You shouldn’t use all 10 questions, but at least ask 2 or 3 questions, and then dive deeper in the question if needed. Sometimes the easiest way to dive deeper is asking the Why to a question, basically you follow up on the interviewer’s answer with a why question. Let’s look at a few questions to clarify this.
Most Important Qualities Question
When you read the job description, it may contain specific skills that the candidate should have to excel in the position, but sometimes, those skills differ from what the interviewer or hiring manager thinks you need to have. One way to find this out is by asking, “What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this position?” This helps give you a better idea of the qualities and why you need them. This can also shed light on what things are like at the company or maybe the direction they are trying to go. Let’s move on to our next set of questions to ask in an interview.
Typical Day in the Position
This is a great question to ask as the title of the position may mean something different from company to company and the demands may be different. When it is your turn to ask the interviewer some questions, ask him/her, “Could you walk me through what a typical day is like in this position? What can be expected?” This can help align you with what the job demands and can be extremely helpful. You can ask yourself, “Is this really a job that I want to be doing or do I have the necessary skills to do this job?” Regardless of the segment you are in, it is vital to understand what it is expected of you. When you know what is expected, you can better focus your delivery. You are not shooting in the dark. You are aiming at a specific target, which makes things much easier.
First 30/60/90 Days
As was mentioned in the previous section, it is important to know what is expected of you at the job. This question gives a slight twist to it as it specifies a period. “What can be expected of me in the first 30/60/90 days?” helps you better understand how your job performance will be measured and what you should achieve. Also, it can show you how well-planned a company is or reveal a lack of thought for the position. Remember, as you ask these questions, you are trying to determine whether this position and company are a good fit for your or not. If it is, fantastic. If it’s not, best to move on to the next company.
Describe Company Culture
This is one of the top questions to ask in an interview, hands down. Is this a company that you want to work at? Does the company match your style of work or have similar beliefs as you do? Do you agree with the company’s mission and vision? Do you like and believe in the products or services that this company offers? What is it like to work there? Do they treat their employees well? These are all things to be considered and are part of company culture.
You could ask the interviewer, “Could you tell me about your experience at the company?” or “What is it like to work at your company?” or “Could you talk about your company culture and working there?” There are multiple versions of this question, but they all filter down to the same thing: what is it like and will I fit in?
I would also encourage you to ask friends or colleagues who work at these companies what they think of the company culture. In most cases, you will get a more truthful scoop. Interestingly, I have had some interviews in the past with companies which I thought were a good fit. But once I talked to a few colleagues and learned about their experiences and then read other employee reviews on Glassdoor, I realized that the culture was quite different. Look for good fits and do your homework. Talk with people and read reviews. Do your homework and try to get the best idea possible.
Is There a Career Path?
A great post interview question to ask your recruiter is, “Is there a career path for this position?” or “What is the growth potential for this position?” Sometimes you join a company with the intention to grow internally. You may start at a low-level position, but you know that the company has plans for you, and ways to develop you as a professional. It is always interesting to hear what the recruiter has to say on this question. Sometimes it is clear that the company has a career path; other times, it can be rather nebulous.
One group that I can say may be rather unclear are start-ups. I come from the start-up industry, and I can attest first hand that you don’t always have a career path for your new candidates. The fact is, you are on-boarding new candidates because you have a need to fill and work to be done. That is the priority. Later, as the company develops, these career path gaps are filled in, but it can take time. Having said that, try to understand what the respective company is like. For some candidates, lack of a career path can be a deal breaker; for others, a growth opportunity to wear multiple hats within the organization, especially at a start-up, is great.
What Do You Like Best About The Company?
I love asking this question because you can get some unique answers from it. This is also a great way to then dig deeper in the question. If you are given a shallow answer, try a follow up question to this to go deeper. One great variation to this question that I love to ask is, “Could you share one pro, one con, and one thing you would change in the snap of your fingers?” It is always easy to share a positive, a little more difficult to think of a negative, and “one thing you would change” is something that drives the recruiter to think.
What Are Some Challenges the Company is Facing at The Moment?
This is a question I like to ask because it gives me an inside look at what is happening in the company. The interviewer may reveal some tidbit that I can jump on. For instance, at one interview the company revealed that their social media strategy was not up to par and some of it was not as effective as it should be. This was very interesting as I have a lot of experience with social media strategy. After the interviewer mentioned this, I was able to share what I had done to remedy that problem in the past; in other words, I was able to show the value that I bring to the table. You always want to show the company how you will solve problems and add value.
Ask the interviewer “What are some challenges the company is facing at the moment?” and learn more about their situation. If you can help them with it, present a partial solution and say that you would be glad to present more at the company.
How Are You Different From Your Competitors? Why Are You Better?
Some companies have many competitors in their segment, and it can then be difficult to determine the differences between the competitors. Feel free to ask the interviewer, “Why are you better than companies X, Y, and Z?” “Why should customers pick your company over others?” Just a word of caution though, recruiters expect you to do your homework prior to the interview, so there are times when the interviewer may turn the tables and throw the question right back at you, thus putting you on the spot. If you ask this question, make sure you also have an opinion.
Do You Have Any Hesitations About My Qualifications?
It is crucial to not leave any doubts before closing the interview. You want the recruiter to have the necessary information to make an informed choice. Asking this question helps clarify and ensure no doubts are left on the recruiter’s end. This is normally one of the last questions I ask. There is one point I would add here: if it was a sh*t interview, I don’t ask this because it is just a waste of time now. As you go through multiple interviews and hone your skills, you will learn how to read people. You will know when an interview went well and when it didn’t.
This is a must-ask question. This should be on your list of questions to ask in an interview. As you are closing the interview, normally the interviewer will tell you what the next steps are in the process. If he/she doesn’t, ask “What are the next steps in the interview process?” They will say that it consists of X number of interviews and what will happen if you get selected for the subsequent interviews. Sometimes they will go as far as to say that this process should be done in the next 30 days, or the position needs to be filled asap, but every company is different.
Funny story. In the past, I interviewed at a company twice and then was told I would receive a call in the next week to continue the interview process. I was happy to hear that I was being considered for the next part of the process and was waiting anxiously. Three months later I get the most nonchalant email saying that they were now ready to continue the process and wanted me to come in for an interview. Like really! This is disrespectful to the candidate. Watch out for this stuff. Lesson here: If you already notice this before joining the company, imagine once you are inside. This is one of the reasons why you need to ask questions about the company. Get to know what the company is really like and if it is a good fit for you.
List of Questions to Ask in an Interview
- What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this position?
- Could you walk me through what a typical day is like in this position.? What can be expected?
- What can be expected of me in the first 30/60/90 days?
- Could you tell me about your experience at the company? What is it like to work at your company? Could you talk about your company culture and what it is like to work there?
- Is there a career path for this position? What is the growth potential for this position?
- What do you like best about your company? Could you tell me one pro, one con, and one thing you would change with the snap of your finger?
- What are some challenges the company is facing?
- What makes you better than your competitors? Why?
- Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
- What are the next steps?
We covered some of the main questions that you can ask, but there are tons more. Figure out which questions work and fit best for that interview. Don’t expect to ask the interviewer ten questions. You will probably be able to squeeze in three questions. Pick the ones you deem to be most important and relevant to your conversation. Ask them and try to get a feeling of what it would be like to work at the company. One valuable thing to remember is: an interview is a two-way street; two parties ask each other questions to see if there is a good mutual fit.
I have had some great interviews in the past where the recruiters were super professional and very open to answering questions about the company and their own experience. You could tell they really liked what they did and believed in it. Contrarily, I have had some crappy interviews where recruiters did not answer any of my questions or gave me superficial or monosyllabic answers. This is a turn off and one that doesn’t help sell the company to the candidate. Watch out for these.
As you go through interviews, always have some questions up your sleeve. Use the questions cited above, but also customize/tailor your own questions to better fit the interview, role, and company. A tailored made question can have a much better fit. You can deem what is a better fit during your interview.
I hope that you found Questions To Ask In An Interview helpful and will be able to ask the right questions in your next interview and get the information you need to know to make an informed decision about a new position and company. Best of luck!
For more interview tips and videos, check out the English Interviews and CareerPrep Youtube Channels.