Whether you are a seasoned interviewee, or this is the first time you’ve been career shopping in decades, there are some basic questions you can ask during an interview that will give you an idea if you are a good fit for the company and if they are a good fit for you.
The first interview is just like a first date – you are getting to know each other, and both parties are a bit nervous and maybe even guarded. The difference between a first great date and a lousy one comes down to communication.
Be confident and understand that if a prospective employer isn’t willing to answer one of your questions, they probably aren’t the right company for you!
Feel free to print out the list below and share.
Top questions to ask during an interview
- Do you need me to clarify or elaborate on anything I said or that you read on my resume?
This is a more direct line of questioning than the vague “Have I answered all your questions?”
It offers greater detail on any answers you may have given, allowing the hiring manager to circle back or draw the hiring manager’s eye back to your résumé.
- Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?
We recommend this question because it’s a quick way to determine whether your skills align with the company’s current needs. If they don’t match up, then you know to walk away instead of wasting time pursuing the wrong position.
- Who would I be reporting to? Are those three people on the same team or on different teams?
It’s important to ask about the pecking order of a company in case you have several bosses. If you’re going to be working for several people, you need to know “the lay of the internal land,” or if you’re going to be over several people, you probably would want to get to know them before accepting the position.
- What do the career paths of those who have held this position look like?
Whether you want to move vertically in the company or not, it’s good to know your opportunities!
- Who do you consider your major competitors? How are you better?
This question is not for the faint of heart, but it shows that you are already thinking about how you can help the company rise to meet some of its bigger goals.
- Beyond the hard skills required to successfully perform this job, what soft skills would serve the company and position best?
Knowing what skill sets the company thinks are important will give you more insight into its culture and management values, so that you can evaluate whether you would fit in.
- How would you describe the company’s culture?
This question gives you a broad view of the corporate philosophy of a company and whether it prioritizes employee happiness.
- What do you like most about working for this company?
This question lets you “create a sense of camaraderie” with the interviewer because “interviewers, like anyone, usually like to talk about themselves and especially things they know well.” Plus, this question gives you a chance to get an insider’s view of the best parts about working for this company.
- Can you give me an example of how I would collaborate with my manager?
Knowing how managers use their employees is important, so you can decide whether they are the type of boss that will let you use your strengths to help the company succeed.
- What’s your timeline for making a decision, and when can I expect to hear back from you?
This one tells them you’re interested in the role and eager to hear their decision. Knowing a company’s timeline should be your ultimate goal during an interview process after determining your fit for the position and whether you like the company’s culture. It will help you to determine how and when to follow up, and how long to wait before moving on.
- Can you tell me what steps need to be completed before your company can extend an offer?
A strong alternative to the decision timeline question — asking about an offer rather than a decision will give you a better sense of what comes next, because “decision” is broad, while “offer” refers to when it’s ready to hand over the contract.
- Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
While this question puts you in a vulnerable position, it shows that you are confident enough to openly bring up and discuss your weaknesses with your potential employer.
- Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?
This simple question is polite to ask, and it can give you peace of mind to know that you’ve covered all your bases. It shows enthusiasm and eagerness but with polish.
- How would you score the company on living up to its core values? What’s the one thing you’re working to improve?
This is a respectful way to ask about shortcomings within the company — which you should be aware of before joining. As a bonus, it shows that you are being proactive in wanting to understand more about the internal workings before joining.
- What are the challenges of this position?
If the interviewer says, “There aren’t any,” you should be wary of the position’s personal growth possibilities.
- If you were to hire me, what might I expect in a typical day?
This shows your eagerness about the position and it gives you a better idea of what the job would be like on a daily basis so you can decide whether you want to pursue it. A frank conversation about position expectations and responsibilities will ensure not only that this is a job you want, but also one that you have the skills to be successful in.
- What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
The main point of this question is to get your interviewer to reveal how the company measures success.
- What type of employee tends to succeed here? What qualities are the most important for doing well and advancing at the firm?
This question shows the interviewer that you care about your future at the company, and it will also help you decide if you’re a good fit for the position. Once the interviewer tells you what she’s looking for in a candidate, picture that person in your mind’s eye. She or he should look a lot like you.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
We like this question, and yet no one ever asks it because it’s difficult to answer. It’s an important question for anyone to be asking him or herself, and so if ever a candidate were to ask this question, it would have stood out. This is a good question for interviewees to ask because as a candidate if you see where the person interviewing you is headed, you can decide if that trajectory is in line with your career objectives. While they don’t have to be completely correlated, it’s helpful for the candidate to have some indication of the interviewer’s direction.
- Is there anyone else I need to meet with? Is there anyone else you would like me to meet with?
Knowing whether the company wants you to meet with potential coworkers will give you insight into how much the company values building team synergy. In addition, if the interviewer says you have four more interviews to go, you’ve gained a better sense of the hiring timeline as well.
- How do you help your team grow professionally?
This question shows that you’re willing to work hard to ensure you grow along with your company. It also lets you know if the company is invested in cultivating its talent — and if others will be as dedicated to your own personal growth as you are.
- Can you share more about how the company supports its employees with professional development opportunities?
While many candidates may want to know the potential for growth before taking a job, asking about promotions suggests to recruiters you think the current position is beneath you. You don’t want to imply that you’re looking for that next role before you were trained or provided any value in the role at hand. Instead, ask more open-ended questions, or ask anecdotes of past employee success stories for a more roundabout way to find out how the position can help you grow.
- When your staff comes to you with conflicts, how do you respond?
Knowing how a company deals with conflicts gives you a clearer picture of the company’s culture. Perhaps more importantly, asking about conflict resolution shows that you know dealing with disagreements in a professional manner is essential to the company’s growth and success.
- Is this a new position? If not, why did the person before me leave this role?
This might be uncomfortable to ask, but it’s not uncommon and shows that you are being smart and analytical by wanting to know why someone may have been unhappy in this role. If you find out they left because they were promoted, that’s also useful information.
- Will I have an opportunity to meet those who would be part of my staff during the interview process?
Getting the chance to meet with potential teammates or managers is essential to any professional interview process. If you don’t give that chance, proceed with caution.
- What are some of the problems your company faces right now? And what is your department doing to solve them?
Asking about problems within a company gets the “conversation ball” rolling, and your interviewer will surely have an opinion. Further, their answers will give you insights into their personality and ambitions and likely lead to other questions.
- How do you evaluate success here?
Knowing how a company measures its employees’ success is important. It will help you to understand what it would take to advance in your career there — and can help you to decide if the employer’s values align with your own.
- Where do you see the company in three years, and how would this role contribute to that vision?
Asking this question will show your interviewer that you can think big-picture, you’re wanting to stay with the company long-term, and you want to make a lasting impression in whatever company you end up at.
- What’s your staff turnover rate? What are you doing to reduce it?
While this question may seem forward, it’s a smart question to ask because it shows that you understand the importance of landing a secure position. It is a black-and-white way to get to the heart of what kind of company this is and if people like to work here.
- I read X about your CEO. Can you tell me more about this?
Make sure to research the company you’re interviewing with, not only to shine when answering the questions asked of you, but to be informed and engaged when it’s your turn to ask the questions. Questions like this simply show you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in the company and its leaders.
- What’s one of the most interesting projects or opportunities that you’ve worked on?
We like this question because it gets the interviewer thinking about their own experiences. By asking for a specific example, candidates can get a better picture of what the job entails and how people function in certain roles.
- Is there anything we haven’t covered that you think is important to know about working here?
This is a good wrap-up question that gives you a break from doing all the talking. You may also get answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask but are important.
- What do you think my major challenges will be integrating myself into the company, should I get the job?
Sometimes, getting creative with your job interview questions can pay off big time.
Whether you are a prospective candidate or Chief Human Resources Officer it’s good to be prepared for that first date, the getting to know each other phase of the employment dance.
Employers feel free to use the above as a preparation guide for the inevitable questions – or even use when crafting your job postings to better tell the story of who you are looking for and your company culture.
Happy connecting and as always, we at KMR Executive Search are here to help and support your hiring journey. If you have any questions about the process, feel free to give us a call at (860) 404-2526.
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