Gearing up for a new job? Here are 10 questions to ask during a job interview that will impress your future boss (and make you sound super smart).
You’re interviewing the company as much as the company is interviewing you. Get a feel for the work environment, their mission, and values during the interview to make sure they align with your own.
Don’t ask: “What are your company’s values?”
Instead, ask: “I read that your company’s mission is _____. Can you give me more details about your business goals and values?”
Asking about the company’s values might seem like a great way to start the interview, but how you approach the question can set the tone for the rest of the meeting. If you ask outright what the company’s mission or goals are, it can indicate that you didn’t do any prior research on the company before going to the interview. This can be particularly egregious when you’re interviewing at companies who have published their values on their website.
Instead, phrase the question so that you can show that you already did your research. Mention a tidbit that you learned and ask the person interviewing you to elaborate on it within the context of the position they’re hiring for.
Don’t ask: “What is your company’s culture?”
Instead, ask: “What characteristics do you look for in your team that represents your company’s culture and values?”
Company culture is another great topic to discuss during your interview. It further establishes your interest in the company while also giving you critical information you need to make a decision if you’re offered the job. However, leaving this job interview question open-ended can demonstrate a lack of critical thinking skills, something that many employers will pick up on right away.
Instead, ask a more specific question that requires the person interviewing you to come up with detailed examples of how company culture correlates to members of the team and more importantly, how it relates to you specifically and what experience, skills, and background you’re bringing to the table.
Don’t ask: “What is it like to work here?”
Instead, ask: Can you describe the work environment here? Are team members friendly and open to new ideas?”
Before you make a decision about a job, it’s ideal to get a clear picture of what it might be like to work there. You don’t want to find out three days into your new position that your immediate co-workers aren’t team-oriented or that office gossip runs rampant.
An employer is unlikely to advertise interpersonal problems to potential hires, but you can often glean enough information from the interviewer’s responses to form a reasonable idea of what the working environment is like. Ask specific questions about how welcoming team members are, what lunchtime at the office looks like, whether the team prefers to work in groups or independently, and other questions that require a more detailed response.
It’s also important to feel out the job you’re interviewing for to make sure you’re a good fit for it and it’s a good fit for you. Ask these great interview questions about what it’s like to work at the company and what your future boss enjoys about their work.
Don’t ask: “What do you like about working for this company?”
Instead, ask: “What is something you would change about your current job and why?”
You’ll want to gauge if the company’s current employees are happy at their jobs and an easy way to do that is to simply ask the person interviewing you. Asking the basic question – what they like about their job – invites canned, well-rehearsed responses. Naturally, they’re going to be skewed in favor of the company and do little to clue you in about how they really feel.
Instead, ask what they might change about their job. They may say something standard, like getting a raise or more days off. Or, they may say something that alerts you to a red flag, like “I would change my immediate supervisor,” or “I would switch departments.” This can indicate that there may be more than meets the eye regarding job satisfaction.
Don’t ask: “What are the responsibilities of the job?”
Instead, ask: “Can you describe what a day on the job would look like?”
Most employers expect you to ask what the job entails or what your responsibilities will be. They’ve answered that very same question for every other person they’ve interviewed, and they’ve got it down to a science: they’ll give a short list of typical duties without details or context. Usually, this satisfies the nervous interviewee, and they move on to the next question.
A good way to break the interviewer out of the same-answer rut is to rephrase your question in a way that requires them to get creative to come up with an answer. By asking the interviewer to describe a typical day, they’ll need to think about the various responsibilities of the job and how they come into play on a daily basis versus a basic list of tasks.
Don’t ask: “What is the hardest part of the job?”
Instead, ask: “What are some examples of challenges I would face on the job?”
You should take a few minutes to discuss any difficulties you might face on the job. Like other potentially negative aspects of the position, this will likely be glossed over or not addressed at all unless you make a point to do it. Employers don’t want to scare away top talent, but it’s important to determine if there are any parts of the job that aren’t in your wheelhouse.
Ask the person interviewing you to describe specific examples of challenges you might face on the job. Are team projects difficult to coordinate? Should you be prepared to deal with angry customers, or is your immediate supervisor a stickler for the rules? See what comes up and if it sounds like a deal breaker or something you’d likely be able to handle.
Don’t ask: “How can I succeed in this job?”
Instead, ask: “Can you give me an example of what success looks like for this job and how your company measures it?”
One of the most critical questions to ask employers during a job interview is what success looks like for the position you’re interviewing for. Ask for a specific example of how success is measured by the company and look for answers beyond showing up on time and catching on quickly.
Ask the interviewer what their “home run” is when they make a hiring decision. What would they ultimately like to see from the person they put in the position you’re interviewing for? Do they want someone who can lead an understaffed department with little to no direction, or do they want someone who can boost company sales by a certain percentage? Look for meaningful answers instead of surface-level information. You can also use this job interview question as an opportunity to segue into a discussion about incentives for success.
Towards the end of the interview, you’ll want to begin discussing the next steps with the interviewer. It’s important to get a clear idea of what action you can expect them to take next and what your response should be.
Don’t ask: “Am I a good fit for the company?”
Instead, ask: “Does anything concern you about my experience or background being an ideal fit for the job?
After chatting with the interviewer for some time, they should have been able to form a basic opinion about whether you’d be a good fit for the job. So, why not ask them what they think? Don’t ask general interview questions that only require a yes or no answer. Instead, ask if there’s anything about your background or experience specifically that may indicate you’re potentially not a good fit for the position. This will require the interviewer to come up with a more thoughtful answer to the question than a simple, “yes,” “no,” or “I’m not sure.”
Don’t ask: “When will you call me?”
Instead, ask: “What are the next steps in the hiring process? May I call you to follow up?”
It’s imperative that you never leave an interview without knowing what your follow-up plan is. Usually, employers will tell job candidates that they’ll be getting a call, but anyone who’s ever been through a job interview knows that few employers contact job candidates they did not choose.
Ask the interviewer if it’s appropriate for you to call back in a few days or a week to check on the status of your resume or application. If possible, get the name and contact information of the hiring manager or the person who you need to follow up with, if it’s not directly with the interviewer themselves.
Don’t ask: “Are we finished with the interview?”
Instead, ask: “May I answer any final questions for you?”
The end of an interview can get awkward, especially if you’re new to interviewing or your potential employer doesn’t give you many social cues as to what to expect next during the meeting. You may want to ask if the interview is over, but being blunt can give the wrong impression that you’re anxious to leave. True or not, it’s not the image of yourself you want to leave the interviewer with.
Ask the interviewer if you can answer any last questions for them once the conversation begins to lull and you sense the end of the interview may be near. Usually, this social cue is well-received and is a perfectly professional way to suggest the close of the meeting.
Heading into the employment market without knowing what questions to ask during a job interview is akin to stepping outside in the dead of winter without a coat. You’re going in unprepared, and you’re unlikely to survive unscathed. Use practice interview questions to develop some standard answers to commonly addressed issues and to get more comfortable delivering your answers under pressure.
Unless you’re naturally an extrovert or a people person, your first few interviews aren’t going to go off without a hitch. It takes time and practice to become a good interviewee. Go over mock interview questions with a friend and become familiar enough with the dynamics of the interview process to give you a head start, even during your first job interview.
With IAP Career College you can earn a certificate in your dream career for an affordable price. You can schedule your learning around your life and earn a certificate in as little as 4 weeks part-time from the comfort of your own home. Get started by registering for an Online Certificate Course through IAP Career College.