A job interview can feel a lot like a test that you either pass or fail. However, interviews aren’t just a way for a potential employer to determine whether or not you’re the right fit for the job. They’re also an opportunity for you to find out if the job is a good fit for you too.
Accepting a job offer only to find out that you didn’t properly understand what it entails, or that it doesn’t fit your lifestyle, can take up lots of unnecessary time and hassle. So, at the close of the interview, when your interviewer asks if you have any questions of your own, it’s important that you use this opportunity wisely.
Asking the right kinds of questions can also help you come across as a stronger candidate and might increase your chances of landing the job.
To help you prepare for your interview, we’ve put together a list of 12 top questions to ask your interviewer, as well as some advice on what not to ask.
12 questions to ask your interviewer
1. What does a typical day look like in this role?
Though the job description will most likely cover the basic roles and responsibilities of the job you’re interviewing for, this question allows you to investigate further to find out what you’ll actually be doing day-to-day.
By getting a better understanding of what your day might look like, you might also be able to get a clearer idea about whether the role will be able to offer you the kind of lifestyle you want. For instance, maybe your interviewer will give you clues about what times you start and finish, as well as whether or not you’ll have the option to work at home.
Asking this question can also give you insight into whether every day is likely to be different, or if you’ll have a set number of routine tasks that you’ll perform each day. If you’re someone who gets bored easily, then having variation in your days might be particularly important.
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2. Can you tell me about the onboarding process?
Finding out about how you’ll be trained for the role is particularly important if you’re returning to work after a long break or changing careers. If they don’t have a comprehensive and well thought out onboarding process in place, then you might want to consider another company that does – as this can make the transition much smoother.
3. Are there opportunities for progression in this role?
As humans, we’re always looking to progress. In fact, it’s an evolutionary mindset we’ve inherited from our ancient ancestors who lived by “survival of the fittest”.
Today, our drive to learn, improve, and progress is arguably never more prevalent than it is in the professional world – so asking your employer if there are opportunities to progress in the role will feel natural for many of us.
However, this question is best handled with care. If you put too much stress on how, when, and if you’ll be promoted, giving little attention to the role you’re actually interviewing for, you risk coming across as only interested in how the company can benefit you.
It’s also worth remembering that ‘‘opportunities for progression” doesn’t only mean promotion, it can also refer to ways that you can develop yourself and your skills within the job you’ve applied for. For instance, they might offer employer-funded learning opportunities, like courses that teach role-related skills and/or provide relevant qualifications.
4. What, in your opinion, are the biggest challenges of this role?
This question can give you insightful knowledge into the job that you’re interviewing for while helping you come across as a stronger candidate.
Asking what the biggest challenges of the role are will not only allow you to find out some of the problems you may have to contend with, it can also help to convince your interviewer that you’re a forward-thinking and organised individual who’s keen to take on challenges.
5. What, in your opinion, are the best aspects of this role?
By reading the job description and researching a company, you can find out a lot about the positives of a job opportunity. For instance, you might be able to see if it pays well, offers remote working, or if the office is conveniently located.
However, asking your interviewer what the best aspects of the role are can give you a more personal insight. For example, they might give you clues into what the company’s culture is like (are your potential coworkers supportive and friendly?) or what employees really appreciate about the company. Information like this can be invaluable when deciding whether or not to take a job.
6. What would you like to see an ideal employee achieve in this role in the first three months of employment?
This and other similar questions, such as, “How do you measure success in this role?”, are must-asks for any potential employee for a number of reasons.
Firstly, defining how your employer will measure success in the role will keep their expectations of you clear. Unclear expectations in any role can lead to unnecessary stress and even burnout. These expectations may influence whether or not you choose to take on the role.
This question also suggests to your interviewer that you’re an organised forward thinker who’s eager to succeed and help the company to reach its goals.
7. What sort of team will I be working with?
Asking this question is a good way to find out about the structure of your team; who you’ll be reporting to, the size of the team, whether or not you do a lot of collaborative work, and where your department sits within the larger company.
These are all important factors when deciding if a role is suitable for you. For instance, if you’re a sociable person who works best as part of a team, you might not be interested in a role that largely involves independent work.
Again, you might be able to find out a little bit about the culture of your workplace with this question. Listen for any clues your interviewer might give you about what sort of people you’ll be working with.
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8. What are the core values of this company?
A company’s core values are what they hold in high regard. Values can range from specific ones (for instance, sustainability and age diversity) to more general ones (such as teamwork, respect, and accountability).
Before you embark on the interview process, it can be helpful to jot down what values are most important to you. If your core values align with that of the company you choose to work for, it can increase the amount of fulfilment, pride, and general satisfaction you find in your job.
9. How would you best describe the company’s culture?
Fred Schuneman, an author at Invista Performance Solutions, says that “workplace culture is to an organisation what personality is to an individual”. And we’re not sure that there’s a better explanation than that out there.
Although very similar to the last question, the company’s culture is often linked to its core values. So this question prompts the interviewer to give you an idea of how these values are put into practice on an everyday basis. For instance, do people at the company hold themselves accountable? Are they supportive of each other?
Asking the interviewer how they would describe the company’s culture also encourages a personal perspective, as opposed to just rattling off a pre-prepared list of the company’s values.
The importance of finding a job in which you’re a good cultural fit can’t be overstated. Workplace culture not only affects job satisfaction but performance as well. This means that an employer and employee will both be happier and more successful if the cultural fit between both parties is right.
10. What are the company’s primary goals over the next five years?
This, or similar questions, like “Where do you see the company in the next five years?”, can give you great insight into what you can expect in the near future should you accept the role. It can also give you a bit more information on what’s important to the company. Every company wants to succeed, progress, and grow, but does this come at the expense of the values you hold dear?
When asking this question, it’s also worth adding “…and how can my role help you get there?” Not only will this give you a better understanding of how your job will fit into the company’s wider plan, but it’ll reiterate your commitment to the company and its future success.
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11. What are the next steps in the interview process?
This one is a common question asked by candidates at the close of an interview. Finding out when you’ll hear back from the company is a great way to ease your anxiety while you wait.
Whether they give you an exact date or a rough timeline, this question will also help you decide if you need to send a follow-up email if they don’t get back to you. If you do decide to follow up, always wait for at least one business day more than they indicate, otherwise, you’ll risk coming across as impatient.
12. Can I answer any other questions for you?
This question is a good one to remember simply because it suggests to your interviewer that you’re enthusiastic, proactive, and eager to please – qualities that employers value highly in potential candidates.
What questions are best not to ask my interviewer?
Too many questions about salary – salary is one of the most important aspects when deciding whether or not to accept a job. However, focusing on salary too much in your interview, especially early on in the process, might make you come across as reward-orientated and uninterested in the role itself. One way you can avoid this is to wait for the interviewer to bring it up, which they often will.
Questions about benefits and sick/holiday pay – although these are important factors; the interview process, especially early on, usually won’t be the right time to discuss this. Generally speaking, it’s best to wait until you’re offered the job to bring these up, once you have some leverage.
How did my interview go? – this question is never a good idea. Your interviewer won’t have necessarily made up their mind about you yet and it’ll most likely make them feel uncomfortable.
Personal questions – you may ask your interviewer their opinion on work matters, for example, “Why did you choose to work for this company?” But anything personal and non-professional is an absolute no-go. This includes asking their personal opinion about specific people at the company.
Anything you can find out yourself – this includes any information that’s freely available to you on places like the job description, the company’s website, news sites, etc – for instance, what the company does and its competitors. This is why it’s important to research the company thoroughly beforehand and read the job description carefully.
Anything that the interviewer has already told you – nerves can lead us to focus too much on what we’re saying and too little on listening. If you ask something that the interviewer has already provided the answer to, then you might come across as disinterested, unfocused, and a poor listener.
Asking nothing – as we’ve said, asking questions is a great way to find out more about the company and the role you’re applying for, as well as to suggest your eagerness and interest. By not asking any questions, you run the risk of not properly understanding the job role and/or conveying to your interviewer that you aren’t particularly interested in the opportunity.
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We hope that you’ve found these questions and advice helpful. Remember, when going through the hiring process everyone’s situation is different, so always ask the questions that are important to you.