Ever draw a blank when an interviewer asks, “Any questions?” Interviewers expect you to ask questions. After all, employment is a two-way street. Preparing interview questions to ask in advance, shows that you’ve done your homework and are truly interested in the job. In fact, some interviewers might be more impressed with your questions than your answers.
It’s a professional courtesy to withhold the bulk of your questions until the interviewer asks if you have any. Interviewers typically ask toward the end of an interview or near the conclusion of each phase. Of course, it’s okay to ask a few questions to clarify matters, steer topics and such, as the interview progresses. For example, a question such as, “What does the ideal candidate bring to this job?” would be appropriate early in the interview. But wait until it’s “your turn” before you fire off a barrage. On the other hand, if the interview seems to be drawing to a close before the interviewer asks if you have questions, ask if it’s okay to ask.
Avoid asking questions just to impress the interviewer, and asking frivolous questions just to have some to ask. Also avoid asking questions that might reveal more about you than the job. For example, the question “What happens if I fail to meet a project deadline?” has underlying implications, such as "I’ve often irresponsibly missed project deadlines."
Unless the interviewer mentions the topics first, it’s not a good idea to ask questions about vacation, sick days, lunch breaks and so on, right off the bat. Granted, they’re part of the whole employment picture, but from an interviewer’s point of view, asking such questions too early in the interview game might indicate that your priorities are in the wrong order. Ask about what the company can do for you and lesser matters of importance during follow-up interviews. Better yet, wait until you’re reasonably sure you have the job offer in your pocket; instead, ask questions about the job, the company and your interviewer.
It’s okay to write down your interview questions to ask beforehand, and then refer to them during interviews. It shows that you’re organized and interested enough in the job to have prepared in advance. Also, since you should be taking notes during your interview, feel free to add items to your ‘list of questions to be asked later.’
The one rule when asking questions is pretty obvious, but still worth mentioning – do not ask a question that has already been answered through the hiring manager’s previous explanation. Of course, it is ok to ask clarifying questions, but don’t ask what a typical day is like right after the manager describes what a typical day is like.
Sample Interview Questions to Ask about the Job:
- What is a typical day like?
- Which specific skills are necessary to succeed in this job?
- Would you please describe the ideal candidate for this job?
- How do my skills, experience and education differ from those of the ideal candidate?
- What are the day-to-day duties of this job?
- Do you have anything to add to the job description that XYZ advertised?
- Does this job have any special demands?
- How much travel does this job require?
- How many hours are in a typical workweek?
- What is a typical workday like in this position?
- How would you describe the working environment?
- Are there specific problems or challenges an employee would face in this position?
- If you hire me, which duties would you like for me to accomplish first?
- Which projects would you like for me to complete in the next six months?
- What are the long-term objectives of this job?
- Who would be my immediate supervisor and where does he or she fit into the organization?
- Would you please describe your management style?
- Who would be my direct reports and what are they like?
- What are my potential coworkers like and how many are there?
- How much autonomy would I have in making decisions?
- What would be my budget and spending authority and responsibilities?
- What level of input would I have in determining my objectives and deadlines?
- How many projects must an employee in this position multitask at once?
- Is this a new position or am I replacing someone?
- Why was this new position created?
- May I ask why the employee in this position is leaving or no longer fills it?
- May I seek success tips from the employee who was promoted out of this position?
- Has anyone ever performed poorly in this position? What did he or she do wrong?
- How do you measure an employee’s performance and provide feedback?
- How does an employee know he or she is performing this job to expectations before annual merit reviews?
Sample Interview Questions to Ask about the Company/Hiring Manager
- How does XYZ Company acknowledge outstanding employee performance?
- What are this department’s goals and how do they fit with XYZ Company’s?
- How does this department fit in with XYZ Company’s five-year plan?
- Is this department responsible for its own profit and loss?
- Does the department or XYZ Company face any major challenges?
- Do you foresee any significant changes in XYZ Company?
- What’s XYZ’s policy about employees advancing their education?
- Does XYZ offer employee training?
- How does XYZ promote and support professional growth?
- What’s XYZ’s policy for work-life balance?
- What’s XYZ’s policy for employee retention
- What is XYZ’s customer service policy?
- Has XYZ recently laid off employees and why was it necessary?
- How did XYZ handle notification, severance and outplacement services during the last layoff?
- Is XYZ planning or considering a layoff in the near future?
- Is XYZ profitable? How profitable?
- Does XYZ regularly report its market results and profitability to its employees?
- How does XYZ compare with its competitors?
- How well has XYZ historically weathered poor economic conditions?
- May I ask what you like and don’t like about XYZ Company?
- What brought you to XYZ?
- What is your background?
- Which computer software packages are used/important at XYZ?
- Is there anything you’d change about XYZ if you could?
- How would you characterize XYZ Company?
- Would you please describe XYZ’s strengths and weaknesses?
- Are there any misconceptions about XYZ Company of which I should be aware?
- Does upper management have an open-door policy?
- What can you tell me about the employees who work here?
- May I see an organizational chart?
Sample Interview Questions to Ask in Summary:
- Is there anything else I should know? Is there anything else you’d like to know?
- Is there anything that would prevent you from offering this job to me?
- How do I compare with the other candidates you’ve interviewed so far?
- Do you have any concerns? What can I do to alleviate them?
- What’s the next step?