Article from The Muse
You’re sitting under the fluorescent lights of an unfamiliar conference room across from the person who may decide the fate of your job search, trying desperately to remember that perfect story you prepared and wondering if the AC is always set to ‘arctic blast.’ Or maybe you’re at home in front of the most professional wall in your apartment, looking at your interviewer on a computer screen and hoping your camera won’t shift and reveal the stack of empty La Croix cans you forgot to move before the Zoom call started.
Then, the hiring manager asks the interview question you know is a signal that things are about to wrap up: “Do you have any questions for me?”
You probably already know that whether you’re stressed or relaxed, whether you think you’ve fumbled the conversation badly or you’ve got this job in the bag, the worst thing you could say is, “Nope, I’m good.”
An interview isn’t just a chance for the hiring manager to grill you—it’s your opportunity to sniff out whether a position would be as great for you as you would be for the position. So it’s vital to ask some questions of your own. What do you want to know about the role? The company? The department? The team? The person interviewing you who may be your future boss, coworker, or mid-afternoon coffee buddy?
To get you thinking, we’ve put together a list of key questions to ask in an interview. We definitely don’t suggest asking all of them rapid-fire—some of this stuff will be covered during the course of your discussion, and you can always ask questions throughout the conversation. Plus, you will sound like you’re reading the questions off some sort of internet list and not truly listening to their answers. You should also customize these questions to the specific opportunity or ask tailored questions that show you’re invested in the position and you’ve been paying attention throughout the interview process.
So this list isn’t the be-all and end-all—it’s your jumping off point.
Best questions to ask about the job
Make sure you have a handle on exactly what the day-to-day responsibilities of the job will be—both now and in the future. This will help you make an informed decision if and when that job offer comes and avoid Shift Shock.
- What does a typical day or week look like in this role? (Or one of these alternatives.)
- What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed?
- Can you show me examples of projects I’d be working on?
- What are the skills and experiences you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?
- What attributes does someone need to have in order to be really successful in this position?
- What types of skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
- What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?
- What sort of budget would I be working with?
- Is this a new role or will I be taking over for an employee who’s leaving?
- How does this position contribute to the company overall?
- Do you expect the main responsibilities for this position to change in the next six months to a year?
Top questions to ask about training and professional development
Think of each new opportunity not just as a job, but as the next step on your path to career success. Will this position help you get there?
What does your onboarding process look like?
- What learning and professional development opportunities are available to your employees?
- Will there be opportunities for stretch assignments where I can learn and use new skills?
- Are there opportunities for advancement within the company?
- Would I be able to represent the company at industry conferences?
- Where have successful employees previously in this position progressed to?
Common questions to ask about how your success will be evaluated
Understanding how your potential new manager will measure your success is key to understanding their managerial style as well as company or team priorities.
What are the most important things you’d like to see someone accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job?
- What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months?
- What is the performance review process like here? How often would I be formally reviewed?
- What metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?
Smart questions to ask about the interviewer
Asking these questions shows that you’re interested in your interviewer as a person—and that’s a great way to build rapport with a future colleague.
How long have you been with the company?
- Has your role changed since you’ve been here?
- What did you do before this?
- Why did you come to this company?
- What’s your favorite part about working here?
- What’s one challenge you occasionally or regularly face in your job?
- What part of your job are you most excited about over the next few months?
- Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’re especially interested in?
Best questions to ask about the company
Why not learn a little bit about where you might work? A job isn’t just about your day-to-day to-do list. You’ll likely be happier with an employer that shares similar values to yours and is headed in a direction you’re on board with.
I’ve read about the company’s founding, but can you tell me more about [another significant company development] ?
- What direction do you see this company heading in over the next few years?
- What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?
- What are the current goals that the company is focused on, and how does this team work to support hitting those goals?
- What gets you most excited about the company’s future?
- What are the company’s most important values? (Note: Make sure this isn’t easily Google-able!)
- How does the company ensure it’s upholding its values?
Smart questions to ask about the team
The people you work with day in and day out can really make or break your work life. Ask some questions to uncover whether it’s the right team for you.
- Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
- Who will I work with most closely?
- Who will I report to directly?
- Can you tell me about my direct reports?
- What are the team’s biggest strengths and challenges?
- Do you expect to hire more people in this department in the next six months?
- Which other departments work most closely with this one and how?
Creative questions to ask about the culture
You don’t want to end up at a workplace where all socialization happens at happy hour if you don’t drink or you need to get home to your kids, or where everyone is focused solely on their own work if you thrive in a collaborative environment, for example. So make sure you ask about what’s important to you when it comes to company culture.
How would you describe the work environment here—is the work typically more collaborative or more independent?
- How does the team form and maintain strong bonds?
- Can you tell me about the last company event you did together?
- What’s your favorite office tradition?
- What do you and the team usually do for lunch?
- Does anyone at the company or on this team hang out outside the office?
- Do you ever do joint events with other companies or departments?
- What’s different about working here than anywhere else you’ve worked?
- How has the company changed since you joined?
- How has the organization overcome challenges with remote work?
- How does the company make sure that remote and hybrid employees are given the same opportunities and standards as in-office employees?