9 Good Questions to Ask in a Job Interview
A job interview might sometimes feel like an interrogation but it is in no way intended to be like that. In fact, a good job interview is not just a Q&A session for the employer about your skills and qualifications. It is also an opportunity for you to ask questions and impress the interviewer with your inquisitive mind.
At the end of the interview, the interviewer will often throw the ball in your court and ask you if you have any questions. It’s important that you don’t say ‘No’ but ask a few insightful questions that not only help you learn more but also tell the interviewer more about the reasons you’re right for the job.
Indeed, asking questions in a job interview is important for three key reasons:
- It helps you learn more about the company and the role. This will help you decide whether the company culture and the role are right for you and your career path.
- It allows you to clarify your own strengths and weaknesses. When you are asking questions, you can use them as an opportunity to highlight your strengths for the role or indeed use the opportunity to understand what worries the employer might have in terms of hiring you.
- It makes it easier to show expertise and enthusiasm towards the role. Questions will look professional and they allow you to show how you’ve done your research – your thirst for knowing more is a positive sign for the employer that you actually care about the role.
So, you know now that questions are expected and beneficial to ask in a job interview. What should you ask then? There are nine questions in this post that are worth considering when preparing for a job interview. Before we examine them, let’s briefly consider the reasons they are good.
A good question – and something all the below nine questions are – has three characteristics:
Your question should always be based on things you know. Good questions are not obvious or assuming – they are based on a certain level of information and are there to clarify or learn more.
Furthermore, as mentioned earlier, you need to use the questions to showcase your own talent and to dig deeper into why you’re such a good pick. But you shouldn’t make your questions too easy or meaningless – you’ve been asked tough questions and it’s OK for you to do the same. You just have to be polite!
So, let’s see what are the nine questions you should ask in a job interview.
QUESTION #1: HAVE I ANSWERED YOUR QUESTIONS WELL OR WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO CLARIFY SOMETHING?
It’s a good idea to give the interviewer the chance to ask for clarification. They might do this during the interview automatically but asking the question will be beneficial for you in two ways.
First, it allows you to get an insight into how well the interview is going. If the interviewer lists a bunch of things for clarification, you know you have some work to do. You can focus on clearing up misunderstandings or pointing out the strengths in a more obvious way. It’s an opportunity to have a second chance at nailing those questions.
But there is another benefit to the question. It also forces the interviewer to think and take note. The questions will make him or her think carefully how well the interview is going and what are those big issues he or she might have. Indeed, it might make him or her think how well you are actually doing and what a good candidate you seem to be for the role.
QUESTION #2: DO YOU HAVE ANY HESITATIONS ABOUT MY QUALIFICATIONS?
This is quite a gutsy question to ask but that’s what makes it a great question to ask in a job interview. It shows your willingness to discuss your strengths and, more importantly, your weaknesses openly.
Now, it allows you another chance of seeing how well the interview is going. You get another chance at redeeming yourself and showing that you’re actually a good fit and the worries the interviewer has are just worries, not problems. You can use the opportunity to remove doubt – to show those gaps in your work history are not as dramatic because you used the time to study and grow as a leader, for example.
QUESTION #3: WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE THE PERSON IN THIS POSITION TO ACHIEVE IN SIX MONTHS/A YEAR/FIVE-YEARS?
You should also ask something about the position you are applying for. This is to help you understand more about the expectations of the role. Asking about the expectations will help you identify what kind of tasks are ahead of you and how you will be able to measure success. It will not just prepare you for the role but also helps you understand whether you find the job interesting and challenging. If it seems like there are no expectations, you might not feel like the company culture is supportive enough, for example.
The question will also give you an opportunity to point out your fit for the role. For example, if the answer talks about the desire to improve their customer retention, you can mention your previous achievement in this and say how you look forward to using those skills in this role.
Now, the question regarding the expectations will also tell the interviewer you are interested in succeeding in your role and in helping the business succeed. By showing your interest in understanding the expectations, you show willingness and enthusiasm to actually succeed in the role.
QUESTION #4: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN THIS POSITION?
Of course, you shouldn’t just focus on the positive expectations and aspects of the job. No role will just be sunshine and rainbows. You will show a lot of professionalism and determination by asking about the challenges.
Now, the question will give a more realistic picture of the role. It helps you see past the marketing speech and perhaps understand whether you are up for the challenge. This is, indeed, the second aspect of asking this question. To help you identify how your strengths and skills would help you overcome those challenges and excel in this role.
QUESTION #5: WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALITIES TO EXCEL IN THE ROLE?
This question is another good way of learning more about the company culture. The answer will help you understand what qualities and characteristics the company and the team value the most. For example, if it’s your ability to take initiative, then you know they want someone who isn’t afraid to take responsibility.
It’s another question aimed at learning more about the role and the company. It helps you evaluate whether you would fit the organization and if you even want to – perhaps you start noticing an emphasis on doing it on your own and you are more interested in finding a team to work with.
The question will also give you a chance to prove your worthiness. You can answer by pointing out how you’ve been focused on improving this aspect in your work life or point out to an achievement that should help you excel in the role.
QUESTION #6: DOES THE COMPANY OFFER FURTHER TRAINING AND CONTINUED ACCESS TO EDUCATION?
This question is a clever way of seeing if your career path aligns with what the company has an offer. It’s also a great way of showing your professionalism and interest in developing your skills further – and helping the company succeed as a result.
Firstly, the question does help you learn about your future in the role. If the company offers now training, then it probably isn’t a good choice for someone who is interested in moving fast on the career ladder. On the other hand, if the interviewer lists a range of opportunities, you can guarantee to have a more fulfilling and challenging future ahead.
But as mentioned, you also showcase your interest in developing your skills. It makes you look more professional – to be interested in knowing how to gain new skills is always a sign of a hardworking individual.
If you want, you can tie this question in with another one relating to the history of the position. It can be worth asking, “How has this role changed in the past?” to get a better idea of what it would mean for your career. Has the role evolved? If it’s constantly changing, it might not always be such a good thing. However, you also don’t want a company that is afraid to tweak and adapt.
QUESTION #7: WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST IN WORKING FOR THE COMPANY?
Your questions shouldn’t just be about the role. You can also learn about the company culture by asking the interviewer what he or she enjoys about the company. Their answer will reveal a lot about the company culture.
It also helps you to create a more personal connection with the interviewer. It turns the situation into a less stressful and formal – helping you bond with the interviewer on a more personal level.
Now, it’s important to remember here the interviewer might not actually work for the company. Sometimes companies use an external recruitment agency and therefore, the interviewer couldn’t really answer this. However, you could turn it around and ask, “What do you enjoy the most when collaborating with the company?”
QUESTION #8: HOW DOES THE POSITION HELP THE COMPANY MEET ITS OBJECTIVES?
You can further your understanding of the role and the responsibilities by asking about the role’s importance to the company. This question will help you see how your role will influence the bigger vision of the organization.
By asking about the company’s direction and your possible role in it, you highlight your willingness to work for the greater good. You show a level of teamwork – working to help the company do better, not just your team. It shows you’re not there just to pick a pay check but to achieve together with everyone.
But you’ll also learn whether your career goals align with the company’s vision. Are you heading in the same direction?
QUESTION #9: IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE ME TO DO AT THIS POINT?
At the end of the interview, you should also ask if you’re supposed to (or able to) do anything at this point of the process. This gives them the opportunity to ask for final clarifications or documents they want to see before making the decision.
It can also help you understand the process – are you supposed to contact them or will they call you/email you and so on. You will be more on top of the next steps and the timeline in terms of finding whether you’ve been selected or not. It could even help you in writing a follow-up note.
Asking this question is polite but it also shows enthusiasm. You are not just walking out of the door but you want to know what happens next. It reinforces to the interviewer that you are serious about the role, confident you did well and eager to get started.
THINGS YOU MUST AVOID
Questions are always great because they show initiative and enthusiasm. Whether you ask the exact above questions or not doesn’t necessarily matter. As long as you have things to ask and you’ve done your homework, you will boost your chances by being inquiring. Don’t forget, you are often specifically given the opportunity to ask question – if you stay silent at this point, you won’t make a good impression.
While all sorts of questions are better than no questions, you still need to remember a few things. There are questions that won’t look professional and this is often down to two reasons:
- You haven’t properly prepared for the interview and you are asking questions you should already know.
- You don’t adequately understand or respect the interview and application process.
Now, questions in the first group are those that you could answer by examining the company website or reading the job interview. These are questions like “What does the company do?” or “What tasks am I supposed to perform in this role?” If you are genuinely unaware of the answers to these before your job interview, you have some work to do! It’s important to be aware of things like the company culture, the main vision and history of the company, and the kind of job you are applying to.
In terms of the second non-professional questions, you can’t start asking the interview things that assume you have the job in the bag. Things like “Can I take a vacation?” or “Can I change my work schedule?” are wholly inappropriate at this point. You still don’t have to job and even if you did, you don’t clear things like that on your first day.
Finally, don’t ever end the interview by asking if you’ve gotten the job. They will let you know – waiting is hard but it is the name of the game.
THE POWER OF THE QUESTION
Questions during a job interview are not just something thrown your way. You should also be prepared to ask them – to learn more about the role and company, as well as to make your case for being selected.
The above nine are good questions to ask in a job interview because they have the characteristics of a good question. They show preparedness, a realistic view of the situation, and a good opportunity to showcase job fit. If you want to make a lasting impression, learn more about the company, and present your strengths for the job better, you definitely want to consider popping these questions during your next job interview.
The great Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in …