Interviewing the Interviewer: Essential Questions to Ask (and avoid) in Job Interviews

11 May 2023

“So, do you have any questions for me?” 

You’ve made it past the hard part, the end of the job interview is in sight. But before you cross the finish line, don’t brush over this last, crucial part. Despite having prepared for the other questions, it's common for candidates to draw a blank on the last one. 

“No, I don’t have any questions.” Is exactly how not to respond.  

To truly make an impression, consider asking thoughtful and relevant questions that showcase your eagerness and engagement with the position. Remember, the interview is a two-way street - while the employer is assessing your suitability for the role, you also have the opportunity to assess whether the company is the right fit for you. Seize this chance to gain valuable insights and clarify any doubts you may have. 

Before heading to the interview, it's a smart move to prepare around 5 questions to ask your interviewer. Consider writing them down on a notepad instead of relying on your phone to avoid any distractions during the interview. Plus, you can use the notepad to take any additional notes that may come up during the conversation. 

Here are 10 questions to consider asking during your next job interview: 

  1. How would you describe the company culture? A healthy company culture is extremely important. Asking about the company culture can help you determine if the role is a good match for your values and working style. 

  1. What do you expect the successful candidate to achieve in the first 3-6 months? This question demonstrates that you’re thinking about how you can contribute to the company’s success, and it also gives you a sense of what the company expects from you in the early stages of your employment. 

  1. What opportunities are there for professional development and advancement? Showing an interest in professional development and growth can demonstrate your ambition and willingness to learn, which are highly valued by many companies. 

  1. Can you tell me about a time when someone in this role went above and beyond? Asking about previous successes in the role can give you a sense of what’s possible and help you understand what the company values in its employees. 

  1. What are some of the most important qualities for someone to succeed in this role? Asking this question shows that you’re interested in understanding the role and what it takes to succeed, and it can also help you tailor your responses to better demonstrate how you meet these qualifications. 

  1. What is your favourite thing about working for this company? Asking about the interviewer’s personal experience can help build rapport and give you a sense of what it’s like to work for the company. 

  1. Can you describe the onboarding process for this role? This can give you a sense of what to expect in your first few weeks and months on the job and can also help you understand the company’s expectations and goals for new hires. 

  1. Can you tell me about a recent project or initiative that the company has undertaken? Asking about recent projects or initiatives can demonstrate your interest in the company’s work and can also give you a sense of the company’s priorities and goals. 

  1. What are the biggest challenges I might face in this position? This shows you understand every role will come with challenges and are willing to face them. 

  1. What does a typical day or week look like from someone in this position? This shows you are engaged and will give you insight into what to expect if you are successful. 

Questions to avoid...

While there are plenty of good questions to ask in a job interview, it's equally important to be aware of what not to ask. The questions you pose can reflect on your level of interest and motivation for the role. 

For instance, asking about salary and benefits might come across as if you're solely focused on monetary gain, rather than having genuine interest in the company and its values. Also, avoid asking about basic information regarding the company or the position that can easily be found with a quick online search. This indicates that you didn't come prepared for the interview. 

Here are some more questions to avoid: 
  • Many workplaces offer flexible working arrangements now, so asking about that is okay. But avoid any high-level negotiations such as salary until after you receive an offer.

  • Never ask the interviewer any personal questions. 

  • “If I’m hired, when can I start applying for other positions in the company?” or “How quickly would I be considered for promotion?” 

  • “Do you do background checks?” 

  • Never ask about gossip you’ve heard about the company. 

  • Never ask if the company monitors e-mail or internet usage. 

Remember, an interview is a two-way street – it’s not just about the company evaluating you, but also about you evaluating the company. Avoid questions that could be seen as disrespectful, presumptuous, or self-centred. Instead focus on asking thoughtful questions that demonstrate your enthusiasm and professionalism to increase your chances of standing out from the crowd. Good luck! 

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