14 Important Questions to Ask at a Job Interview
Most of the time, when you go for an interview, towards the end the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions for them. This gives you an opportunity to show you’ve done your research on the company and the work culture.
When candidates ask intelligent and well-thought out questions during an interview, it helps them show the hiring manager their interest in the job. When you apply for a job position, there may be several other candidates who may be as good as you for the role. However, businesses are not just looking for candidates with the shiniest CV or experience; they’re looking for people who are passionate about the job and are a good cultural fit for the company.
Knowing the right questions to ask during an interview shows hiring managers your interest in the job position and the organisation and also helps you leave a lasting impression.
Here are 14 important questions to ask in an interview
1) Why did you choose to work here?
Asking the interviewer why they joined the company is an excellent chance for candidates to bond with them. You get an insider’s view of what drew them to the company in the first place and why they felt like it would be the best place for them to work. It also allows you to understand more about how your interviewer takes decisions.
2) What do you love the most about working here?
Positive questions like these give the interviewer a chance to talk about what they love about their job and the company. You’ll learn about what they value and get the opportunity to evaluate whether these are aspects you’re looking for in the company you decide to work for.
Do a little background research on your interviewer on LinkedIn before your interview. Take a look at how long they’ve worked with the company and if there are any significant shifts in their role within the company. Based on your research, you can ask them personalised questions to get their attention. For example, “In the 7 years you’ve worked with the company, what is something you love about the company that made you stay for so long?” You could also switch it up and ask the interviewer, “You’ve been with this company for 7 years — what’s the one achievement you’re extremely proud of?”
Questions like these help candidates build a personal connection with the recruiter and give you an insight into the company. It’s also designed to give you hidden information about whether the company’s good fit for you.
It’s said that interviewers who do a lot of talking during an interview end up leaving those interviews feeling better than interviews where they didn’t speak as much. By asking culture-based questions like these, it gives interviewers a chance to talk about themselves.
3) Why is the company looking to fill this position?
Uncovering why a job position is open can give you lots of information about what’s going on within a department or the company. Did the previous employee leave the company after a short period? If so, why? Or maybe they got promoted to a senior position. This situation showcases that the job role has a good potential for career advancement.
4) What challenges have people in this job role faced in the past?
This open-ended question makes the hiring manager share their personal opinion about what they believe are essential things you should know about before joining the company. It gives you an idea of the company and team culture. Has the company faced challenges due to a lack of skilled employees, or are their systems posing a roadblock to getting things done?
5) What can I do to prepare myself better for this position?
This question is excellent if you’re applying for a job that doesn’t directly align with your core background.
Let’s suppose you have a background in hospitality but are applying for a role as an executive assistant or an office manager with limited experience in these roles. Asking this question makes it clear that you understand and acknowledge that you may not have the right background for the job you’re applying for. However, you’re passionate about the role and are willing to learn things even before you join the organisation.
6) Who’s the most successful recent hire, and why?
This question showcases why someone has been successful in their job position and what the company regards as traits of a successful performer.
If they consider working long hours and getting brilliant results with little to no budget in high regard, you know there may be better companies for you.
You can also go ahead and flip this question on its head and ask the interviewer about a recent hire who wasn’t successful. When the interviewer explains why someone failed in their role, you’ll be able to pinpoint aspects that the company considers as a red flag or decide whether or not the expectations they have suit you.
7) What’s the biggest impact that I can make in the first three months?
Job descriptions often include jargon that make things confusing for the candidate. Therefore, asking the interviewer how you can create an impact immediately after joining the company will give you a better understanding of the aspects the company wants you to focus primarily on. It also shows your hiring manager that you’re passionate about your work and want to make a difference, which already puts you one step ahead of the competition.
Another thing to consider is that companies may often use job descriptions repurposed from previous vacancies. Therefore, what you may actually be expected to do could be very different from the duties and responsibilities stated in the job description. Questions like these ensure that you and the recruiter have the same expectations.
8) What do you think are the key trends affecting the organisation in the next couple of years?
This question allows you to share anything you may have uncovered during your research on the company. Sharing things that showcase this will show the interviewer that you’re motivated to work for the organisation. Additionally, the interviewer’s response will give insight into how the company’s trajectory can affect your professional future.
You can also ask the interviewer about the significant challenges the company will face this year and how your role can help them overcome them. This question will help you understand the company’s immediate future and get the hiring manager to see that you want to take steps to overcome the challenges the company is facing.
When people are willing to learn more about how they’ll fit within the company, it sends the message that they know their role and are ready to be accountable for it.
9) What makes someone successful at this job?
This is another open-ended question that encourages the interviewer to share things they have noticed while working in the company. They will start listing aspects that they believe are traits of successful employees within the company. This would usually be people who may recently have received a huge bonus or promotion.
Do they list coming in early or working overtime as things successful people in their company do? Do their ‘successful employees’ never take time off or go on holiday? Or maybe they list things like people getting their tasks done days before the deadline?
You can leverage these nuggets of information to decide whether or not this company is the right fit for you. It also helps you gain knowledge on what you should do to be successful from day one.
10) What does career advancement look like for this position?
Getting a good idea about how far you can go up the corporate ladder is something all candidates should do. The interviewer will often share information about employees who have worked the same job position in the past and how they have moved up within the company.
This gives you more information about the different executives in the company and can serve as an impressive icebreaker when you actually meet them.
11) What have you learned, or how have you changed since joining the company?
This question offers the interviewer free reign to brag about their accomplishments. The way they answer this question will help you evaluate the company culture and the health of the workplace environment. It also gives you an indication of the kind of impact the company will have on your life.
12) What skills are needed to be successful in this role?
Allowing the interviewer to share skills they believe are critical to be successful in this job position will give you a chance to respond with instances where you’ve demonstrated the same attributes.
It cements your worthiness to take on this job role in the hiring manager’s mind and helps you gain an edge over your competition.
13) Can you share your feedback based on the job interview?
This question forces the interviewer to think about the interview and list everything they liked about you – and any reservations they may have. This gives you an opportunity to address any reservations before they linger in the interviewer’s mind.
Plus, when you gracefully accept constructive criticism, it signals to the interviewer that you’re willing to accept feedback and improve your performance — traits that all good leaders look for in a new employee.
14) What are the next steps in the process?
Instead of worrying about when you’ll get a call, when the hiring manager will follow up with you, or when they’ll make a decision, you might as well clear all these doubts during the job interview. Understanding what the hiring process looks like during the interview will give you some peace of mind.
Your interviewer may mention having other interviews in the pipeline or needing another interview before making the final decision, but at least you’ll have some information. If the hiring manager provides a specific date for a call-back or a follow-up interview, you’ll have a valid reason to get in touch with them should they miss the date.
It also gives you an insight into how the company functions depending on the structure of their hiring process and helps you decide whether it’s a good fit for you.
We’ve shared 14 intelligent questions you can ask your hiring manager in your next job interview. These interview questions help you create a lasting impression and give you critical insights about the company and whether or not you’ll be a good fit to work there.
So, how many questions should you ask in an interview?
Asking at least two to three questions will reassure the hiring manager that you’ve done your research, spent time preparing for the interview, and care about the future of the organisation. However always prepare a handful of questions beforehand in case the interviewer answers a few of your questions during the interview itself!
At Joss Search we connect job seekers with the best roles in top private equity and alternative investment firms. You can take a look at our live vacancies or chat with our friendly consultants about your upcoming career steps. We’re waiting to help on 020 3096 7050 and firstname.lastname@example.org.