Top Questions YOU Need to Ask In An Interview: 21 Career Professionals List Their Must-Asks

Going for a job interview is typically viewed as one of the most nerve-racking aspects of looking for a new job. The key to performing well is to be well prepared. That means doing your research on the company and coming up with answers to potential interview questions. Of course, what most job seekers want to know is how to really impress the interviewer and stand out from other candidates.

Well, you need to show the recruiter that you are not only capable of doing the job,  but that you also have a genuine interest in working for the company. To demonstrate this, you need to take the opportunity to ask your interviewer questions about the role and the company during the interview. But what questions should you be asking?

To answer this, I sought out the advice of experts in the careers, HR and recruitment industry by asking them one simple question:

What are three questions that YOU should ask your potential next employer during an interview?

The responses I received were fantastic and truly surpassed my expectations. Here is what the experts had to say.


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Here are a few questions I’d recommend asking an employer during an interview:

  • What do you enjoy MOST about working for this company? LEAST?
  • What does success look like in 30/60/90 days on the job? In other words, what are the key expectations?
  • What does failure look like?

Those are questions that not only set a candidate up for success, but also inquire as to what the interviewer thinks/likes/doesn’t like. That goes a long way in the interview process. People like to talk about themselves.

Kirk Baumann
Founder, Campus to Career
www.campus-to-career.com


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  • Who are the strongest managers in the company?
  • Can I work for one of them?

Your career trajectory depends more on the quality of the managers you have than the quality of the company you’re at.

Penelope Trunk
Author, Entrepreneur, Blogger
http://penelopetrunk.com


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Good questions would be:

  • Where would you like this company to be in 5 years?
  • What steps would we need to take to scale up this company’s output by 50%? What about 100%? (Tip: always say “we” even if you are not yet hired. It will make your boss feel like you already belong to the company).
  • How could my role in the company help it to grow?

This part of the interview is a great chance for you to learn about your potential employer’s visions for the future. Asking about future goals not only shows interest in the company’s direction, you can also learn whether (or not) your potential boss has a roadmap for the company’s ongoing growth and expansion. He or she may also be flattered to be asked such a question, and may enjoy telling you about their dreams for the future of the company.

Natasha Rhodes
Lead Content Specialist at CareerBliss
http://www.careerbliss.com


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  • Why is this position available now?

This question might seem rather invasive to ask during an interview, but remember, you are interviewing the employer to decide whether they are a good fit for you, too. Don’t be afraid to ask why the position is available; you need to know what type of environment you are walking into and so it is helpful to know whether the previous employee left on bad terms or was simply promoted.

  • How does management evaluate employee success?

Your time and effort are valuable, so wasting your time working for an organization with no performance evaluation structure in place could be detrimental to your overall professional progression. By asking how management measure employee success you can quickly determine how to progress in the organization and whether or not the company puts employee progression as a priority.

  • What do you like most about working for this company?

Rather than asking outright about the company’s benefits (and risking being perceived as a self-centered, money-focused applicant), you can spin this question on its head and pose it towards the interviewer. Not only will you get an idea as to what benefits the company offers, but it implies you are genuinely interested in the interviewer’s opinion. It also changes the interview to a slightly more conversational tone, which can help you to ‘connect’ with the interviewer and leave a lasting impression with them.

Emma Mackenzie
Editor at Career Addict
www.careeraddict.com


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During the interview, make sure you as questions that you can’t answer yourself with a simple Google search. Ask about the company culture, the specific challenges of the job, and so on. Here are a few:

  • What’s the biggest challenge the company will face this year?
  • How would you describe your company culture?
  • Who has been the most successful person to work here and why?

These kinds of questions help you dig deeper into the company and really show that you’re interested in working there.

You can even ask questions that are specific to the interviewer like, “How did you come to work here?” or “What’s your favorite part of working for ____ company?”

Ariella Coombs
Managing Editor at CAREEREALISM
Career Coach at CareerHMO


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  • What was one memorable challenge that the person who previously held this role had to address?
  • What do you feel are some of the most rewarding aspects of taking on this position?
  • Can you share, or make any recommendations on, industry resources that you follow on a daily or weekly basis?

Sarah Cueto
Columnist | Ms Career Girl


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  • Why is this position open and can you tell me what happened/where did the last person in this role go/move on to?

This can help the job seeker learn the negatives or positives of the position. It could map out a potential career map and next position after this one. It could also point out something negative about the job or company and maybe steer them clear from accepting an offer if one is presented.

  • How can I make others around me successful in this position?

This shows you want to improve work for the immediate team and are curious what it takes.

  • What could I do to ensure I’m successful in this position in the first 60-90 days?

How can I ramp up quickly? This just shows you’re ready to go and want to put in the work to make training easy for the company.

Rich DeMatteo
Careers Expert | Corn on the Job


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  • Can you describe a typical day in this role?
  • What are the three key objective for the job holder?
  • Do you want to know what I can do to help your business?

Kazim Ladimeji
Editor | thecareercafe.co.uk


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  • Why me? What interested you about my background that separated me from the other candidates?  What skill/ level of expertise would you be looking for me to bring to your organization?
  • What is your management style and the culture of the organization? The number one reason people leave companies is because management styles don’t mesh.
  • Why are you looking to fill this role? Is this a backfill or a new position? If this was a backfill why did the other person not succeed?

Will Thomson
Founder and President
Bullseye Recruiting


 

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My three questions would be:

  • Could you please describe your or the hiring managers management style? Look for conflicting answers.
  • How do you or the hiring manager make your/their employees feel valued?
  • Could you please describe what a typical day would look like for someone who get’s hired for the posted position?

Marc Miller
Career Pivot


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Determining the values of a company and whether or not they align with your own is important. To do this, during a job interview ask the following:

  • “What have you enjoyed most about working here?”

The answer to this question will give you a peak behind the curtain as to what kind of attitudes and values are pervasive in the workplace. Company culture is a huge factor in job satisfaction, so make sure you have a good feeling before you accept a job offer.

  • Who is your best employee, and what is their secret?

Asking this question accomplishes two things: First, it shows the interviewer that you’re someone who can learn by observation and envision success. Second, you’ll get to know what lengths it takes to become recognized and valued in your potential workplace.”

  • When can I expect to hear back from you?

For most on the job hunt, time is precious. While some hiring opportunities have a quicker turnaround, others can take weeks to close. Make sure you have a timeline of when to expect to hear back from a company so that you don’t pass other opportunities along the way.”

John Krautzel
Vice President of Content and Member Experience
Beyond Career Network


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  • What have past employees done to succeed in this position? 

You want to let the company know that you want to do everything in your power to succeed in the position. It also gives you a sense of what will be expected of you, and if the job will be a good fit.

  • What are the most important things you’d like to see someone accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job?

This question will allow you to to get a feel for the types of projects you will be working on, and what will be expected of you in the first three months. It also shows the company that you’re goal oriented which is always a bonus.

  • What are the next steps in the interview process and when do you think you’ll be making a decision?

You want to be clear what the next steps are and when the company plans on making a decision, because it can affect your job search strategy. If the company says they will be making a decision by the end of the week, then you can follow up on Friday. If they say they just started the process and it will be about a month, you want to make sure you continue taking interviews at other companies.

John Muscarello
Founder | Endless Job Offers


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  • This role is a great opportunity…I was wondering if you could tell me a little about the background of why it’s vacant?

Why ask this?

Answers such as it’s a newly created position or the person before was promoted can be positive signs that the company/area is growing or provides a viable pathway for promotion. Evasion of the answer or something more negative can be a warning sign that the previous person wasn’t happy and it might be wise to ask a few further follow on questions.

  • How would you describe the culture of the team? OR How often does the team meet?

Why ask this?

You’re going to be spending a lot of time with the people you work with…it’s good to understand what the environment is like so you can decide if it suits your preferred working style.

  • How do you/will you define success in this role?

Know what you are signing up for if the things that will be considered as successful align to your skills and values.

Karen Adamedes
Career Tips To Go
www.careertipstogo.com


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  • What are the key responsibilities of the position?
  • Is there scope for career progression?
  • How would you describe the work culture within the company?

Sophie Deering

The Undercover Recruiter
http://theundercoverrecruiter.com/


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  • What opportunities for learning will I encounter in this job, will I continue to learn enough to keep me engaged and interested?

A good potential follow up to this question is: Do you have an Education Reimbursement Program?

  • What auxiliary skills are missing from my qualifications that I should learn?

This is a trick question, be prepared to counter by knowing where your faults lie by comparing your qualifications to the job description.

  • What differentiates this company from its competitors?

Prepare for this one by being knowledgable of the company’s competitors.

Matthew T. Cross | The Resume Design Book

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  • What are some of the key strengths you believe are necessary to do this job well?
  • Based on what you’ve seen in the past, what improvements would you like to see in how this job is done?
  • How do you best like to communicate with team members?

Anita Bruzzese45things.com


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  • Ask how the interviewer how they measure performance or success in the role.

This will give you an idea of what challenges you may face and the goals of the position. More often than not, job descriptions list general tasks or the skills required to perform the job but do not offer insights into the goals of the position or company or what you will be expected to accomplish in the role.

  • Ask about the company culture.

Don’t be shy to ask the person interviewing you how long they have worked there and why they like working there. It will provide insight into whether or not the environment is a good fit for you.

  • Always, always ask if the person interviewing you has any concerns about any of your abilities to perform the job.

This will give you the opportunity to go back and clarify or add examples of how you are capable and have the skills necessary to perform the job.

As a final question, ask about the next steps in the process. This will give you an idea of when you should expect to hear back from the company.

Chantal BechervaiseTake It Personel-ly


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  • Is there opportunity to gain more responsibilities over time and grow my career?
  • How do you handle situations when you need adjust the behavior of an employee?
  • What are three qualities of someone who succeeds at this role?

Joshua Waldman

Owner: Career Enlightenment


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  • Do people say what they think? Are they comfortable sharing their opinions even if others are offended?
  • If you could describe your company’s culture in three words what would you say?
  • Can you give me some examples how employees here show work life balance?

Bryce Christiansen

Editor-in-Chief | Careertopia


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  • What’s a home run hire for you look like in three months?

Take notes: this could be what your tasked with if you get hired.

  • What’s the most important thing you’re looking to find from candidates for this job?
  • What do people usually do for lunch around here?

Trying to find out if people eat at desk, go somewhere together as a team, keep to themselves…not eat at all!

Carlos Portocarerro | Carlosportocarrero.com


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  • If I have a similar opportunity to yours, why should I join you?
  • If I join you, how will I be feeling about my decision 3 months in?
  • What type of person is most successful here?

Nisa Chitakasem | Position Ignition


 

A big thanks to everyone who participated. And as always, here’s to hoping you crush that interview!

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