The Most Important Questions to Ask During an Interview (And the Questions You Should Not Ask During an Interview)

When preparing for a job interview it is important to develop a list of questions to ask the interviewer. Asking the right questions helps demonstrate interest in the position and the work done by the company. Asking questions during an interview is also a great way to show you’ve done your research on the company or the person that is interviewing you. Below are several questions you may ask during an interview along with tips on how to react to the interviewer’s responses.

1. What does the day to day look like in this position? 

This question will help you obtain additional information regarding the position you’re applying to. When the interviewer responds to this question, attempt to connect your past experience with the role described. This helps the interviewer perceive you as an experienced and informed candidate.

2. How long have you been with the company?

This lets the interviewer know that you’re interested in growing with the company rather than using it as a stepping stone.

3. What does success look like in this position? How is that success measured? 

Asking this question gives you more information on the goals you’ll need to achieve in order to succeed in the company. After the interviewer responds, compare the company’s idea of success to any of your past positions. This will portray you as someone who has succeeded in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

4. How does x value held by the company manifest itself in the company’s culture?

This question will help you view how your own views may connect with those held by the company. Feel free to connect your own views to those held by the company.

5. What skill is most important for success in this position? 

Each position has its own set of challenges. Whether that is being organized, a self-starter, or mathematically inclined it’s important that you let the interviewer know that you possess that skill. Provide a specific example of when you’ve demonstrated this particular skill.

6. Is there anything about my resume that makes you question whether I am a good fit for this role?

This question demonstrates that you’re committed to the position and will give you an opportunity to clarify any uncertainty the interviewer may feel about your experience.

7. I noticed your company recently launched x product/completed y project. What would you say was the most challenging part of doing that? (Make sure you ask about a project that is somehow related to the department or role you’re interviewing for.)

This shows the interviewer that you’ve done substantial research on the company and that you understand the work the company does. Feel free to discuss similar challenges you’ve experienced and how you’ve overcome those challenges in the past.

8. What is your favorite part about working at this company? 

This question gives you more information on the perks provided to the employees at this company. After the interviewer responds, you may describe how you feel about their favorite part about working at the company.

9. Why is this position available? 

This will help you learn about any challenges associated with being successful in this position. This will also give you the opportunity to explain what skills and knowledge you possess that make you an ideal candidate.

10. What goals is the company currently focused on, and how does this team work to support those goals?

This will help you learn more about the company’s present culture and if there are any overarching challenges currently affecting this company. During your interview, attempt to present yourself and your past experience in a way that can help contribute to achieving the company’s goals. If any company you’ve worked at in the past has had similar goals, describe how you contributed to that company to ensure the goals were met.

11. From what you’ve learned from the person formerly in this position, how can I improve outcomes? 

This question shows the interviewer that you’re a growth-minded individual and that you’re unafraid to take on a challenge. Depending on the interviewer’s response, you may have an opportunity to explain how you’ve delivered outcomes when faced with similar circumstances.

12. How would you describe the company’s or department’s strengths and weaknesses? What can I do to support the team? 

This question demonstrates that you’re interested in supporting the company/department in the long run. It will also allow you to know which strengths you should feature throughout the duration of the interview process. Hiring managers like to see candidates that want to grow within an organization by contributing to the company’s overall success.

13. What are the next steps in the interview process (this should be the last question you ask during each interview)? 

The answer to this question will give you insight on when you should follow up with the interviewer and help you prepare for the second interview. This may also encourage the interviewer to move the hiring process faster instead of sitting on your application for several weeks.

What Questions You Should Not Ask During a First-Round Interview 

While there are many questions you should ask during a first-round interview, there are some questions you should ask later in the interview process. Below are questions you should avoid asking during a first-round interview and recommendations on how and when it is appropriate to ask these questions.

1. What is the salary for this position?

While this is an important part of the job offer, it is better to save this question for later in the interview process. Asking this question will give the interviewer the impression that you are someone who is solely interested in growing their income. Companies are interested in hiring employees that are driven by organizational success rather than individual success. 

2. What are the benefits offered to employees at this company? 

This should be an important factor to consider as you explore job opportunities; however, at the beginning stages of each interview, you should be focused on how you can apply your experience to the position rather than what benefits the company offers.

3. What is the company’s work from home policy? 

Although many companies are happy to let their employees work from home, this question may signal that you’re not interested in connecting with the company and its employees. At this stage of your interview process, you should focus on landing the job before looking for ways out of the office.

4. I belong to an x belief system or religion which prohibits me from working on specific days or times. Is that okay?

While the interviewer will be grateful for your honesty and religion is an extremely just reason to miss work, this question may cause the interviewer to think you’re “no-person” rather than a go-getter. It is very likely that your manager will happily make appropriate accommodations, you’re better off bringing this up once you’ve been given the job offer.

5. I already booked a vacation with my family. Is it okay if I miss these days? 

Similarly, the interviewer may appreciate your honesty but this question comes off presumptuous. Avoid requesting days off before you’ve been given a job offer.

6. What is the company’s policy on paid time off? 

Although PTO is an important consideration when comparing job offers, you should refrain from asking this question early in the interview process. Candidates that ask this question come off as lazy and the type of employee lacks motivation.

7. Is there a strict dress code policy? 

As a rule of thumb, you should always prepare to dress professionally for every interview. This lets the hiring manager or recruiter know you value how you present and will in turn value how you present the company. This question should be asked after you’re offered a position in order to adequately prepare for your first day.

8. What is employee turnover like? 

Although this question provides valuable information, it is often too pointed and may come off as negative. Asking questions like “how long have you been here?” or “Why is this position available?” will give you the information you’re asking for without the risk of sounding negative. It is possible for the hiring manager to think you may have had a negative experience in your last job which can damage the interviewer’s perception of you as a potential employee.

The way you present yourself during an interview will greatly impact the likeliness of you being hired. Be mindful of the questions you ask and always research the company beforehand in order to present yourself as an informed candidate. Prepory’s comprehensive career coaching coaches provide company-specific interview prep amongst a plethora of additional services to prepare you to successfully land your dream job.

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