The job interview is a conversation. It’s a back and forth between you and the interviewer. You’re both trying to assess and gather some information.
They’re trying to see whether they want you to join their company, what value you could provide to the team and to the business. You’re trying to assess whether you want to work for this company, whether you’ll fit in, whether you’ll enjoy the work and what your future holds.
These cover just some of the questions people want to know at a job interview. So why not ask the question? Asking questions will not only get you a good idea of what happens behind the curtain but also will impress the interviewer with your curiosity and enthusiasm.
- What does a typical day look like?
- What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed?
- Can you show me examples of projects I’d be working on?
- What attributes does someone need to have in order to be really successful in this position?
- What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?
- What sort of budget would I be working with?
- Do you expect the main responsibilities for this position to change in the next six months to a year?
- Are there opportunities for advancement or professional development?
- What are the most important things you’d like to see someone accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job?
- What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months?
- What metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?
- How long have you been with the company?
- Has your role changed since you’ve been here?
- What did you do before this?
- What’s your favourite part about working here?
- What gets you most excited about the company’s future?
- Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
- What are the team’s strengths and the team’s biggest challenges?
- What are the common career paths in this department?
- What’s the company and team culture like?
- How would you describe the work environment here—is the work typically collaborative or more independent?
- Is there anything that concerns you about my being a fit for this role?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- Can I answer any final questions for you?
What does a typical day look like?
This is a popular question to ask for good reason. It allows you to explore what your day will be like but also show enthusiasm for those parts of your job that you enjoy.
It will also give you a scope of the workload ahead of you so that you can adjust your plans and expectations accordingly.
It’s a reliable and trusted question and works well in almost every job interview. Keep this one in the bank.
What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed?
This is a great question as it shows that you are thinking of hitting the ground running tackling their urgent needs first.
This can also open up the conversation into how you would handle those tasks and what skills you’ll bring to the table.
Use this question as a follow up to the first question and you will have a good idea of what your first few months will look like at the company.
Can you show me examples of projects I’d be working on?
This will obviously allow you to see what is being worked on and how the business wants their projects done. This can give you an insight into the quality of work they expect when you start.
This can also show the right mix of curiosity, practical ability and enthusiasm that is attractive to interviewers.
What attributes does someone need to have in order to be really successful in this position?
This is a fantastic question as it shows you’re thinking about the future. It also shows that you’re looking to be more than just “an employee” but someone who is dedicated to making a success of yourself, and thus the business.
However, careful how you word this as some interviewers may take this to mean you haven’t fully read and understood the job description or the information given to you throughout the interview. Make sure the emphasis is on being very successful, far beyond the normal requirements.
This also reveals much more than what they would want from a normal employee or their team. It also shows where company values lie and what they define as success.
What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?
This allows you to not only get a good insight into the daily work, it allows you to prepare and overcome any challenges you may face. This shows a practical curiosity to the interviewer and can force them to reveal potential “cons” of the role. If you can handle and prepare for these issues, then you can get into the role and enjoy it all that much faster.
What sort of budget would I be working with?
If the role you’re applying for is budget and ROI driven this question is great. It shows forethought and preparation. However, a word of caution, some businesses are unwilling to reveal this kind of information so try and read the situation to see if it’s suitable to ask the question.
Don’t despair. Even if they say no they will be impressed by your eagerness to get started and formulating a plan centred around the resources you have available.
Do you expect the main responsibilities for this position to change in the next six months to a year?
This is a great question for those roles that are subject to external forces. Laws and regulations change alongside business demands and so asking this question is a wise choice.
This shows you are thinking about the future and that you are ready to adapt within the role. It also forces the interviewer (usually your boss or manager) to truly think about the scope of your work and what you’ll be contributing to the company.
It will also divulge any “scope creep” in your expected duties early on so that you can make the appropriate preparations.
Are there opportunities for advancement or professional development?
There’s no such thing as a job for life anymore. So, consider your future and enquire about what training and opportunities are available to you.
Showing how you’re thinking about your future career and wanting to improve your skillset is always attractive to any potential employer.
So if you’re looking to step up your career, refine and hone your skills then ask this question about your professional development.
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 is a fantastic question and a personal favourite. Like the questions about projects and challenges earlier in this post, this forces them to list out exactly what they want to see from you. If the interviewers answer is detailed enough you can get a real idea of the work culture, what’s expected of you in the long term and what challenges you need to plan for to really get ahead.
You can also use this answer to define the metrics for success that you will need to reach during your probationary period.
What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months?
Another good question and a great follow up to the previous question, focusing on the long term aspects of your role and how the company will view your performance. This can give you extra clarity on what they are after, and if the role is very results orientated, knowing this information can be vital.
This can then be followed up with questions such as, “how do performance reviews work?” to help you really dig into the inner workings of the company and the expectations they will have of you.
What metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?
This is an illuminating insight that will allow you to keep your efforts focused on the results they hold dear. At the end of the day every business works off a particular metric or goal, something quantifiable. In that regard if you know what goal you are working towards you can keep a track of your success and make your game plan revolve around it.
How long have you been with the company?
Never underestimate the importance of building rapport and relationships. By asking this (and the following) questions you’ll show a much more personable and likeable side. You may get a swift and punctual response, but it does help open up the conversation for this line of enquiry.
Has your role changed since you’ve been here?
This does double duty to the previous question “Do you expect the main responsibilities for this position to change in the next six months to a year?” Not only will you get a good idea of how your own role may change, you’ll also build rapport with the interviewer.
What did you do before this?
A great conversation starter and a good way to find any commonality between you and your interviewer. Enough said really.
What’s your favourite part about working here?
A great question that will give you a good insight as to the work culture and the people in the role. You can build a rapport with the question whilst using follow up questions to delve deeper into the work culture and what life is like at the company.
This can also marry up with some of the other questions nicely so that you can get a real feel for the company culture and team effort.
What gets you most excited about the company’s future?
This is a good question to ascertain what’s in the pipeline at the company.
It also allows a bit more of an informal discussion to open up about the projects the company is looking forward to, growth plans and what you will do to help these come to fruition.
Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
This is a good way of showing your social side and getting to understand the team and how you’ll fit in within the culture of the business.
Culture fit (the trendy term) is important because how you fit in with the overall work culture and balance of personalities is just as important as your skills and ability to do the task at hand.
What are the team’s strengths and the team’s biggest challenges?
Every team is going to have strengths and weaknesses. That’s just inevitable, but to ask the interviewer (usually the manager or supervisor of the team) you will get a good sense of what needs work and where you can really excel with your skill sets.
What are the common career paths in this department?
This again shows your forward thinking and career plan. Being proactive about your career is something that most employers are attracted to.
However, the specificity of this question is the key. The answer should show how people within the department (i.e. people like you) have grown and progressed within the company.
When you join a company you’re going to want to be able to grow in your capacity and have opportunities to prove yourself, learn new skills and get a promotion (or two). So asking this question can show you where your best path may be.
What’s the company and team culture like?
We’ve often said about how a certain question could help reveal what the work place culture is like. However, when in doubt, ask.
This question will show that you’re serious about integrating and getting to know the team, and being part of that collaborative effort.
How would you describe the work environment here—is the work typically collaborative or more independent?
This is a good way of understanding how you’re day is probably going to end up like particularly in terms of the social aspect.
Is there anything that concerns you about my being a fit for this role?
This is a great question because it shows humility, self awareness and willingness to improve. It also give you a chance to eliminate any doubts from the mind of the interviewer.
This is a question we highly recommend you saying, as this helps continue the conversation but also shows how you are serious about the role and how you want to ease the interviewers mind, building confidence and a good rapport.
What are the next steps in the interview process?
This is one we would recommend you always ask at an interview, particularly as a closing question. You’re going to want to know and prepare for any additional steps there may be in your job search process so forewarned is forearmed.
Can I answer any final questions for you?
This is an amazing closer as it opens up the chance for them to ask any final questions and help put to rest any doubts they may have that you are the perfect person for the role.
There’s no one singular question that is guaranteed to get you a job or impress an interviewer. You’re going to have to judge it for yourself and see what’s appropriate. Its always wise to keep a handful of good quality questions in the bank ready for any interview as by asking questions it shows you are engaged and inquisitive about the road ahead.