Many people go into job interviews expecting something akin to an interrogation. Of course, you know you’re going to be asked questions. That’s the whole point.
Still, many job seekers expect that questioning to be much more difficult than it generally ends up being. The fact is that job interviews shouldn’t be terrifying. After all, it’s not like an action movie where the hero ends up with a bright light being shone in his face while questions are screamed at him by his interrogators.
And while you’ll have the bulk of the questions thrown at you, remember that an interview is a two-way process. It’s as much about whether you’d be a good fit for the job as it is for you to decide if you’d be happy working there. This means you’ll get your chance to pipe up with a few questions of your own.
Yes, that’s right; the hiring manager won’t be the only one asking questions. In fact, your success may depend on having your own list of great questions to ask in an interview, as that can boost your chances of securing that job.
So, when preparing for any type of interview, you should have a few prepared questions to ask your interviewer. It’s standard practice in 2023, and interviewers will expect it. It offers you the chance to further demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in the job. If you don’t have questions to ask in an interview, you could come across as passive and just not that bothered.
But what type of questions should you ask? Look no further, as we have the answer! Below are 12 key questions to ask in an interview that should increase your odds of landing that job.
1. “Would you like me to clarify anything?”
Being in an interview can sometimes make your brain go all mushy, so you feel a little light-headed. You might have answered the questions but not really “answered the questions” (i.e., haven’t gone into enough depth) or said what you actually planned to say as it all went out of the window when you panicked in this unnatural setting.
This question, then, gives you the chance to push aside anything that wasn’t clear and really nail it. By asking whether they need anything clarified, you can help t ensure that they fully understand your answers and are armed with the information needed to make the great decision of hiring you!
Of the great questions to ask in an interview, this is one that can help refocus the hiring manager on your qualifications. It could lead to more questions being fired at you, so make sure that you are properly prepared to answer anything else that comes your way.
2. “What can an individual in this role hope to achieve in six months/a year/10 years?”
As previously mentioned, an interview isn’t just about determining whether you’re right for the job but should help you determine whether the job is right for you. This question will help you decide, as it can provide valuable insight into the company’s structure and any opportunities that might be available there in the future.
Be on the lookout for vague, uncertain answers or answers that suggest that there is no clear path for career progression. This should ring alarm bells, as it can be an indicator that the company's culture is weak, stagnant, or even toxic. Keep that in mind when deciding whether to take the job or not… if it’s offered to you.
3. “What are the most important qualities to have in this role?”
This question can help steer the conversation back toward your qualifications. It enables you to directly match your skills to the job’s requirements. Every job has a set of key traits that the employee must possess to achieve success, whether that’s leadership, creativity, or an eye for detail.
If the answer includes skills that you possess, it’s a great sign that you’re a good fit. If not, you may need to draw upon related skills and qualities or accept that the job might not be the right one for you.
4. “What sorts of skills are the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?”
Related to question number three above, as one of the key questions to ask in an interview, this offers up the opportunity to elaborate on any skills you have that haven’t previously been mentioned during the interview. Whether it’s soft skills, a specific technical requirement, or financial strengths, you should be able to confirm that you have the skill set required.
5. “Do you have any concerns regarding my qualifications?”
You certainly need a lot of self-confidence when asking this question, as it invites the interviewer to critique your strengths and weaknesses in a direct way. Still, Kathryn Castro, a recruiting consultant, suggests that there are real benefits to this approach.
She says, “By giving the recruiter the opportunity to discuss anything that was playing on their minds, you’ll have the opportunity to prove yourself. This question can also be phrased to address work gaps you might have in your career or any gaps in your education.”
6. “Does the company offer relevant courses or any continued professional development opportunities?”
Of course, this question is only relevant if you’re planning on building a career at the company, viewing the position as something more than a stopgap or a temporary solution.
The good news is that this simple question can offer a great deal of insight into a company’s culture. It will reveal how the company feels about investing in its workers and could give you a hint about where you might be in five years’ time.
7. “Why does this position matter to the company?”
If job satisfaction is among your top concerns, then this is a vital question to ask in an interview. And let’s be honest, to a certain degree, job satisfaction is an important concern for everyone.
With this question, you will gain valuable insight into how the company views your role.
Are you filling a role that is a priority for management and leadership?
Is it considered a critical part of operations?
More importantly, how will you fit into the company’s short and long-term plans?
8. “What are the biggest challenges I might face in this position?”
This is another question to ask in an interview that could potentially offer up vital insight. Naturally, every job has its challenges. With this question, you’ll get those challenges out on the table, which eliminates any future surprises. That can help you to determine whether you are up for the job, possibly saving you… and the business… wasted time and money if you don’t feel you are.
Perhaps more importantly though, is the image that this question conveys. By focusing on specific challenges that need to be overcome, you will reveal your competence and indicate that you have strong conflict-resolution skills.
It’s also one of those cleverly phrased questions that assumes you’ve already secured the role, a subtle psychological technique that projects inner confidence and helps further persuade the hiring team that you’re the ideal candidate for the job.
9. “How important is [insert key skill here] to the position?”
If you haven’t been asked about something during the interview that you feel illustrates an important aspect of your ability to perform the job, this is the question to ask in an interview to correct that. When the interviewer then states that it is, indeed, very important, you’ll have carte blanche to roll out a prepared example that demonstrates your expertise in the skill.
10. “Do you have any reservations about my application?”
Another question that requires a lot of nerve. You’d better be super prepared to comprehensively answer anything that comes your way. If you can uncover any possible objections that the interviewer might have and counter-attack effectively, it could make all the difference.
If nothing else, it shows the belief you have in yourself, and that’s never going to be a bad attribute to possess. Self-assessment is a highly coveted interpersonal skill!
11. “Why do you enjoy working for the company?”
This type of question immediately puts the interviewer on the spot and often leads to some very useful insight into how the company ticks. Keep a close eye on the interviewer as you say this, watching out for the type of body language they convey to give an indication of their true feelings, no matter what words come out of their mouths. From that, you can learn everything you need to know.
12. “Do you need me to do anything else?”
This is a great question to ensure that you have done everything you can to improve your odds of getting hired. It can also help you stand out from the crowd since most job candidates are far too eager to end the interview as soon as the last question has been answered.
Besides, it is important to know whether there are additional steps you can take to improve your chances. Interviewers might sometimes forget to tell you important things, and that could cause you to miss out on an opportunity if there are deadlines involved.
ZipJob Tip: Whichever questions you select to ask at an interview, be aware that they can reveal a lot about you as a person and employee—your motivations, your requirements, and the way you think. So remember this and keep your questions positive and upbeat.
Questions to avoid
While you now have a good idea of the type of questions to ask in an interview, it’s good to know what not to ask.
Questions where the interviewer would expect you to know the answer, such as those about the organization, which a quick look at their website would reveal. It shows a lack of preparation.
Questions about holiday leave or pay, as this can place too much emphasis on what you’re expecting from the company rather than what you can offer the company.
Questions that the interviewer is unlikely to know the answer to, as it can make them look foolish, and you don’t want to create that sort of atmosphere as your last impression!
Once you’ve had your go at asking questions, it will probably be time for the interviewer to wrap up. At this juncture, always ask what you should expect next. This will let you know their timescale and give you an indication of when you might hear back for the next round of interviews or get that job offer.
You should also make sure that you have the interviewer’s contact email so that you can write a follow-up email in a professional and accurate way.
And last, but by no means least, remember to smile when thanking the interviewer for their time.
There are clear benefits to attending an interview armed with some intelligent and thought-provoking questions, with three or four being plenty. It will mean you’ll stand out from the crowd and ensure that you’re seen as a cut above the rest of the competition.
So be fearless, ask pertinent questions, and watch those job offers come rolling in!
Brushing up on your interview technique is always going to be useful. How about doing the same with your resume? Make sure it hits the sweet spot with a free resume review tool that analyzes and scrutinizes your resume, offering up ways in which to improve your job search documents.
Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer, Elizabeth Openshaw, Editor & Content Writer
Elizabeth Openshaw is an Elite CV Consultant of 11 years based in Brighton, UK, with an English degree and an addiction to Wordle! She is a former Journalist of 17 years with the claim to fame that she interviewed three times Grand Slam winner and former World No.1 tennis player, Andy Murray, when he was just 14 years old. You can connect with her at Elizabeth Openshaw | LinkedIn.