5 Questions You Should Ask in a Job Interview


Questions to Ask During a Job Interview

The questions you ask in a job interview are crucial for two main reasons: 1) they establish you as an intelligent and discerning candidate, and 2) they help you determine whether the job and company are worth your time.

“Do you have any questions for me?”

This is typically the final question you will be asked in a job interview.

Ask the wrong questions and you might look like a bad fit. Ask no questions and you might look indifferent, inexperienced, or uneducated about the position.

But asking the right questions — aside from proving yourself to the hiring manager — is one of your best (and last) chances to determine whether the job and company are a good fit for you.

Here are five questions to get you started.

1. Why is the position vacant?

Jobs open up for a variety of reasons — some positive, some negative. Was the job created because the company is expanding? Was the previous person promoted? Or did he quit or get fired?

The employer’s answer will help you determine whether the job has strong room for growth or a high turnover rate.

2. What is a typical day like for this position?

Most job postings list the position’s responsibilities without saying how much time is allocated to each responsibility. You want to know this information for two reasons.

First, if your typical workday includes spending hours doing something you dislike, you may want to reconsider whether it’s the right job for you.

Second, by discovering which job functions are most important to the employer, you can tailor the remainder of your interview to those areas and include them in your interview follow-up.

3. How would you describe the company culture?

This is one of the single-most important questions to ask. The employer’s response will help you understand what it’s like working there day-to-day, what the company values, how colleagues interact with one another, and so on.

If you’re going to spend the majority of your waking hours on the job, you should make sure the company culture is a good fit.

4. What are the goals of the company over the next five years? How does this position and this department factor into those goals?

This question demonstrates your goal-oriented nature and suggests that you won’t job hop right away.

An informed response will give you insight into the organizational structure and how your position fits into it.

An uninformed response suggest the hiring manager is out of touch with the organization, the organization does a poor job communicating its goals to employees, or the organization is not thinking long-term. None of these are a good sign.

5. Do you like working here?

It’s unlikely the hiring manager will say “No,” but you can still infer a lot from his response.

A moment’s hesitation followed only by, “Uh… yeah… I do” might be a red flag. A smile and explanation of why he likes working there, on the other hand, signifies a more genuine response.

If you interview with multiple employees during your job interview, ask them each similar questions. This is particularly helpful when it comes to the subjective questions (e.g. “How would you describe the company culture?” and “Do you like working here?”).

Doing so will help you paint a more complete picture of the organization, which will help you make the best decision once you’re offered the job.

Your Turn

What are your go-to questions to ask the employer?

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Posted in Job Search Strategy
  • Lynda Hallock, CEO LGH Recruitment

    Oh my, I would never have anyone ask that question so bluntly…they may not want to tell you or you may not want to know. You might word it ” Is this a newly created position?”
    I like the concept of asking questions just not how they were phrased:
    ” Where will the majority of my time be spent doing ABC or xyz?”
    ” How long have you been working here?” Is manager of XYZ (whatever) your original position or did you advance with the company?” add questions to his/her answer. A much better gauge of company culture.
    ” I have a good sense of the companies culture, perhaps you can give me some feedback on how you feel I would fit in/be an asset?” You will get much more out of her/his response that asking as a direct question.

    A candidate should have been asking these questions all along and should have done their homework regarding the company BEFORE the interview. That is the key to landing the job!

    • Durga Truex

      Tact and diplomacy are important, but in my opinion, straightforwardness is equally so. This requires skilled communication so as to be direct without being offensive. However, if someone is put off by a direct question such as, “Why is the position vacant?”, I would have serious reservations about the job. Two main reasons are 1) If they feel the need to be secretive about why they have an open position in the company, what else are they secretive about and how will that affect me? and 2) If direct and open communication are not part of their company culture, would I even be a fit there?
      Last, specific to that question alone, 3) it is not enough for me to know whether a position was newly created. Knowing WHY the position was vacated gives essential cues as to what kind of mobility is available in the organization and whether they have high turnover or fire people arbitrarily for trivial things.

      Knowing ones own core values is essential when considering devoting your time, energy, and talent to an organization. I for one prioritize transparency and clarity above all else. If I get the sense that no one wants to give straight answers to perfectly reasonable questions, I don’t want to work there.

  • Rachel Dotson

    Excellent point about the importance of wording. Tact is of the utmost importance throughout the entire interview process — particularly in the interview!

    • Manuel

      Couldn’t have worded it better myself