From doing your research on a company beforehand to reading up on the most common interview questions, preparation is the key to acing an interview. However, it’s also important to have some smart questions on hand that you can ask at the end of your interview. Once the interviewer is done asking their questions, they will ask if you have any questions for them. This isn’t to be polite – it’s a way to assess your skills further, while also giving you the chance to gain new information on the company and the position you’re interviewing for. Not only does this show the person interviewing you that you’re invested in the position and can think critically, you can also gain some important intel if you’re offered the position and are deciding whether or not to accept.
You might think of some questions to ask on the spot based on the conversation between you and your interviewer, but it’s good to have some questions prepared in advance. If you’re unsure of which questions you should ask, below are some questions that should work regardless of the role you’re applying for. Keep three or four of these in mind for the end of the interview, and be sure you’re not asking something that was already answered during the interview.
- Is there anything I said during the interview you want me to expand on before I ask a few questions?
- Do you have any hesitations about my background or skills in relation to this position?
- Why did you join the company?
- What is your favorite part about working here?
- How would you describe the culture in the office?
- What challenges is the business currently facing?
- What are the near/mid/long term goals of the company?
- What kind of team would I be working on? Is it collaborative, or more individually-focused?
- What challenges does someone in this role face?
- What traits have people that have been successful in the position demonstrated?
- What would you expect someone in my position to accomplish in the first few months on the job?
- How do you typically measure success in this role?
- What are the opportunities for professional development at the company?
- Where do people who have held this position typically end up next?
- What are the next steps in this process?
On the flip side, it’s helpful to know some specific questions not to ask at the end of the interview. Here are some definite question areas to avoid:
Anything you can Google.
It sounds obvious, but you shouldn’t be asking questions in an interview that can be answered by a Google search or a look around the company website. Use your research on the company beforehand to provide context for questions you ask.
Asking about compensation too early.
There’s a chance if you’re later on in the interview process, the person interviewing you might bring this up. However if they don’t, you might bring up the topic of compensation if you’re past the phone interview or first-round interview. Avoid asking about how much a position pays early on in the interview process, and proceed with caution when asking about it later on. Instead of outright asking, “What does this position pay?”, you can ask if the company offers competitive compensation. You can also provide a pay range based on research you have done and ask if the pay they offer is typically within that range.
The amount of time you will have to work.
Asking if you have to work long hours or put in extra time on the weekends might be a valid question, but it can send the wrong message in an interview. If you really want to know, ask about what a typical day looks like for someone in this role or save this kind of question for after you have the offer.
Any special requests.
There are some questions that you shouldn’t ask until you’ve been offered the job. Asking questions about time off, benefits, remote work, frequency of pay raises, stipends, or anything not specifically related to the job itself can be a red flag that you’re not interested in the position for the right reasons.
Questions that might raise some doubt.
Asking if a company requires a drug test or a background check for the position might have the interviewer wondering if you have anything to hide. Similarly, asking what constitutes a fireable offense can leave the interviewer feeling uneasy.
When in doubt, ask questions that focus on the company culture and what’s expected of successful employees. Your questions likely won’t make or break your chances of getting the job, but coming in prepared with solid questions provides another reason why a company should hire you.