When preparing for a job interview, a lot of emphasis is put on anticipating what questions will be asked and crafting responses for them. And that’s certainly an important exercise – but coming up with answers to questions is only part of the equation. You should also arrive at your interview ready to ask questions.
Why Is Asking Questions Important?
A job interview isn’t an exam; it’s a conversation during which you and an employer are trying to determine if there is a fit between your skills and experience and their organization. And whether or not there is a good fit should be as important to you as it is to the employer. After all, if you do get an offer, you want to be sure that the organization is a place where you’ll be able to function well, succeed and further develop your career.
For that reason alone (determining whether a company is right for you) asking questions of a potential employer is important. But that’s not the only reason. Just as employers evaluate candidates based on their answers to questions, they also judge them based on the questions they ask. And if you don’t have any questions – especially at the point when your interviewer asks whether you have any – you’re not likely to go much further in the hiring process.
Asking good questions during an interview shows that you’re tuned in and engaged in the process, and that you actually care about where you work. Furthermore, your questions give employers more insight into how you think and what you value when it comes to your work, all of which have the potential to strengthen your standing as a candidate.
"I'm always surprised at the lack of good questions candidates have, and I always respect the candidates that ask insightful questions during interviews," says Andrew Quinn, a vice president at HubSpot.
Types of Questions to Ask
The questions that you ask during a job interview should seek to get more clarity about the role for which you’re interviewing as well as the organization as a whole – questions such as:
- How would you describe the organization’s culture?
- What do you enjoy about working here?
- How would performance be measured in this role?
- Are there any hesitations about my background that I could address?
- What are some of the challenges the company is facing and how could I help address those in this role?
- What are some of the challenges specific to this role?
- Is this a new position? If so, why was it created? If not, what happened to the person who filled it previously?
- Who would I be working with?
- What is the organizational hierarchy and where does this role fit into it?
Another good tact is to do some research about what the company has been up to lately – such as new product launches are major organizational changes – and then asking questions based on what you found out. These types of questions will show that you’ve gone above and beyond in your preparation as well as providing deeper insights into the company itself. And don’t be shy about asking follow-ups based on the interviewer’s answers to your questions. The point is to get valuable information for yourself while keeping the conversation going.
Types of Questions Not to Ask
There are some questions that you should not ask during a job interview. First, avoid asking questions about things that are easily researchable, such as the general business a company is in. Also, asking about salary, benefits and perks is premature at the interview stage, which is a time for you to demonstrate what you have to offer as a candidate.