Best Types of Questions to Ask an Interviewer

Job interviews are naturally very stressful. If you do not properly prepare for a job interview, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the questions, and give weak or unsatisfactory answers.

However, you should not make the common mistake of only preparing to answer questions. At the end of an interview, it is very common for the hiring manager to ask if you have any questions.

Asking questions is important, because it is a good way for you to show an interest in the job. In addition, it gives you a chance to take control of the narrative. If you feel you did a poor job answering some of the interview questions, this is your chance to present yourself in a better light. The best questions to ask are the ones that show your interest in the company, and highlight some of your strengths. However, you have to be careful not to ask too many questions or come off as overly aggressive during the interview. It may be difficult, but mastering the art of asking interview questions may ultimately determine whether you get the job.

Questions Regarding the Job

Hiring managers are interested in candidates who care about the position. One of the simplest ways to show you are invested in the job is to ask questions about your responsibilities. Asking these questions shows your hiring manager or prospective employer you have taken the time to research and understand the position for which you are vying, which suggests you are genuinely interested in your chosen career. These are also good baseline questions that can lead into more involved questions for other categories. Some of the basic questions you can ask regarding your job include:

  • What are the most immediate projects the company needs completed?
  • Can you show me any examples of previous projects similar to what I will be working on?
  • What type of skills are most important for the position? (If you are working in a team position, you can also ask about what specific skills are currently missing or lacking among the team.)
  • What are the biggest challenges for the position?
  • What type of training is necessary for the job?

Questions Regarding the Company

In addition to asking general questions about the job, you should ask a few questions about the company. Asking questions about the company is a great way to show how interested you are in the job. For a hiring manager, it shows you are very passionate about working for the company. It is also a subtle way to project confidence, since asking these questions implies you will be hired. As a result, it can also be a good way to gauge the interest level of the hiring manager. If the hiring manager brushes off your questions, he or she is unlikely to hire you. While this may be discouraging, you may be able to salvage the interview with additional questions. When asking about the company, some of the most common questions include:

  • What is different about working here, compared to other companies or departments?
  • How has the company changed since you first joined?
  • In what kind of events does the company or department participate? If you are working in a team position, you can also ask how often the teams get together.
  • What is the work environment like? Is work typically done in groups, or independently?
  • What values are most important to the company?
  • Are there any major goals or projects the company is currently working toward?

Questions to Show Your Experience

Not all interviews go well in the beginning. Your interviewer may have asked questions you were not prepared for, or you might have botched an answer to an important question. One of the ways you can recover during the interview is to ask questions that are largely designed to show off your experience. If you have worked in a previous position, you should base your questions around your old job. For example, you can mention past problems you had to solve at your old job, and ask how such a situation would be handled at the company at which you are applying. This gives you a chance to show you understand the difficulties associated with the job, and it also gives you a chance to show how you handled a difficult position in the past.

Try to base your questions around areas you felt went poorly in the early part of the interview. By asking these questions, you are essentially getting a second chance to impress the hiring manager. For example, if you botched a question about working with a team, you could bring up previous communication methods you used in another job, and ask if the company also uses this same communication method, or if there is a different preference. This is a nice way to establish that you have prior experience working with a team, and that you recognize how important it is for team members to communicate with one another. You could also use the question as a chance to talk about meetings you have set up or other changes you have made to better communicate with your team.

While these questions are good opportunities to highlight your experience, you need to make sure you are actually asking relevant questions, and not bragging about your past experience. For example, you could ask, “With my previous project, I set up an email group and shared a network folder for everyone to submit their work. Would I be able to do something similar in this position?” Always try to list your prior experience first, and then segue into an actual question.

Is the job right for you?

Asking questions is a good way to impress your interviewer or recover from a questionable interview, but it is also a chance for you to judge whether the job is truly what you are seeking. For these questions, you need to focus on what areas are most important to you. For example, many applicants ask what the toughest time of the month or year is for the position for which they are applying. Other employees may ask about the work schedule, or whether they are expected to bring work home.

What to Avoid When Asking Questions

You should never ask questions that have an obvious answer. By asking these questions, you are telling your interviewer you do not understand the basics of the job. You should also avoid asking questions about pay or benefits. These details are negotiated after you have been accepted. It also gives the impression you are only interested in a paycheck, and less interested in the company.

You should also avoid asking too many questions, as this can overwhelm your hiring manager. It may also give the impression you will need constant management if you are hired. A common piece of advice when preparing for an interview is to draft more questions than you actually intend to ask, as some of the questions you ask may naturally be covered during the interview. In most interviews, you should avoid asking more than three questions.

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