28 Smart Questions to Ask During (And After) a Job Interview
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While job interviews often have a reasonably predictable structure and are meant to assess your fit for a potential new job or role, they are also two-way conversations. During a job interview, you can ask questions and interact with the recruiter or hiring manager to better understand the company, the role, and the tasks you might be asked to perform.
If there is one fundamental tip that applies to all types of interviews, in all markets, no matter what your level of experience and preparation is, it’s this: ask smart questions and actively interact with the interviewer.
Not only do questions and interactions help communicate you are interested and curious (which will make you immediately stand out from candidates who don’t), but they can also help you keep some control over the conversation and guide it to points you want to talk about.
Moreover, questions help you gauge company values, habits, and culture, so you can make the most informed decision should you get an offer.
Of course, we all look for different things and value different qualities in our workplace, which is why asking questions is so important.
Keep in mind that questions are not only limited to the interview. Consider the whole hiring process as an open conversation where interviewees should always have the opportunity to get in touch and ask questions as they arise. This may be an excellent way to build rapport and stand out if done honestly and without spamming your recruiter’s inbox.
Here are some of the best questions you can ask recruiters to help maximize your chances of getting that job offer you set your eyes on.
Questions to ask during the interview
As we mentioned, the first thing to do is approach the interview as a conversation rather than an exam. Job interview questions will likely relate to details regarding the role, expectations, team, and skills. When you have an opportunity, consider asking questions such as:
What are the biggest challenges facing this role, and how can I contribute to overcoming them?
In most interviews, the role details will be described early on, sometimes even before diving into your experience and skills. Asking about the role’s challenges will give you a more realistic picture of what to expect while also communicating that you are pragmatic and realistic. Asking how you can contribute to solving them can let you know what aspects of your profile the recruiter values the most.
Can you tell me about the team I would be working with and what their backgrounds and experience are like?
Good teamwork is vital to most roles, so you need to know what the strengths of your potential team are and what its composition is. Moreover, it communicates you are a team player and are interested in a healthy team as much as you are in the role.
Are there any particular skills or experiences that would be especially valuable for this role?
This question dives a bit deeper into the company’s expectations and wishes. You can tie this into discussing the role in more detail or highlighting additional skills you have that may not fit in your CV but are relevant to the role.
How does this position fit into the overall strategy and goals of the company?
Demonstrating an interest in the company and its development that goes beyond the limits of your role is always a good idea. It can help you score points with the recruiter but, more importantly, better understand if the direction the company plans to take fits your goals.
How has the company responded to challenges such as [X]?
Every workplace has its challenges, and there should be no shame in discussing them. A recruiter’s reaction to this question can reveal much about the work environment. Still, it can also help you understand what challenges you will have to overcome and how the organization will support you.
Is the role fully remote, hybrid, or am I expected to be in the office on certain days?
There can still be a lot of unclarity regarding the definition of remote, flexible, and hybrid work. Many organizations have their own definitions or no definition at all. If being able to work from home or having free access to office facilities is a fundamental requirement for your next job, make sure to discuss this early on, and to pay close attention to the answer.
Questions to ask at the end of the interview
As the interview ends, you will usually be prompted to ask any further questions you might have. Take advantage of this opportunity, as it shows you are interested and comfortable. This is your opportunity to ask questions that dive into details of the role you may not have covered or address aspects of the company overall.
What are some of the company’s current goals or initiatives?
By asking this, you communicate curiosity for the organization as a whole and the market it operates in. It is also a chance to learn about cultural initiatives such as diversity and inclusion and environmental or corporate social responsibility projects you are passionate about.
Could you tell me more about the company culture and what it’s like to work here?
This is an important question. Understanding if your work environment fits your personality, from day-to-day routine to management style and values, can make the difference between a dream job and a miserable experience. Based on their answer, you could share any personal values or preferences that match their culture.
What is the next step in the hiring process, and when can I expect to hear back from you?
Keep this question for the end, after everything else has been discussed. It will give you practical information on what to expect next and demonstrate you are still focused on a productive conversation and eager to move forward with the hiring process.
How do you enjoy working here, and what do you like/dislike about it?
Directly addressing the recruiter and their experience is another good way to develop a rapport and gain valuable insights about company culture. Keeping this question for the end of the interview will also help keep it informal and light.
Questions to ask after the interview
Just because the interview ended doesn’t mean your opportunities to ask questions are over too. There will always be things you forgot to mention or ask about during the interview, and a recruiter should always be available to answer. Some good follow-up questions include:
Are there any additional materials or references you would like me to provide to support my candidacy?
Additional materials such as work samples, references, or portfolios might already have been discussed during the interview, but if not, why not be proactive and offer them directly?
Is there anything in my experience or background you would like me to clarify or expand upon?
Just as you may have overlooked some questions or topics you later realize you want more info about, so can the recruiter. Allowing them to dive deeper into your skills and experience makes their job easier and communicates confidence.
Can you provide feedback on my interview performance or areas where I could improve?
This question can be very valuable, especially if you do not get the job. The insights you gain can help you improve your approach for future interviews.
Evaluating your recruiter’s answers
The answers a recruiter will give you, and the attitude and vibe they communicate can say a lot.
For example, if they give detailed and well-motivated answers to questions that might be uncomfortable, this may demonstrate a culture of open communication and transparency. However, if they gloss over your questions, seem annoyed, or give canned answers, it may signal this is not the right place for you.
An excellent approach to follow is to ask yourself some questions about the interview (and interviewer) after the call while it’s still fresh in your mind. It can even help to have a fixed list of questions you ask yourself after each interview. This might help you evaluate potential employers more objectively. Ask yourself questions like:
Was the interview pleasant?
First impressions count. While they should not be all you base your opinion on, if good chemistry is immediate, that is likely a good sign.
Was the interview process well-organized and professional?
The answer to this question may give you some clues on what to expect from the company in general, should you be hired. An unprofessional interview should raise some concerns.
Were all my questions answered fully?
If your questions are answered evasively, this may indicate two potential issues. On the one hand, the recruiter may be trying to avoid some topics or issues that may not sit well with you. On the other hand, they may not have enough details to answer fully, which can also be a bad sign as it shows not enough effort is being put into effective recruitment.
Does the company seem open to my needs and expectations?
As we mentioned a few times already, hiring for a role is a two-way conversation. If the company is not open to considering or discussing your needs or requirements, this says something about the company environment in general.
What cultural elements were emphasized?
Company culture can have a significant impact on a worker’s experience within an organization, and hopefully, it was discussed during the interview. Did the elements the recruiter highlighted resonate with you, and did cultural factors you are passionate about come up during the conversation? That is usually a good sign.
Were any issues dodged?
No company is perfect, and an honest recruiter should be able to answer even the most inquisitive questions without running for the hills. If you feel they have been dodging some answers to issues you raised, you may want to think about what else is being hidden behind a veneer of perfection.
Was the interviewer knowledgeable about the company and the role?
A good recruiter is not just checking boxes. They should be well-embedded in the organization and have a very clear understanding of team and role structures.
Were the company’s future goals and plans discussed?
A recruiter should be able to give you info on how the company is planning to grow and develop. A job is often a long-term investment, so you want to make sure your trajectory matches the company’s.
Was I given a good explanation of the job responsibilities and requirements?
While culture and future goals are essential and should be discussed, ultimately, you are being hired for a specific role. It’s always a good sign if the recruiter is able to dive into details about what will be expected from you and what your tasks and projects will be.
Was information about the salary and benefits package provided?
This is a crucial point. Clarity about compensation is a key factor and should not be delayed or overlooked. While they might not be able to give you exact details right away, they should be able to provide a salary range and standard benefits.
Evaluating your own performance
One last set of questions that could be very helpful in improving your chances of landing your dream job are the ones you should ask yourself about your own performance after an interview.
Clearly identifying areas you can improve in or what makes you stand out can help you approach the next round of interviews with more confidence and better preparation.
Questions to ask yourself include:
Was I adequately prepared?
You might be the kind of person that prepares for every interview, or you might prefer to wing it every time. In any case, coming out of an interview, you should be able to honestly answer this question. If you feel you were not prepared, make sure you figure out ways to fix this in your next interview.
Did I demonstrate my skills and qualifications effectively?
Sometimes having the proper certifications and experience on paper is not enough if you aren’t able to quickly and effectively communicate your expertise during an interview. Figuring out how to make your strengths shine instantly can be vital in getting your next job.
Did I listen actively and respond appropriately to the interviewer’s questions?
Just as you expect clear and complete answers from your interviewer, they will appreciate it if you can do the same.
Did I convey my enthusiasm for the position and the company?
An enthusiastic and motivated candidate may get the job over a more qualified but apathetic one. Make sure your passion and drive come through during the interview, especially if you are interviewing for a role you love or a company you would genuinely like to be a part of.
Did I communicate my strengths and achievements clearly?
You know your skills and strengths, but what is clear to you might not be as evident to an outsider. Make sure you know exactly where you want to drive the recruiter’s interest and curiosity and make sure you have the skills to feed that curiosity.
Armed with these questions, you are well on your way to acing your next interview and the ones after that. Take this list as a starting point, and feel free to add any other questions you feel fit your profile or experience best.
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