The Questions You Really Should Ask in a Job Interview

Go ahead and wipe your sweaty palms on your dress pants, because you’ve made it to the end of your job interview. You’re feeling like you knocked it out of the park. Then your interviewer looks at you and says, “Do you have any questions for me?”

Your mouth goes dry, your stomach drops to your shoes, and suddenly the only thing in your brain is the Jeopardy theme song.

You polished your elevator pitch, memorized the company’s history, and perfected your answers. But this? This you totally forgot to prepare for.

Sound familiar? Yep, I’ve been there too. It’s a disheartening scenario—and one you definitely don’t want to find yourself in again. So, let’s dig into some of the best questions to ask at the end of a job interview. Keep them in your back pocket, and you’ll be prepared to wrap up that conversation on a high note.

 

But wait… do you have to ask questions?

Here’s the short answer: yes. This is your chance to emphasize your interest in the position and the company, as well as to demonstrate that you’ve done some research.

If that’s not enough to convince you, keep in mind that this is a great opportunity to find out more about that employer and the role you’ve applied for.

You can only learn so much from a job description, and asking your interviewer some thoughtful, well-prepared questions is about more than looking good—it offers a lot of value for you too.

 

 

Asking questions emphasizes your interest in the position and proves that you’ve done your research.

 

 

Questions to ask at the end of a job interview

When you know you’re supposed to ask questions, it’s tempting to throw anything out there in the interest of filling the silence. However, not all questions are created equal and some will do more harm than good.

Don’t ask any questions that you should already know the answer to. If you did your research ahead of the interview (which, side note, you should always do) you’ll already know important facts like the company’s history, size, and mission statement, as well as some of the core responsibilities of the role. If you ask about them, you run the risk of looking unprepared.

So, that begs the question: What should you ask? Here are eight standout questions.

 

 

1. Why is this position available?

Did the person who previously filled this role leave? Were they promoted? Did they move to a different job or department within the company? Is this a new position entirely?

This one can be a bit nerve-wracking to ask, but remember that the interview is a two-way street. You’re entitled to get the information you need, and this is the only way you’ll learn why that position is vacant.

 

2. What’s the most pressing goal for whoever fills this position?

Chances are, that employer isn’t filling that position to check a box. They want to bring someone onboard who will drive change and make an impact.

This question demonstrates that you’re achievement-oriented and eager to make a difference at that company. It will also give you a great sense of how high-pressure that job might be.

 

3. What is one skill that you think will make someone most impactful in this position?

You’ve already taken a fine-tooth comb to the job’s requirements and you have a pretty good handle on what they’re looking for. But, this question will help you go past surface-level qualifications and get into the nitty gritty.

Does somebody need to be an expert with Google Analytics? Do they need to be skilled at explaining complex topics in simple terms? A diligent project manager? A fearless negotiator?

Find out what one quality they deem most important. That’s helpful for determining whether or not you’re really the best fit to take those responsibilities on.

 

4. What opportunities for professional development do you offer?

Growth and advancement matter to you, and you aren’t alone. One LinkedIn study found that 94 percent of employees would stay at a company if it invested in their learning and development.

From lunch and learns or seminars to structured paths for promotions, find out how that company prioritizes employee growth. In addition to getting valuable information about your potential future, it also shows that employer that you’re eager to thrive within the company.

 

5. What three words would you use to describe the team?

You’ll spend right around one third of your life at work. That’s not only a lot of time spent at your desk, but a lot of time spent with your coworkers. Needless to say, it’s important to find a team that you enjoy working with.

How would your interviewer describe the team you’d be working with? Are they close-knit, collaborative, and encouraging? Are they driven, fast-paced, and passionate? These adjectives can help you suss out whether or not that team culture is a good match for you.

 

6. What’s your favorite part about working here?

Company culture is such a huge part of enjoying where you work, but it’s also notoriously hard to figure out before you actually start working there.

This question is a straightforward way to learn a little bit more about that work environment. Plus, it’s more digestible and approachable for your interviewer, as opposed to asking something more general like, “What’s the culture like?”

 

Company culture is a huge part of enjoying where you work, but it’s also notoriously hard to figure out.

 

7. Where do you see the company in the next 3-5 years?

You might’ve been asked a question like this one in interviews, and it’s a good one to turn around on employers.

They might not be able to give you a super detailed answer and, of course, they’ll be careful not to divulge any confidential information until you’re actually hired. However, this will clue you in on whether the company has any major growth plans, product releases, or strategy shifts in the works.

 

8. What are the next steps in the hiring process?

You know how this goes. You leave that conversation with no clue if you’ll hear about the job in two minutes or two weeks (or even worse, not at all).

Here’s the good news: This question gives you a little bit of power back. Make it the very last question you ask to get a better grasp on what’s next in the process and whether or not they have a timeline in place for making a decision. You’ll save yourself a lot of wondering and compulsive inbox-refreshing.

It’s hard to guarantee with any level of certainty what you’ll be asked in a job interview. But, I’m willing to bet that your interviewer will wrap things up by asking if you have any questions.

Fair warning: your answer better be yes. Have a few of these questions ready to go (jot them down ahead of time if you have to!) and you’ll present yourself as polished, professional, and prepared—while also getting your hands on some valuable information.