25 Smart Questions You Can Ask in an Interview
It’s the day of the big interview for your dream job. You’ve been prepping for weeks. You know the company in and out. You know why you’re the best candidate for the job. You’re ready to talk about your skills, weaknesses, ideas, plans, hopes, dreams, and favorite TV show.
And then they ask: any questions for us? And you’ve got nothing.
Don’t be that person. Acing an interview doesn’t just mean knowing all the answers to the questions that get thrown at you: it also involves having a good set of questions to ask them. Having smart questions prepared in advance shows that you’re motivated, that you’ve done your homework, and that you’re invested in learning more and being informed.
Good questions can also show what kind of a thinker you are or demonstrate your personality, giving you an extra boost as that candidate who thinks critically and digs for information successfully.
And most importantly, the answers you get can help you make sure you’re making the right choice in this job you’re applying for. After all, it’s not all about impressing the hiring manager: the company should impress you, too. That’s the difference between a good job and a dream job: making sure that not only does it look good on paper, but that it’s the right fit for you.
These cover the basic categories you might want to know about. Consider this the footnotes version of the kinds of questions you might want to ask.
- What’s life on the job like?
- What kind of training do they offer?
- How is feedback provided?
- What’s the company culture like?
- Who’s on the team you’ll be working with, are they cool, and how does working together work?
- What are the next steps in the interview process? In other words, when are you going to tell me whether I’m hired?
But to get the answers you really want, you probably want to get even more specific in the questions you ask. Sure, you probably won’t have time to ask a full list of twenty-five questions, but the more specific you get, the better informed you’ll be. Especially if there are a few uncertainties about the job niggling at the back of your mind, this is the time to make sure you have the answers you need before making a big decision.
And so, here are twenty-five great questions to ask to impress your potential bosses, find out what you need to know, and set yourself up for success. Pick and choose based on the conversation you’re having with the interviewer and the questions you actually have.
1. Can you describe an average day at the office?
2. What characteristics and abilities does a successful employee here generally have?
3. What are the key responsibilities of this position, and do you expect them to change within the next year or so?
4. What are the upcoming projects I’d be working on during my first few weeks?
5. Are there gaps in the current team’s skillset or experience that my position is meant to fill?
6. Can you describe the company’s objectives and current projects? How does our team contribute to those?
7. What does the training process look like?
8. How long does it usually take for a member of the team to feel fully trained and up to speed?
9. What recommendations do you have for pursuing professional development and advancement at this company?
10. How will my performance be evaluated? Are there both formal and informal feedback processes?
11. Are there plans for the company’s growth or new developments in the pipeline in the next few years?
12. The company’s mission statement emphasizes [fill in the blank]. Can you tell me how that comes across in daily life working here?
13. Can you tell me about the other people I’ll be working with closely?
14. Whom will I be reporting to? And [if you’re applying to a more senior position] who will be reporting to me?
15. In your experience, what are some of the highlights of working here?
16. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had working here?
17. How did you end up here, and how has your role changed since you started?
18. Has the company changed in any notable ways since you started here?
19. Does the work process involve more team collaboration or individual projects, or are there any other formats you use?
20. What other departments does our team most frequently interact with, either on a formal or a casual level?
21. Are there any office traditions or activities you do as a group?
22. Is there a sense of community in the workplace? And does the company contribute to the broader community in any way?
23. If you were starting this job now, what advice would you give yourself?
24. Do you have any final questions for me, or is there anything else that would be helpful for you at this stage?
25. What are the next steps in this process, and when can I expect to hear from you?
These questions can of course be customized based on the job you’re applying for, the company’s focus, and what you want or need to know. But now you’re armed with a solid list to help you make sure you know what you’re signing up for in your potential new job—and that your potential new employers know what they’re signing up for with you, too.