Nearly every interview ends with the same exact question. And yet many candidates make the same mistake when answering it.
So, what is this frequently mis-answered query?
“Do you have any questions for me?”
This may be the most important interview question you answer. And you’d be surprised at the number of people who reply, “Nope!”
That’s a huge missed opportunity. You should never reply “no” to this question. It’s your last chance to make a good impression, and it’s the interviewer’s way of gauging your level of interest in the job. If you don’t have any good questions, it shows a lack of curiosity and engagement. After all, there’s no way you could know everything there is to know about a new company and job opportunity after only one interview.
On the other hand, if you do have a few well-thought-out queries, you end the interview looking great. It lets them know you’ve done your research. Additionally, it gives the interviewer a chance to get to know you because the types of questions you ask can reveal a lot.
So, don’t disappoint them. It’s time to get asking.
What’s a good interview question?
A good interview question does two things:
- It gives you a final opportunity to prove that you’re a good fit by showing the interviewer that you prepared for the interview and put thought into your question.
- It lets you find out if this role is the right fit for you. A good question helps you develop a better understanding of whether you’ll be happy in this role, at this company.
Don’t ask questions that anyone could answer with a quick glance at the company website. Instead, do some research and be a little strategic as you think about the business.
Even more important? Never ask a question that has already been answered during the interview. Pay attention!
Sample good interview questions
To get you started, here are some good interview questions to ask. We’ve divided them into questions about the company and questions about the role itself. You should be prepared to ask about both, but you can decide where to focus your questions based on the interview.
1. Ask about the role
First of all, don’t ask anything that was already addressed in the original job description or any introductory phone calls. That being said, the job description can help you come up with more detailed questions for the interview.
Here are a few sample questions in this category. These questions are appropriate for a hiring manager, recruiter, manager, or team member(s).
- What would I be expected to accomplish in the first six months? The first year?
- What’s the biggest opportunity/challenge I’d face in this role?
- Can you tell me what a typical day looks like?
- How will this role best serve [your specific function]?
- Can you describe your/the supervisor’s leadership style?
- Based on the current team, what skills or traits are most important in order to excel in this role?
- Who would I be interacting with regularly?
2. Ask about the company
Don’t just assume you know the company. Read about its history. Check out its financials. Are there any press releases related to leadership changes, new products, litigation, or community service? Read those, too. The most you know, the more educated questions you can ask.
Here are a few sample questions to get you started. Remember that there will be both positives and negatives with any company. Your job is to determine if the positives outweigh the negatives.
- What will the onboarding and training process look like?
- What sort of development and/or learning opportunities does the company offer?
- Where does [company] see itself five years from now?
- What are some of the department’s long-term goals?
- Tell me about the biggest challenges facing the company/department.
- What’s your favorite part about working here?
What interview questions should you not ask?
There are hundreds of questions you can ask an interviewer. But there are also some interview questions you should avoid asking. Here are some areas to avoid:
- The salary
Going into an interview, it’s a great idea to research salary ranges in your location. You want to have an idea of the offer prior to going through the full interview process. But you should never be the one to bring it up. Even if salary is your primary concern, you never want the company to know that! Lead with your interest and experience; you can discuss (and negotiate) salary later.
Again, while an interview is an opportunity to determine whether you want the job, the focus should be on how you can meet the company’s needs—not vice versa. After you get an offer, the recruiter should share any benefit details with you. If not, it is perfectly acceptable to ask any benefits-related questions at that time.
- Time off
So many candidates come armed with a list of dates they will need to request off. All these questions do is make the interviewer question your interest and commitment. It’s not worth mentioning any time off until after they have extended an offer and want to discuss your availability to start.
While you want to come across as ambitious, don’t focus on promotions. Find other ways to understand whether they grow talent internally. Ask about training programs, mentorships, and development opportunities. No one wants to hire someone who’s only using the job as a stepping stone.
Preparing the right questions to ask
As you prepare for your interview, here are some tips to help you identify strong questions to ask. First, review the job description, checking for information that may be missing. The interviewer will be impressed to see you really digging in. Then, research the company. Start by learning as much as you can from the website, social media, and public information. Next, review LinkedIn profiles for your interviewers. Don’t know who’s going to interview you? Just ask. The more you know about each interviewer, the better questions you can ask. Plus, it shows that you took the time to do your research.
For each interviewer, write out at least 10 questions. You’ll never get through all your questions, but you want to have a buffer. In fact, it’s likely that many of your prepared questions will be answered before you even get to ask them. If you meet with someone more than once, ask them more, new questions.
And here’s a pro tip: It’s fine to write down your questions. You can take a nice, professional notebook into the interview with you. At the end of the interview, feel free to reference your list and take notes. Just be sure to look up, smile, and make eye contact as well.
Finally, don’t ask each interviewer the same questions. They’re going to compare notes later on, and you don’t want to be the candidate that asked every person the same question. To be clear, it’s fine to ask questions that will yield a different response from each person (like “Why did you join the company?”). But don’t rattle off the same handful of questions to each person.
Ultimately, ask good questions. Demonstrate you’re interested and engaged. Show you did your research. And again: never say you don’t have any questions!