At some point during your job interview, the interviewer is going to ask “Do you have any questions for me?” And you better have some.

Not asking anything is an immediate sign that you’re not particularly interested in the role or company, and will usually destroy any chance you had of landing the position. But you have to ask the right questions. Don’t make it about you and what you can get out of the role. Make it about learning more about the position and organization, and about learning how you can fit and contribute. Nervous and unsure what to do? Not to worry. Here are 11 smart questions to ask your interviewer.

First, do not ask:

  • How much vacation time do I get? (You’ll find this out if there is a job offer.)
  • How much does it pay? (Same as above.)
  • What is it that this company does anyway?
  • Can I nap on the job?
  • How much notice do you need if I want to quit? (This actually happened at Workopolis.)

You get the idea.

So, what should you ask instead? Start with:

What market/audience are you trying to reach?

This is the best question you can ask because every company has one or more target nuts they can’t quite crack. If you can offer help here, you’re probably as good as in.

What can you tell me about the company culture?

This shows that you are interested in the work environment and want to know how you would fit in. It will also give you a good sense of whether or not you’ll actually enjoy working at the company.

How is success evaluated in this role?

Give the interviewer a chance to talk about how your performance will be evaluated. This will give you an idea of how the company works and what they value in an employee. Also, this shows that you’re already thinking about your potential contribution, and can give you a chance to show that you have demonstrated the same form of success in the past: “That’s perfect because in my previous role I had the highest number of…”

Who would I be working with?

Show an interest in the people with whom you might be spending 40 hours a week. It again also gives you a chance to better understand what to expect on a day-to-day basis.

What are some of the challenges someone in this position might face?

Again this allows the interviewer to talk about the specifics of the role, but it also gives you another opportunity to sell yourself, as in, “Oh, that’s funny because in my last role I faced a similar challenge. Here’s how I overcame it…”

What would you like to see the person in this role accomplish in their first six months to year on the job?

This kind of question shows that you’re thinking ahead and want to know what is expected. It will also help you gauge whether or not the company’s goals and expectations are realistic and attainable.

Is there room for advancement?

Some say this question could backfire, as an employer doesn’t want to think you see the job as just a stepping stone. The flip side to this is that no one can expect you to stay in any one role forever. This question demonstrates ambition and that you are thinking of a potential future with that company (rather than bailing as soon as another job opens up).

How is [insert current industry trend or challenge] impacting your organization?

The most common complaint from hiring managers is that candidates show up for interviews knowing nothing about the company or industry. Show that you’ve really done your research. If you’ve chosen to highlight a challenge (say you’re applying for a job marketing Diet Coke, you might discuss the recent public backlash against aspartame), follow with either asking what the company is doing about it, or, even better, presenting your own idea for a solution.

What do you like about working here?

Give the interviewer a chance to talk about themselves and the company. If they have a hard time coming up with something, you might consider that a red flag.

Is there anything we haven’t covered or that I can do that would help you with your decision?

If you want the job, make sure you offer the opportunity to fill any gaps or clarify anything that’s not clear.

What are the next steps?

It would just be weird to leave without asking what’s next. If you’re interested in the job, you’re going to want to know what to expect. Do you have to do more interviews? Are they considering other candidates? How long will the wait be? Ask. If you don’t, they’ll wonder why you didn’t.

Good luck!


See also:


The 5 most common interview questions (and how to answer them like a boss)

Interview tips from the Toronto Academy of Acting

How to optimize your resume for the 10-second skim

Should you put a picture on your resume?



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