The Best Questions to Ask in A Job Interview
Job interviews can often feel like being on the hot seat. No matter how much you may have prepared for the interview or how many interviews you have had in the past, interviewers can often fire off questions that trip you up and make you feel as though you’ve forgotten your previous achievements. However, the purpose of a job interview is not just for the company to determine if you are a good fit. It is also the time for you to decide whether you like the company.
For this reason, it is important to ask thoughtful questions during each stage of the interview process so that you can determine whether an organization and role will meet your needs. Additionally, job interviewers value candidates who ask insightful questions because it lets them know that you are interested, selective and curious.
How to determine if a company is right for you during a job interview
The labor market is changing. While just a few years ago all of the power laid in the employer's hands, the Great Resignation and the fierce competition for great candidates have given way to a hiring process where organizations now have to sell themselves to the candidates. Job seekers are no longer settling for a good salary, but are also looking for a company culture that is supportive and balances well with their personal life.
During the job interview process, look out for signs that the company might not be a good fit for you. Did the team members you spoke with seem like people you would be comfortable spending 40+ hours per week with? Are you excited by the company’s product, mission and values? Does the role sound too demanding or, in contrast, not challenging enough? Was there any mention of the benefits, perks and compensation that you are looking for?
If you aren’t able to get most of your questions and concerns answered during the first part of the interview, the second part is your chance to turn the tables on them. Here are some of the best questions to ask a job interviewer to learn more about the position and organization you could potentially be joining.
Ten insightful questions to ask in a job interview
1. What does a typical day or week look like in this role?
Sometimes the generalized list of responsibilities does not paint a clear enough picture of what it would really look like to have the job. Asking for a detailed description of an average day or week of an employee in this position will give you a better idea of what sort of projects you would be working on, who you would work most closely with and highlight all of the ad hoc duties you would have to handle. This breakdown will better outline the full scope of responsibilities the position includes and help you determine if it is the right next move for your career.
2. What are the expectations of the person in this position?
Although people often think the two go hand-in-hand, the responsibilities of a position are one thing, and the expectations of a new hire are another. To fully understand the need for this role and the contributions this person would make to the organization, it is important to understand both what the company and team would expect from an incoming employee and what success looks like in this role. Ask the team what the most important things they would like to see this person accomplish in the first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job. Then, determine if those needs seem realistic.
3. Will there be a formal onboarding and training process?
Studies show that nearly one-third of all employees quit their jobs within the first six months. One of the most common reasons for this is that they were not properly set up for success in the role when they joined. Therefore, it is important that you know the organization has a structured onboarding plan in place because although you may have the knowledge to take on the role, you have no idea how things are done at the company. Get clear on what tools you would need to learn, how long training will last and in which areas you may need some extra support.
4. What might be the biggest challenges of the role?
Just like we often highlight our biggest achievements in our previous roles and leave out where we fell short, job interviewers tend to not share the less enticing aspects of the job. Although it is sometimes good to be challenged, everyone has their limits and it is helpful to learn about any red flags early on. For example, if the interviewer mentions that the hardest part of the role is a difficult manager, the heavy workload or that the previous employees in the role have quit, it may not be a job you want.
5. What are the opportunities for growth and development?
As a professional, and as a human, you should always be seeking new ways to grow and gain further expertise in the areas that interest you. So it is common for job seekers to wonder what prospects for career advancement there might be for them to avoid starting a new role just to stay stagnant.
Ask your interviewer about the person in the position directly above you. Is there room for them to grow? Is their position the only path available to you? Find out if it's common to get promotions and raises and what it takes for an employee to be rewarded at the company. Before you choose any job it is important to learn what climbing the corporate ladder might look like at the organization and specifically, within your role.
6. How would you describe the culture here?
While a compelling salary might be what attracts people to a job, the culture of the company is usually what makes them stay. For many people, it is hard to know what the culture of an organization is like until you start so it is crucial to get as much information as you can from the people that work there ahead of time.
Everyone has a different idea of what a good culture looks like but some things that you might want to ask about are work-life balance, team outings and social events, diversity and inclusion, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and the dynamic of the team you’d be joining. This would also be a good time to learn more about their hybrid or remote work policies.
7. Can you share the benefits, perks and compensation range for this role?
If the job description or recruiter did not share what the compensation package would be for this role, then it is important to ask before you get too far into the process. Otherwise, you might find that the compensation and benefits don’t meet your basic requirements after already getting excited about the opportunity. A compelling package might look different for everyone. Perhaps you are willing to take a lower salary for a position that gives you the flexibility to work from home. Or maybe you care more about equity and 401k matching so that you are taken care of in the long run. Whatever matters to you, be sure to ask.
8. What led you to the company and what is your favorite thing about working here?
Although this portion of the interview is great for finding out more about the company and role, it's also a great time to learn more about your team. Asking about your potential team members' previous experience is a good way to see what backgrounds have been successful at the organization and identify anything that you may have in common.
In addition, ask the interviewer what they love about their job and the company. This will give you further insight into what it's really like to work there and will make the conversation more personal.
9. What’s next for the company?
Before you join any company it’s good to get an idea of what you’re getting into. While the open position could hint that the company is in exciting stages of growth, it could also mean there have been recent structural changes.
To get a better understanding of what the future holds for the business. ask questions about the company’s goals, upcoming or recent funding, plans for expansion and where the interviewer sees the company going in the next few years.
10. How is the team structured?
Learning how the team you would be working on is structured is useful for better understanding who you will be reporting to, who you will be working closely with and where there is room for growth in your career.
Another way to learn about a company’s structure is by signing up for The Org and viewing its company page. There, you will find its public org chart which shows all of the employees, departments and teams that currently make up the organization. You can learn more about the employees by scrolling through their individual profiles; get a better sense of the culture through their pictures, values and articles; note how diverse the current team is; and easily visualize where you would fit into the organization.
If you’re ready to “meet the team” before you get to the panel stage of the interview process, sign up for The Org below.
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