Top questions to ask in an interview

If you have an upcoming interview, you’re likely prepping by answering practice interview questions and researching the job and company. You also might be wondering what questions to ask in an interview. It’s general knowledge that every job candidate should have at least a few questions to ask an interviewer in their back pocket.

In this post, we cover the types of questions that are a plus to ask, broken down by the purpose for each.

Questions to ask in an interview

It’s common to hear that you should have at least three solid questions to ask during an interview. However, there is no hard and fast rule that says you can only ask three questions. In fact, if the interview is going well with good dialogue back and forth between you and the interviewer, it tends to be natural to ask more than three questions.

When you ask questions, they should be based on what the topic of conversation is at the moment and whether the interviewer has already answered the questions you have. As outlined below, some questions are a must to ask, while others will help show your interest in the company, the position, and your level of initiative.

The must asks

The following questions to ask an interviewer are ones that will help you gain clarity on the ins and outs of the role. You can then move on to asking more general questions that might require a lengthier response.

  • What’s the next step in the hiring process?
  • How long does the hiring process typically take?
  • How would you describe the day-to-day routine of this position?
  • What would I be expected to accomplish during the first month on the job? The first year?
  • What is required to succeed in this role?
  • Is overtime common for this position?
  • What does the company’s onboarding process look like for new hires?
  • What are the typical hours expected of the team?
  • What are the optimal hours per week for me to meet the expectations of this job?
  • How would you describe the toughest periods of the year for the company? For this position?
  • Aside from what is in the job description, what can you tell me about this job?
  • How do you see the roles and responsibilities for this position shifting in the future, if at all?
  • How many people are in the team and department that this position belongs to? How many people will I work with on a regular basis?

Questions that highlight your interest in the organization

Interviewers want to see that you are truly interested in working for the organization. The following questions will show the interviewer that you desire to have a deeper understanding of the company and how the position fits within the company.

  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • How long does the average employee remain in a position before moving on to another one?
  • How do the leadership team and senior management interact with this position?
  • Is there a career development plan for this position?
  • What is the company’s projected growth?
  • What initiatives is the company considering soon? Long term?
  • How would you describe the general management style of the organization?
  • How does this job fit in with the overall strategy of the company?
  • What is your policy on performance improvement plans to support employee growth and improvement?
  • What does the company’s performance appraisal process look like?
  • Is there anything you can tell me about the organization that is not commonly known?
  • How much time is dedicated to new initiatives, projects, products, or services?
  • What are some of the challenges people in this position face when working here? Opportunities?
  • How does the organization view and implement training and development?
  • What community initiatives is the company involved with?

Question to discern about company growth and opportunities

As a prospective employee, it’s fair that you’d want to know if the company will be around for a while. These questions will help you gain insights into company growth and opportunities and show the interviewer some areas that might be important to you, as well.

  • How are employees rewarded for doing well on the job?
  • What type of on-the-job training is offered?
  • What is the company’s projected growth over the next 5 to 10 years?
  • What are the company’s goals and objectives for the coming year? The next 5 years?
  • What has been your hire rate in recent months?
  • Do you see this role expanding at any point in the future?
  • What does professional development look like here?
  • How transparent is leadership about operations and plans for the future? What about regarding profits and revenue?

Questions about current challenges and the competition

Every company has its challenges and concerns about the competition. These questions showcase that you appreciate that while also providing you with insights into anything that might be concerning to you in accepting the position if it’s offered to you.

Can you share why the last incumbent left this position?

What are the current areas of focus for the organization? For this department?

What are some pain points in this job that the new incumbent will need to remedy?

In your opinion, what’s the biggest challenge the company has faced recently? This department?

Which competitors are you most concerned about currently?

Questions to showcase your qualities

With these questions, you not only show your interest and gain insights into the company and position—you also can showcase qualities that will help you be successful on the job, such as your ability to take initiative and to be self-aware. If you play your cards right, asking such questions can impress the interviewer.

  • Are there any special initiatives I would work on in the near future?
  • If you were to look back a year from now, what would you consider to be the top achievements or accomplishments of someone in this role?
  • What is the approach to feedback for employees?
  • How are success and performance measured for this position?
  • What tools and resources do you utilize for collaboration?
  • What traits and qualities do people that are the most successful here possess?
  • Is there anything more I could share about myself that would support you in making your decision?

Things NOT to ask during an interview

As you can see from the above lists of questions to ask in an interview, there are plenty of items you can inquire about that can leave a positive vibe between you and the interviewer. At the same time, there are some questions you should generally avoid if you want that positive vibe to continue, such as:

  • Did I get the job?
  • How well did I do?
  • How often does the company issue raises?
  • How often does the company issue bonuses?
  • When can I expect to hear something about the job?
  • What is the timeline for making an offer for this position?
  • When can I request vacation time after starting?
  • What are the company’s mission and vision?
  • What does the company offer or do?
  • What are the perks and benefits your organization offers?

Now you have a lengthy list of questions to ask in an interview, so you can focus on prepping for other aspects of the interview, such as your responses to potential questions, your wardrobe, and so on. You can use the above questions as a starting point—use them as is or allow them to generate ideas to add to the list. Good luck!