Questions you should ask in a job interview

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A job interview is not only a chance to convince the employer that you are perfect for the job, it is also an opportunity to find out if the company is perfect for you. This is why it’s important to be prepared when the interviewer asks: “Do you have questions for me?” It’s your cue to know more about the job, the team you’ll be working with and the company’s culture.

Preparing one to two questions is often enough. However, if there is time and the interviewer is receptive, grab the chance to ask more. The trick is to know the right questions to ask. Aim for questions that will help you understand your role and emphasize your professionalism. In this way, aside from knowing more about the job and the company, you’ll increase your chances of getting hired as well. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Is there anything that concerns you about my qualifications or skills for this role?

    It’s a great question to ask especially towards the end of the interview. It accomplishes three things: First, the interviewer’s answer will give you an idea of your chances of getting the job. Second, it will allow you to address any objections they might have. And third, it will give you useful feedback that will help you in your career.

    If the interviewer responds with, “No, I think you’ll be a good fit for the role” then you know that you’re in the running. However, if they respond with something like “We usually require X years of experience in (particular field/aspect of the job) for this position and you only have X years” or if they express concern over an answer you made earlier, then you have work to do. Take it as an opportunity to provide clarification or highlight a different skill/experience that can make up for what you lack.

  2. What changes did your company adopt in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

    The answer to this question will show you the company’s values and strengths. You’ll be able to find out if the leadership responds quickly when faced with a crisis and whether they have ample resources. Their pandemic response can also show you whether they care about their employees more than the bottom line. Needless to say, it is a red flag if the company does not have a pandemic policy. Think twice if you are given an offer.

  3. If hired, what are my top three deliverables in the first month?

    Asking this question shows that you are goal-oriented. Ask this especially if the department head/boss of the section you’ll belong to is present during the interview. The answer will give you a good picture of the kind of workload you’ll have if hired as well as company’s priorities. It will also give you a chance to plan and strategize before you even take on the role.

  4. What are the company’s current goals and how does this team work to support hitting those goals?

    Frame this question with information you learned about the company in your research. For example, you can say “I read from your 2019 annual report that the company’s goal is to expand its markets to X % by 2030. What specific goals are you focusing on to reach this and how does this team work (the team you’re aiming to be a part of) to support these goals?” The answer will give you a better appreciation of the company’s direction as well as your position’s importance in the scheme of things.

  5. What do you like about working here?

    This is a good question to ask especially if you have built considerable rapport with the interviewer. You may preface this with “I hope I’m not being too personal, but…” This is a good question to ask because it will give you a broad sense of the company’s culture. It’s a good sign if the interviewer is enthusiastic and has a lot to share. Proceed with caution if they find it hard to answer the question.

Questions not to ask

Avoid asking questions like the following:

  • What will the salary be? What are the benefits? Are there perks and discounts?
  • Do you observe flexi-time?
  • How many days am I allowed for vacation?
  • How quickly can I get promoted?
  • Will I get an office or a cubicle?

These questions will put you in a bad light because you are saying that salary and perks are your foremost concerns, not the job itself. They’re also presumptuous – you’re already assuming that you’re the top candidate. The stage where salary negotiations happen is usually towards the end of the hiring process when the job is offered to you. At this point you’ll be free to discuss salary and other benefits.
Sources: 51 great questions to ask in an interview, The Muse; The best questions to ask at the end of every job interview, Gillet, Cain and Hadden, Business Insider; and 10 interview questions you should never ask (and 5 you always should), Kristine Solomon of LearnVest, the muse. Accessed July 8, 2020.

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