As an interview draws to a close, it's likely that the interviewer will ask, "Do you have any questions for me?"
When you hear this query, you may groan inside, since it can feel like you've covered absolutely everything during the course of the interview. It's always better to respond with a question than to politely demur. Otherwise, you could leave interviewers with the impression that you're not engaged with the conversation, or that you're not interested enough in the position to jump at the opportunity to learn more.
Below are some suggestions for how to respond to this question strategically.
Prepare for the Question
Since this question is common at the end of every type of job interview, it makes sense to plan for it in advance and be prepared. Develop a list of questions that you want answered and keep in mind that your questions may change slightly based upon your interviewer.
If you're meeting with someone from human resources, for instance, your questions might focus on the interviewing process or on the overall organization of the company. If you're meeting with the person who will be your manager, you might ask specific questions about your intended role or about the hiring process for new employees.
Prepare several questions, as many of them may be addressed during the interview.
What Should You Ask?
Your questions should make it clear that you were engaged during the interview and have quickly gained a sense of the company's goals and priorities. You can reflect back to earlier moments in the interview or build off of news within the company or its market.
Aim to always ask open-ended questions, and not questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no."
Questions to Ask the Interviewer
Below are a few broad categories of questions that are appropriate to ask.
Questions About the Role
This is a great opportunity to learn more about what you'll do if it hasn't already been thoroughly covered in the earlier part of the interview. Questions could include:
- Can you share more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this role? How would you describe the pace of a typical day?
- If I were hired for this role, what would you want me to achieve in my first two months?
- What mechanisms are in place for performance reviews and when would I receive my first formal evaluation?
- In your opinion, what is the single most important indicator of success in this role?
Questions About the Company or Interviewer
This is a good opportunity to get a sense of company culture and how the company is performing.
- How would you describe the management style of the organization?
- What's something that makes you happy about coming into work each day?
- How long have you been at the company?
- Can you talk about company culture?
- What is the greatest challenge facing the company?
- What are the company's goals for the upcoming year?
Questions About You
You can use this moment to get a sense of how the interviewer perceived you during the interview, and if they think you're a good candidate. With these questions, you might want to preface by expressing your excitement for the role, and then (based on the feedback you get) address the issue on the spot. You can ask:
- What are your concerns about my candidacy?
- Are there any qualifications that you think I'm missing?
Consider following up on the answers to these questions with a thank-you letter.
What Not to Ask
It may be an open-ended question, but that doesn't mean any response goes. Stay away from questions on the following topics:
Off-work activities: It's fine to ask questions about the culture at the job, but stay away from queries that are focused on non-work activities, like happy hour outings, lunch, or vacation time. These types of questions will make you seem uninvested in actually doing the work, which isn't the right impression to leave. Similarly, don't ask how many hours you'll need to work each day.
The interviewer's personal life or office gossip: Give interviewers the same courtesy you'd want them to give to you by not asking about their family, living situation, or gossip about people you may both know.
Things you could answer yourself: If your question could be easily answered with a quick online search or by glancing at the company website, skip it. Time-wasting questions won't be appreciated. Interviewers expect that you will have done research on the company and familiarized yourself with the basics.
Salary and benefits: If it's a first-round interview, getting specific about salary and benefits can make you seem uninterested in the work and the company, and focused only on yourself. If your interviewer does ask about salary, here are some tips on how you can respond.
Very complicated or multi-part questions: Asking multi-part questions can overwhelm interviewers. Ask just one question at a time. You can always follow up. Aim to make the moment feel conversational.
Don't ask too many questions; while you want to be prepared to ask one or two, take the hint and wind down your questions when interviewers begin to shuffle paper, glance at their watch, or wake up sleeping computers.
- What are some of the latest developments at your company?
- How much can I expect to earn during the first year?
- What do employees do for fun with colleagues after work?
- Do you have children? Is this a child-friendly employer?
- What are five strategic goals for the organization during the next five years?
Review more information about questions you shouldn't ask during an interview, and information on why to avoid asking them.