Questions to Ask During Your Job Interview

What to ask the interviewer to know how stable the company is, and more

Business people shaking hands in interview
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During the interview, you will likely be asked if you have any questions. Interviewers expect you to have questions about the company, the group you would be working in, and the job that you are interviewing for. Here are some sample questions to ask during an interview. Which questions you actually ask depends on the tone of the interview as well as the level of the person interviewing you.

The questions are split into groups based on who they would be aimed at: hiring manager, peer, and HR/Recruiter. You don’t want to bombard the interviewer with dozens of questions, but you do want to have an accurate picture of the position, as well as the company and group culture(s). At the end of each interview, ask if it is okay to follow up with them later if you have further questions. This is an excellent time to ask for a business card, which will also allow you to send each interviewer a thank you letter after the interviews are over.

Interview Questions to Ask the Hiring Manager

  • How would you describe your company culture?
  • What is your vision for your department over the next two to three years?
  • What major challenges are you currently facing as a manager?
  • What makes your company better than your competitors?
  • What are the areas where your competitors are better than your company?
  • Who do you consider your customers to be?
  • What can you tell me about the other people in the organization I would be working with? Can I meet with any of them before accepting an offer of employment?
  • What are the most important skills and attributes you are looking for in filling this position?
  • What is your management style?
  • What is your preferred method of communicating with your team?
  • What is the organization’s plan for the next five years, and how does this department or division fit in?
  • What specific skills from the person you hire would make your life easier?
  • What are some of the skills and abilities you see as necessary for someone to succeed in this job?
  • What do you see as the most important opportunities for improvement in the area I hope to join?
  • What are the attributes of the job that you’d like to see improved?
  • What is your company’s policy on attending seminars, workshops, and other training opportunities?
  • What attracted you to working for this organization?
  • What have you liked most about working here?
  • How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom?
  • (If this a new position) What made you decide to open up this position?
  • How would you describe your own management style?
  • What are the most important traits you look for in a subordinate?
  • How do you like your subordinates to communicate with you?
  • What personal qualities or characteristics do you most value?
  • How would you describe the experience of working here?
  • What are a couple of misconceptions people have about the company?
  • What happened to the person who previously held this job?
  • From all I can see, I’d really like to work here, and I believe I can be a great addition to your team. What’s the next step in the selection process?
  • Before I leave, is there anything else you need to know concerning my ability to do this job?

Interview Questions to Ask Peer Level Interviewers

  • Why did you decide to join this company?
  • Were your expectations met?
  • Do you enjoy working here? (yes) Why? (no) Why not?
  • Have you ever considered leaving the organization? (If yes) Why did you decide to stay?
  • Tell me about a typical working day for you.
  • How many hours a day do you typically work?
  • Do you work weekends? How many and how many hours typically?
  • How much travel is involved in your job?
  • How do you like working for your manager? What do you like most about working for him/her? What do you like least?
  • What do you consider to be your company's greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Does the company support you in training? How specifically?
  • What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started in your position?

Interview Questions to Ask HR or the Recruiter:

  • What can you tell me about the position?
  • What can you tell me about the department?
  • How would you describe your company culture?
  • How much does the position pay? What is the compensation range for this position?
  • What benefits are provided to your employees?
  • Do you have a tuition reimbursement plan?
  • Do you have an employee stock purchase plan? Do you participate?
  • What is the typical career path for this position?
  • What type of internal and external training do you provide?
  • How are performance appraisals conducted within your organization?
  • I know that for the position for which I am interviewing, the company decided to recruit from outside the organization. How do you decide between recruiting from within and going outside?
  • Why do you enjoy working for this company?
  • How would you describe the work environment here?
  • What do you consider to be the organization’s strengths and weaknesses?
  • How soon are you looking to fill this position?
  • What is the next step for consideration?
  • When will you be making a decision on this position?
  • How do my skills compare with those of the other candidates you have interviewed?
  • Before I leave, is there anything else you need to know concerning my ability to do this job? 

Interview Questions to Ask Start Up Companies

Start up companies are a "different breed." They can be riskier than more established companies, but they can also have greater rewards, in terms of financial upside as well as the ability to make an impact on a product and a company. Usually, start ups are a closely knit group. Employees are usually asked to wear many hats and work very long hours.

Questions you may want to ask start up companies focus on the financial stability of the companies as well as the quality of life the employees enjoy. Here are some examples of questions to ask during the interview.

  • How much financial backing do they have? Who is their backing through? What "round" of funding are they on? Certain VC companies are known to be more "helpful" than others. Angel Investors, too, have been known to step in and help out a company in trouble. What kinds of investors does the company have? I highly recommend researching start ups and VC companies on VentureLoop.
  • What is their current financial status? Are they showing a profit yet? If not, how big are their losses? How, and when, do they expect to become profitable?
  • What is the top management's experience and track record? Have they successfully lead a start up before? What was the outcome of their previous ventures? Did the company go belly-up? Were they purchased by Microsoft?
  • Who are their competitors, if any? How well are the competitors doing? What edge, if any, do they have over their competitors? You need to try to determine what makes this company different from all the other start ups out there.
  • How many hours do employees typically work per day? Per week? Are employees expected to work most weekends?
  • What benefits do they offer? In order to compare apples to apples, you will need to get detailed information on such things as paid time off, medical benefits (be sure to ask about premium contributions, and how much you are expected to pay for your benefits each month). You will also need to know if there is any kind of retirement plan in place, and if the company matches any contributions. If you are unemployed, these questions may be of less importance than if you are considering leaving a more stable environment for that of a start up company.
  • You will want a detailed discussion of the company's stock plan if you will be basing a large part of your decision on the potential up-swing of the stock after an IPO. Guy Kawasaki has some excellent stock-related questions to ask once you have received an offer from a start up.