This is an exciting moment. You’ve been invited to interview for a job and take your career one step further. It’s normal to have some nerves when there’s a big opportunity on the line and a stranger is peppering you with questions. But now, you’ve done the hard work of sharing the ins and outs of your experience and enthusiasm for the opportunity—and it’s your turn to, well, turn the tables.
Here are 30 questions to ask your interviewer when you’re deciding if a job opportunity is the right one for you. Remember: A job interview isn’t just for a company to see if they like you—it’s for you to see if you like the company. Preparing a few questions to ask your interviewer will help you stand out from the pack and avoid opportunities that aren’t a good fit.
Questions to Ask Your Interviewer About the Role
First things first! It’s time to get the nitty-gritty details about why this job opportunity exists in the first place.
1. Why are you hiring for this position?
Let’s start at the beginning. Why does this job opportunity exist? By asking your interviewer why they’re hiring for the position, you can learn if this is a brand-new role, if someone quit, or if there have been any other changes in the organization. Each of these scenarios will give you insight into what’s happening behind the scenes.
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If it’s a new role, you can prepare yourself for some learning curves as the team adapts to a new structure, but don’t stress—that means they need someone like you to fill the position. If someone left, what was the reason? Did they move away, experience a change in their family life, or start their own business? And if there’s high company turnover, that could be a clue into some workplace culture that might not be a good fit for what you’re looking for.
2. When are you looking to fill the role?
Depending on your availability and need for a new job, it’s helpful to leave your interview with an idea of a starting date for two reasons. First, you can plan to start a new job around any upcoming personal events, like travel, taking time off, or completing projects at your current workplace. Second, you can decide how much effort you’ll need to put into looking for other job opportunities if this position doesn’t line up with your schedule or needs. It’s better to know up front what the waiting period might look like so you can either move forward or move on.
3. What does a typical week look like for this position?
For creatures of habit, a role filled with unpredictable responsibilities, moving deadlines, and even location changes can lead to panic mode. But if you’re a mover and shaker and can’t stand sitting still, a position that measures success by how many hours you concentrate at your desk might make you restless.
Asking your interviewer about the general flow of the workweek will give you a good picture of the consistency, variety, speed and social expectations of the position. These are all important elements to consider when trying to find your perfect job fit.
4. How will my performance and success be measured?
One of the early questions you’ll want to ask your interviewer is how the success of your performance will be measured. This will tell you a lot about how the company values accountability and achieving results for the role. In larger companies, it’s normal for the HR department and your leader to create a review schedule with Key Results Areas (KRAs) that will be measured throughout the year. Smaller organizations might have more informal check-ins along with one annual performance review.
Here’s a big red flag: If there are no success measurements, or the job responsibilities aren’t clearly defined, that leaves you in the position of running after a moving target. There will be no way to track if you’re doing well or need improvement—and no accountability for your employer to stay consistent in their expectations of what you can and should accomplish.
5. What are my upcoming goals coming into the role?
If you’ve asked your interviewer about KRAs for the position and they provided you a list of clearly defined goals, that’s great news! Now you can ask your interviewer about onboarding goals to start the job on the right foot. What will you be expected to learn or produce within your first 30 days? What about in the first three months?
If there’s an expectation for you to hit the ground running and strive for a major goal within the first few weeks, it’s better to know up front so you can come in swinging. On the other hand, if your goal is to take 90 days to learn the company’s culture, familiarize yourself with their message and mission, and take things slowly, it’s best to prepare your mind for a more gradual buildup.
6. What are some big goals for the company this year?
Even if you won’t be tackling these big goals directly, asking your interviewer questions about the company’s major projects will show your interest in their mission. Want to leave a good first impression? Taking a genuine interest in how an employer is positioning the team to win is the way to do it.
Asking your interviewer about big projects or major business milestones is also a great way to understand how the organization adapts to the changing times. Are you interested in working for a fast-paced and future-focused company? Or a more traditional and predictable employer? You’ll want to clarify early on how the company interacts with the marketplace and adapts to changes in society, culture and technology.
7. Does this job require a more independent or collaborative work style?
If you work best in a quiet and focused environment, you’ll want to get a good idea of the social expectations in this new role. Will you need to jump up every few minutes to collaborate with your coworkers or lead discussions? That might not be the most helpful environment for researchers who need deep concentration to produce their best work.
On the other hand, if you’re a social butterfly and thrive when you bounce ideas off others, a role based on working remotely might not be the best fit. Asking your interviewer if the job is more collaborative or independent will give you a good sense of the energy and interaction levels of the position.
8. What experience does someone need to be successful in this role?
Here’s the deal: Unless an employer is beyond desperate for help, the hiring manager has already decided your previous experience is a good enough match to call you in for an interview. But it’s always helpful to get more information about what skills and talent would bring extra value to the team.
Asking your interviewer what abilities and experience they’re looking for will give you an opportunity to sharpen your skills or brush up on best practices.
On the other hand, you might be overqualified and better suited for a more advanced position. Either way, understanding the desired experience in more detail will give you a frame of reference to move forward successfully.
9. What are some common challenges for someone in this position?
No job or company is perfect, but you can avoid some career missteps when you learn more about the challenges of the role you’re interviewing for. Some challenges, like managing lots of moving pieces on a project, can be mastered and improved over time.
Other challenges, like surviving a toxic workplace culture, have almost zero chance of improving despite your best efforts—and you’ll probably want to avoid situations like that. Asking your interviewer about challenges in the position will help you understand if your skill set and workplace wish list are in alignment with this opportunity.
10. What are the opportunities for growth in this role?
Here’s a word of wisdom: If you get the job, you’ll want to master what you’re hired for before trying to advance to the next position. Hunger to learn and advance at work are great qualities, but you don’t want to skip over the growth happening right now that will get you to that next level.
Now, hopefully they’ll respond with some clear direction or a few options for promotion tracks. If they don’t share a logical next step for the position, or if the company prefers to hire externally instead of promoting from within, you’ll have a better idea of where you might move up (or not) in the future.
Questions to Ask Your Interviewer About Team Culture
Is the team culture built on collaboration or competition? There’s no right or wrong answer, but there will be a right or wrong fit for you. Here are a few questions to help you decide if you can thrive in this company’s culture.
11. What kind of person wins here?
Company culture varies so much depending on the industry, location and leadership of the organization. For example, the type of person who would be successful in a Silicon Valley start-up might not experience the same fulfillment in a more traditional corporation based out of St. Louis, Missouri. That’s why it’s important to ask your interviewer what kind of person wins (or makes a good culture fit) at the organization.
Are they looking for someone who’s humble, hungry and people-smart? Or would a more hard-charging and outspoken personality be a better fit to achieve the results they’re looking for? Some skills that you need to be a winning team member can be learned and developed over time—but other traits and abilities just won’t be a good fit for how you’re wired, no matter how hard you try.
12. How would you describe the company culture?
Speaking of company culture . . . To get a better understanding of the environment and personality of the business, go ahead and ask your interviewer directly what adjectives they would use to describe the culture. (Some examples include energetic, intense, disorganized, intentional, supportive or cutthroat.)
If the company has done a good job of creating a people-focused and mission-driven culture, you’ll know. Listen for other buzzwords like core values, collaboration, celebration, stress, leadership and other phrases that describe a workplace. (Even better if you can ask people who currently work at the company, because they’ll have the inside scoop on what day-to-day life is like.)
13. How is conflict handled here?
Oh man. If you really want to turn the tables in your interview and show that you’re a people-smart team member, ask your interviewer how the company handles conflict. Now, let’s not jump to conclusions and assume there will be big arguments and headbutting at work. But you do want to get an idea of how the team works together and gives feedback. How do they have the hard conversations when something doesn’t go according to plan or someone’s performance isn’t up to snuff?
After you ask your interviewer how conflict is handled, sit back in your chair and don’t fill the awkward silence with more questions. Give them the opportunity to explain the company’s methods of handling conflict—if they have any. If there isn’t an intentional process, the lack of conflict resolution will be obvious. And that might not be a place where you want to work.
14. What sets an excellent employee apart from a good employee?
The difference between a good team member and an excellent team member can be as much as volunteering to take on extra projects, or as little as offering to bring in coffees for the morning meeting. But typically, what separates a super performer from the average Joe is a combination of being hungry, humble and smart.
Excellent employees are hungry to grow and passionate about their work and being of service. They’re humble—able to keep their ego in check and celebrate the people around them. And last but not least, they’re smart and aware of how their behavior affects others. But your interviewer might have their own examples of traits that make an amazing employee. Asking your interviewer what makes a high performer is a sure way to set yourself up for success if you join the team.
15. How does the company celebrate team wins and successes?
The satisfaction of a job well done is so much sweeter when you celebrate with your team around you. And the opposite, wearing yourself out without so much as a “thank you” can really dampen your spirits. To get a good idea of how team accomplishments are celebrated, ask your interviewer how the organization recognizes their people and rewards excellent work, selfless service and hitting big goals.
Now, recognition doesn’t always have to include desserts and desk decorations (who doesn’t love a giant cookie cake?)—but you might want to find out if the team and leadership are passionate about passing compliments all around or collecting critiques instead.
16. Can you describe the personality of the team I’d be working with?
Just like companies have different cultures, so do individual teams within an organization. Are you a creative who’s excited to join a department of quirky designers? Or a project manager who geeks out over calendars and workflow charts? The very responsibilities of the role you’re interviewing for will likely have some personality traits that go right along with it. That’s just part of the job.
Asking your interviewer to describe the personality of the team will help you understand how the team interacts with each other, what the environment is like where your workstation will be located, and even how non-work activities are handled. (Time for a team happy hour, anyone?)
17. How would you describe the office environment?
If you thought that workplace culture was the defining feature of a company, think again. The environment—where work and culture happen—is just as important to consider when you’re applying for a new job. Work environments include the sounds, sights, smells, furnishings and décor, and social atmosphere of the company. To get a good idea of the business vibe, start big and work your way down to the smaller details when you ask your interviewer about the office environment.
Think about this: An office in a downtown skyscraper will come with a totally different set of daily experiences and sensations compared to your neighborhood mom-and-pop shop. You’ll want to narrow your job search to business environments that are stimulating and inspiring to you—not stressful and draining.
Questions to Ask Your Interviewer About Company Policy
Every business has a set of guidelines and policies that help the operation run like a well-oiled machine—or so you hope. Now is the time to find out if the hard-and-fast policies match your workplace wish list.
18. What’s the onboarding process for new hires?
I can’t stress this enough: You want to have a clear understanding of your new hire training and expectations before you decide if this is the job for you. Will you be expected to hit the ground running and propose marketing campaigns on day one? Or will you go through a scheduled training and orientation process that will give you time to learn your new company’s culture and workflow?
Start-up environments, for example, might need you to come in with your best ideas ready from the start. Larger companies probably have their own ways of doing things that will take a bit longer to learn. It’s best to understand early what you’re up for and how you can make a smooth transition into this new role.
19. Do any team members work remotely?
The past few years have really changed the way we work. And while some companies are back at the office, others have kept a work-from-home schedule or allow a split between remote work and time in the building. If you have an environment preference or need some flexibility in your schedule throughout the week, you’ll want to make sure you ask your interviewer about the options of working remotely. Some employers have strict work-from-home policies, and others have a more laid-back approach (if you get your work done). Find what works best for you and see if the company’s policy matches that.
20. Can you describe the performance review process?
If you’re a growth-minded person who’s driven to succeed at work and in life, you probably like to have regular check-ins with yourself and the leaders in your circle about your performance—spiritually, mentally and physically. Your professional life is no exception.
During your interview, you’ll want to ask the hiring manager what the process is for performance reviews. With this information, you’ll learn how you can stay on track for success and growth once you’re on the job. While annual reviews are pretty standard no matter where you work, other companies may have more regular or informal check-ins throughout the year.
21. What are the typical working hours?
Much like the option to work remotely, you’ll want to know early on what the daily hours of the job are. If you’re a night owl, accepting a position where you need to clock in Monday morning at 6 a.m. might be tough to manage. And if you’re a mom who needs to wake up early to get your kids to school, taking a swing shift could mean disaster for your daily routine. Some companies offer a schedule that allows for some flexibility with your start and finish times.
22. Are there opportunities for additional training or professional development?
It’s usually best practice to not ask about employee benefits early in the interview process. But asking your interviewer about professional development shows that you want to continue bringing value to the company during your employment. (Asking about benefits like insurance offerings and retirement savings is better saved for later conversations.)
Keeping an eye out for professional development opportunities will help you determine if this is a position that will allow you to grow, or if it will leave you feeling stale and uninspired.
Questions to Ask Your Interviewer to Build Rapport
Asking interviewers questions about their own professional journey is a great way to create a connection in a high-pressure conversation. Remember, they’re a person too.
23. How did you learn about this company?
One of the easiest ways to discover something in common with your interviewer is to ask how they first learned about the company. Maybe they were referred by a mutual friend, or they have a cool story about finding their job through a podcast or newspaper article. This question is such an easy way to start conversation, it would be silly not to ask. (And aren’t you curious?)
24. What was the biggest adjustment for you as a new team member?
No matter their job title or experience, your interviewer also experienced a learning curve when they first started their job. Why not ask them about it? You’ll get some valuable insight that can help you decide if this is a company that shares your values. This also helps create a friendly bond with your interviewer.
Asking about your interviewer’s biggest adjustment can also give you clues about the company culture—especially if they came from a very different working environment. This is your chance to learn as much as you can about the organization, so take advantage of this valuable conversation time.
25. What is your favorite core value of the company?
Asking your interviewer about their favorite (or most challenging) core value is a fantastic way to connect one-on-one and learn more about the heart of the company. Do service-themed core values feel like second nature to your interviewer? Maybe they’re challenged by core values about not complaining—why?
Remember that core values will be different from company to company. Some businesses have more core values than others, but the important thing is that these rules of engagement are clearly defined for everyone to strive for. And that includes your interviewer.
26. How would you describe your leadership style?
Some leaders prefer a hands-on approach and are highly interactive and collaborative with their teams. Others might take a more hands-off approach where delegation and distance are the keys to success. If you’re interviewing with the person who will become your direct supervisor, this is the chance to get insight into their management style—as well as their leadership mistakes.
Leadership styles include how a manager likes to communicate, collaborate with the team, and initiate and drive projects, as well as their expectations for a positive working relationship. In this instance, asking your interviewer about their leadership style is a chance for you to listen and learn more about what makes them tick.
27. How has your role evolved since you started working here?
Understanding how your interviewer’s role has changed over time will give you a sneak peek into how the company values employee growth. You’ll also get a glimpse into the interviewer’s own self-awareness. Are they happy in this job? Do they feel like they’re working with their best talents, passion and mission? Asking this question will give you great insight into the team’s happiness and success at work. This is all valuable information that will paint a picture of the culture you might be joining.
28. What team accomplishments are you most proud of?
Asking your interviewer what team accomplishments they’re most proud of is a great way to demonstrate that you’re a team player. This question will also give you a good idea of how the team overcomes challenges, achieves their goals, and moves forward through unpredictable situations (like the year 2020).
This question is a one-two punch. First, you’ll learn about what the team prioritizes when facing difficult decisions, as well as their attitude along the way. You’ll also learn about the interviewer’s values. If they’re proud of the way everyone came together to fix a problem or hit their sales goals after a challenging year, you’ll get to know what they find most important at work.
29. Is there anything in my background that isn’t a good fit for this role?
Wow—talk about personal ownership! Asking your interviewer if there’s anything about your experience that isn’t a good fit for the job shows that you’re a big-picture thinker. You have the self-awareness to consider what new skills you’ll need to learn, as well as any areas of improvement you can tackle before accepting a job offer. This can be especially helpful if you’re making a career change. And if your background isn’t a good fit at all, it’s better to find out sooner rather than later so you can find the right fit.
30. Do you need any additional information from me?
To close out your interview, it’s courteous to ask your interviewer if they will need any additional information from you to move forward in the interview process. If you’re applying for a creative position, you might be asked to share more of your portfolio. If you continue advancing through the interview process, eventually your hiring manager will want to see a list of references.
If these extra steps haven’t already been addressed by your interviewer (usually they’ll let you know each step of the way), go ahead and take the initiative to ask what they need. This will show you’re available and willing to share the information to help the process move right along.
Are you looking for extra tips to make a positive impression during an interview? Check out my free Interview Guide!