Interviews can be nerve-wracking, and it’s easy to overlook prime questions to ask your interviewer in the moment. What’s more, hiring managers agree that candidates who ask questions at an interview are viewed as more prepared and interested in the role.
What is the best question a candidate can ask in an interview?
To help you brainstorm questions for your next interview, we asked HR and business leaders this question for their best advice. From asking about metrics of success to learning about the team structure, there are several suggestions that may help you ace this part of your interview.
Here are 14 questions to ask an interviewer:
- Position Yourself as a Visionary
- Show Your Desire to Success
- Look for Value Alignment
- Think About Long-Term Success
- Ask About a New Company Initiative
- Showcase Your Knowledge
- Be a Problem Solver
- Establish Rapport
- Bring Up the Onboarding Process
- Inquire About Advancement Opportunities
- Look Into the Team Structure
- Solidify the Metrics of Success
- Understand the Job Expectations
- Refer to Past Successes
Position Yourself as a Visionary
“How do you see the organization evolving over the next five years?”
Asking this question shows the interviewer that you care about the company’s growth and long-term success. It also demonstrates that you have the potential to be a visionary, able to assist the organization in adapting to and capitalizing on industry developments.
Denise Gredler, BestCompaniesAZ
Show Your Desire to Succeed
“What are the most significant characteristics for someone to have in order to succeed in this position?”
This question demonstrates that you want to succeed once you’ve been hired and that you’re adaptive. You may also get insight into what the organization is looking for in a candidate, which you can use to frame yourself as an ideal candidate in the next rounds of interviews. The answer to this question can also help you determine if the position is right for you.
Ryan Nouis, TruPath
Look for Value Alignment
“What are your company’s values, and what kind of people do you want to represent them?”
This question is wonderfully helpful in that it shows an applicant is really interested in the company and also helps identify candidates who will likely stay with your company for a long time. It isn’t superficial; the person asking it wants to know what makes your company tick.
And more than ever before, applicants are looking for positions at companies that align with their own values. A candidate who asks this question is the kind of person I want on my team.
Brian Greenberg, Insurist
Think About Long-Term Success
“What are you hoping the person you hire for this position will accomplish in their first three months versus their first year?”
I really like this question because it shows that a candidate is thinking in the long-term while also taking into account how fast-paced many companies are today. At the same time, it’s clear they are seriously thinking about what their contributions to the company could be.
They want to have realistic expectations about the position and how their performance will be measured. I can also get insight into how much of a team player someone is from this question.
Josh Zywein, Paradox
Ask About a New Company Initiative
At the end of an interview, show you’ve done your homework by asking about a new company service or product you came across in your research. This kind of question highlights your true interest in working for the company and your curiosity about where the company is going or how it’s doing. Especially at a small, innovative marketing agency like ours, great candidates are those who are proactive and open to exploring things they may not initially understand.
Rronniba Pemberton, Markitors
Showcase Your Knowledge
“Which tools do you use to analyze your SEO and website’s performance?”
Any question which shows that you’re knowledgeable about the job you’re applying for will give you bonus points during the interview. For example, suppose you’re a marketing professional.
In that case, you can ask which tools the company uses to track the performance of its SEO efforts and how it analyzes the performance of its website. However, pick the target audience for your question wisely. While a marketing manager or SEO expert will have no problem answering such a question, an HR specialist might not know the answer to your question.
That’s why you should have different questions prepared for your potential manager or team members and a recruiter. Focus on work-related topics when talking to people who perform similar tasks to yours, and ask the hiring manager about company culture, benefits, and the details of your employment contract.
Dorota Lysienia, LiveCareer
Be a Problem Solver
Every company faces challenges. Before joining an organization, you’ll want to evaluate the biggest problems they need to solve. If an interviewer isn’t sure, that could be a red flag. When faced with obstacles, a company should know how to navigate them and offer solutions.
Aiden Cole, Tatbrow
“What is the best thing about working in this organization, according to you?”
Asking this question has two advantages. (1) It creates an opportunity to establish a friendly and personal rapport with the interviewer; and (2), it helps you determine what the person interviewing you (a current employee) really values in the company if their answer is authentic. And it can help you decide if you want to take up the job or not.
Joe Flanagan, VelvetJobs
Bring Up the Onboarding Process
Ask about what the onboarding process is for new employees. This will show the interviewer that you are very interested in the position and that you have given some thought to what it might be like to actually work at the company.
This will also help you find out more about the role and what is expected. It will definitely help the interviewer remember you and make you stand out above other candidates.
Sarah Pirrie, Healist Naturals
Inquire About Advancement Opportunities
“Is there room for advancement and training within the role or company?”
Inquiring about advancement chances shows the interviewer that you’re serious about your profession and want to stay with the company in the future.
If you’re unaware of the typical career path for someone in this role, asking this question will help you determine whether a long-term career with the organization is possible or if you’ll need to go on to earn more responsibilities.
Axel Hernborg, Tripplo.com
Look Into the Team Structure
I love to see candidates ask about the team structure or hierarchy of the position. Rarely does a person operate in a vacuum, and knowing who you will be working with, reporting to, or overseeing is super beneficial when making an informed decision. Unfortunately, it’s rare we get this type of question which is why it stands out so much when we hear it!
Sylvia Kang, Mira
Solidify the Metrics of Success
One great question a candidate can ask in an interview is, “If hired, what would be the metrics that would be used to evaluate my success?”
This simple question shows that you are curious about how the company will judge each employee’s success and give you an idea of how to handle the job if you were hired. It will show you what metrics are important to the employer, and you will be able to judge whether or not these metrics align with your skills and values.
It will also set you up well if you are hired so you are not hit with any surprises of how you will be evaluated as an employee.
John Wu, Gryphon Connect
Understand the Job Expectations
Interviews are also an opportunity for candidates to interview the company, not just vice versa. If the role is a backfill, I would dig further.
Was the employee who held the position prior to the opening promoted? Did they leave the company? This helps the candidate understand the role expectations even more.
If the person was promoted, this could be a position that leads to more opportunities or great visibility from higher-ups in a company. If the person is no longer with the company, what led to their departure? Did they not meet expectations? How can the candidate better meet expectations in this new role? Are the expectations for the role achievable?
If this is a net new position, what caused the company to create a new position? Was there growth? Is there a void they are hoping to fill with a new person joining the team?
Candidates should know what they are signing up for and what potential pitfalls or opportunities exist within the potential company.
Brittany Ethridge, Mosaic
Refer to Past Successes
“When thinking back to the people who have held this position in the past, what differentiated the good ones from the great ones?”
This question shows the interviewer that you don’t want to just perform your job satisfactorily, but you want to perform it exceptionally. It makes you look thoughtful and driven.
Hiring managers ideally want to find someone that is going to go above and beyond their expectations. By asking this question, you’re showing them that person is you.
Jean Gregoire, Lovebox