Smiling woman in a job interview

At the end of an interview, it’s standard procedure to save some time for the candidate to ask any questions he or she might have. Yet surprisingly so many hopefuls end an interview without asking a hiring manager any questions at all!

Why You Should Always Ask Questions

Asking questions at the end of an interview communicates a few important things to an interviewer:

  • You are truly interested in the role and company
  • You did some research on the company
  • You were engaged during the interview

Plus, interviews are a two-way street. It’s not just about you impressing a company (although that’s a big part of it); it’s also deciding whether this is a company you really want to work for. So don’t waste the opportunity—speak up!

What You Should Ask

First, you should do your research on the company: look at their website, social media and google for any recent news stories. You want to avoid asking any questions that you should already know the answer to (learn more interview preparation tips here). identified five key areas where job seekers can gain extra insight and ask questions that reflect positively on you.

Identify Their Pain:

    • “What is one of the biggest problems the company faces that someone with my background could help alleviate?”
    • “If I started in this job tomorrow, what would be my two most pressing priorities?”

Find Out Where the Company Is Going:

    • “Where do you see this department/company in five years?”
    • “What are the long- and short-term goals of the company/department/work group?

Determine Whether You’d Fit In:

    • “How would you describe your company’s culture?
    • “What tangible and intangible qualities attracted you to the organization?”

Show You’re Really Interested:

    • “What additional information can I provide about my qualifications?”
    • “What are the next steps in the selection process?”

Ask Follow-Ups:

    • “Can you clarify what you said about…?”
    • “Can you give me some examples of…?”

Other good questions to ask are:

  • What does success look like in this role at the 30, 60, 90 day mark?
  • What would a typical work day/week look like for someone in this position?
  • What are the opportunities for training and career advancement?
  • What would I need to do in order to be the most successful person in the company? (Particularly good for sales roles). Or a softer version – What type of person does it take to be successful here?
  • What do you see as my strongest assets and possible weaknesses? Do you have any concerns that I need to clear up in order to be the top candidate?
  • When did you join the company? / Why did you choose to work for this company? (Only to be asked at the end and if you feel it’s appropriate for the particular interviewer)

Instead of asking for next steps, if you really want the job, why not ask for it? It’s a bold move but can really set you apart from the pack.

There are also some questions you should never ask, such as “What does your company do?” (you should know that from your research) or, “How much vacation would I get?” (save salary and benefits questions for later in the process).