When you’re interviewing for a new position, it’s (obviously) the interviewer’s opportunity to ask job interview questions, get to know you, and evaluate whether you’re a good fit for the role.
But job interviews are a two-way street. Just like the interviewer uses smart questions to determine whether you’re the right fit for the job, as an interviewee, you also have to ask the best questions to evaluate the company and the position — and whether it aligns with what you’re looking for in your next career move.
But as a candidate, what, exactly, are good questions to ask during the interview process to ensure that you gather all the information you need to make an informed decision about the role? How can you find out if you're interviewing for the best new job for your career?
Let’s take a look at 23 interview questions you’ll want to have on hand during your next interview, so you ask the right questions (and make the right decision about whether to end your job search and accept the new gig).
Questions about the Position
1. What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this role?
Before you can decide whether a role is the right fit for you, it’s important to understand what, exactly, you would be doing in the role. Asking your interviewer to talk through the daily responsibilities of the role can give you an idea of a typical day in the position — which can help you decide whether that’s the kind of “typical day” you want for your next career move. For example, if you’re the kind of person that loves to interact with your co-workers — and you find out that 90 percent of the role’s day-to-day responsibilities require you to be alone in a cubicle — that job might not be the best fit.
2. What are the biggest challenges associated with this position?
Every job has challenges. But before you decide whether you want to accept a position, you need to know what the challenges of that job are — and whether you’re equipped to deal with those challenges. This question can also clue you into any red flags about the job, company, or work environment that could be problematic. For example, if the interviewer says, “The biggest challenge of this position is dealing with the boss…” you know the company might have a management issue.
3. What are you looking for in an ideal candidate for this position?
It’s important to understand what the interviewer and company considers to be an ideal candidate for the role they’re hiring for; that way, you can compare their idea of an ideal candidate with your skills and qualifications to see if they’re a match. For example, if the interviewer tells you “…the ideal candidate would have at least five years of experience managing a team” — and you’ve never managed any direct reports — you know that, in their eyes, you’re not quite the right fit for the position.
4. Is this a newly created role? If not, why is the person currently in this role leaving?
Understanding whether the role you’re interviewing for is a new role or existing role is important; while there’s no “right” answer, understanding whether a role is newly created or has existed at the company for a time can give you insights into what you can expect from the position. For example, if it’s a newly created role, you can probably expect to spend a lot of time figuring things out at the beginning — while, if you’re interviewing for an established role, there’s likely to be a framework for the role you can more easily step into.
If you’re interviewing for an existing role, asking why the person that’s currently in the role is leaving can also give you deeper insights into the position (and whether it’s a position you want to take). For example, if you find out the person is being promoted, you know that the job has upward mobility. On the flip side, if you find out they left suddenly after an altercation with their supervisor, it could be an indicator of a toxic work environment.
5. What types of projects will this role be responsible for?
During the interview, you’ll want to get a sense of what types of projects you’ll be working on if you decide to take the role. Ask the interviewer to give you some examples of tasks, projects, and responsibilities this person will be expected to manage — and, if possible, to share real-life examples. For example, if you’re going to be responsible for designing presentations, ask if they can share a recent presentation design; that way, you can get a feel for what they’re looking for.
Questions about the Team and Work Environment
6. Can you tell me about the person supervising this position? What’s their management style?
Your supervisor can have a huge impact on your experience at work — so it’s important to ask about them during the interview process. Ask for any details the interviewer can share about the position’s supervisor (like their background, how long they’ve been with the company, how many people they manage, their personality, and their management style.)
7. What teams will the person in this position work most closely with? What can you tell me about their work style?
Just like your supervisor, your co-workers can have a major impact on your work experience — so make sure to ask the same kinds of questions about the people you’ll be working with.
8. How many people directly report to the person in this position?
If you’re applying for a management position, it’s important to know how many people you’d be managing if you were to take the position; otherwise, it’s tough to accurately assess whether the job is the right match for your skills, experience, and background. For example, if your interviewer tells you the new hire will be managing a team of 20 — and you currently manage a team of two — that might feel like too big of a jump for you. On the other hand, if you’re currently managing a large team — and find out the position only has three direct reports — the job could feel like a step backwards.
9. What is the culture like?
You want to find a position that feels like the right fit. But you also want to find a company that feels like the right fit — and in order to do that, you need to ask about the company’s culture.
Ask your interviewer to talk you through their experience of the company culture and company values. Do the employees value teamwork — or do people mostly work on their own? Is the organization hyper competitive — or do people support each other to reach common goals? Does the leadership team take a hands-on approach in working with their employees — or is the CEO only in the office a few times a year? Make sure you get a clear picture of the company’s culture so you can decide whether that’s a culture you want to be a part of.
10. What’s your company’s stance on work-life balance?
Building off the company culture question, it’s important to specifically ask about the organization’s stance on work-life balance. Ideally, you want to find an organization that’s aligned with your own idea of a healthy work-life balance; otherwise, it could cause issues. For example, if you’re the kind of person that likes to clock out every day at 5 p.m. to pursue your personal passions, you don’t want to work for a company that expects their employees to regularly work after hours.
Questions about Performance
11. What are the expectations for this role in the first 30/60/90 days?
Before you decide to accept a new job, it’s important to understand the expectations of the role — particularly at the beginning. Ask your interviewer what the organization expects the new hire to accomplish in their first 30, 60, and 90 days in the role. The answer will give you an idea of the role’s priorities, how you’d be spending your time, and what/when they expect you to reach certain milestones — which can help you determine if the job is a right fit.
12. How is performance evaluated in this role?
Every company has different metrics for evaluating performance — and before you transition into a new role, it’s important to understand how your performance will be measured. For example, does the company evaluate performance based on hours worked (i.e. do they just want you to be logged in and working 40 hours a week)? Or are they more focused on output during work hours (i.e. are they fine with you working 30 hours — as long as you get through your task list)? Not only will this question help you understand the company’s approach to performance management, but it can also give you deeper insights into what the company values and views as important — which can help you better determine if it’s the right organization for you.
Questions about Professional Development
13. How do you see this position growing over the next year/five years?
You know where you want to go in your career — and, in order to get there, you need to find a position that aligns with your long-term goals
Asking your interviewer how they see the position growing over time (one year and five years are great benchmarks) can help you understand the trajectory of the position — and whether it aligns with your desired career path.
14. How do you see the company growing over the next year/five years?
It’s important to understand how the position you’re interviewing for will grow over time — but it’s also important to understand how the company will grow.
Make sure to ask about the company’s growth plans — and make sure, just like the position, they align with your career goals. For example, if you love working at a small company — but the organization has a plan to increase headcount by 300 percent over the next five years — the position may not be a fit for the long term.
15. What training and/or professional development opportunities are available to the person in this position?
You want to work for a company that’s invested in your professional growth — so make sure to ask what kind of training and professional development opportunities are available to the person that accepts the position.
16. Does your company have a mentorship program?
Working with a professional mentor can have a profound impact on your career — and mentoring people that are more junior can be an extremely rewarding experience. Ask if the company you’re interviewing with has a mentorship program; if they do, it shows they take mentorship seriously — and you’ll get the opportunity to reap the benefits of professional mentorship (whether as a mentor, a mentee, or both).
Questions about Perks
17. What kind of benefits do you offer employees?
You can’t evaluate a position without understanding the benefits that go along with it; for example, if a job has a salary of $45,000 and an amazing benefits package (including fully paid health insurance and a 401(k) match), it could actually be a more lucrative opportunity than another job with a $50,000 salary — but no benefits.
Before the end of the interview, make sure to ask about benefits.
18. What is your PTO policy?
Just like you need to understand the benefits associated with a role in order to accurately evaluate the opportunity, you also need to understand the PTO policy. How much time will you get off? Does that PTO accrue — or is it available on the day you start working? Is there a difference between sick leave and vacation time? How is unused PTO handled; for example, is it paid out at the end of the year — or carried over into the next calendar year?
19. What is your remote work policy?
Many employees want flexible work options — and if you’re one of them, it’s important to ask about the company’s remote work policy from the get-go.
20. Are there any additional perks you offer to your employees?
Many companies offer additional perks to their teams (for example, catered lunches or a monthly gym stipend) — so, if you suspect there might be additional perks associated with the role, make sure to ask!
Questions for the Interviewer
21. How long have you been with the company and in your position?
How long your interviewer has been at the company and in their role can help you determine whether they’re an authority on the organization — or if you’ll want to speak to someone with more tenure before making a decision. For example, if your interviewer has only been with the company a few months, they’re not going to be able to give you a very accurate picture of what it’s like to work at the organization for the long term. But if they’ve been there for years — and have been promoted multiple times — they can deliver key insights into the company culture, growth opportunities, and the organization as a whole.
22. What do you like most about working here?
Asking your interviewer what they enjoy most about working at the company can give you key insights into the major selling points of the organization — and can also clue you in if the company isn’t the greatest place to work. For example, if the interviewer has trouble choosing one thing they like most about working at the company — and instead, gush about their co-workers, the leadership, and the projects they get to work on — you know it’s probably a great place to work. On the other hand, if their response is more along the lines of “I don’t know...the parking is easy?” you know it’s probably not the best organization to work for.
23. In your opinion, do you feel like this job/company has supported your professional growth?
If you want to know whether the company you’re interviewing with will support your professional growth, the best thing to do? Ask your interviewer whether they feel like the company has supported their professional development. Past behavior is typically an indicator of future behavior — so, if the company has a track record of supporting employee growth, you can make a safe assumption that they’ll support yours as well.
Interview Tips to Help You Land Your Next Job
Now that you know some of the best interview questions to ask, here are a few things to keep in mind to help you make the most out of the interview process (and hopefully land a job as a result!):
Come prepared. You don’t want to be thinking up questions on the fly during your interview. Make sure to do your research and show up to the interview prepared with the questions you want to ask.
Ask the right questions at the right time. It’s important to ask the right questions during an interview. But it’s also important to ask them at the right time. Remember, the interview is also the company’s opportunity to evaluate you — so typically, it’s best to save your questions till the end of the interview. (Although, if an important question comes up in response to something your interviewer says, it can also be appropriate to ask questions in real time.)
Follow up with a thank you. The interview process doesn’t end when the interview is over! Make sure to follow up with the recruiter, hiring manager, and anyone else that sits in on your interview with a thank you email (or, even better, a handwritten thank you card!).