“What questions should I ask in a job interview?”
It’s inevitable. Get to the end of ANY job interview and they’re going to ask you what questions you have. Having the right questions to ask in job interview makes a big difference. But here’s the thing: they’re not asking just to make sure your questions are answered. Interviewers care as much about the questions you ask as your answers to their questions.
I know, it’s a lot of pressure to be in the driver’s seat.
When it comes down to it, interviewers are looking to answer three main questions:
1. Can you do the job?
2. Do you want to do the job?
3. Will we like working with you?
Your answers to their questions and the questions you ask will give them the evidence they need to answer those questions confidently. This will determine whether you get an offer or not.
If you’re looking for questions you can ask verbatim, you’ve come to the wrong place. And if you ask generic questions you found on the internet, interviewers will think you’re just going through the motions.
Here are a few ideas for generating your own questions that show you can do the job, that you want to do the job, and that they’ll like working with you.
Questions about how you can perform your best.
You can show you’re a top performer by asking questions related to top performance. What that means for you depends on your specific role, but let’s use an example.
If I’m interviewing a resume writer, it’s a no brainer that they need to understand applicant tracking software. A good resume writer will show they prioritize content focused on quantifiable accomplishments. But a great resume writer will also show expertise in formatting resumes such that hiring managers and recruiters are immediately drawn to the content that will have them wanting to interview the candidate.
If they ask a question that shows they already have this knowledge and want to know more about how we do it, it’s reasonable to expect they’re capable of being a top performer.
Questions about the specific things you love about this job.
People do jobs for a range of reasons. Ultimately, companies prefer to hire candidates who are self starters because they’re passionate about the work and will be fulfilled doing it.
One of the reasons companies prefer not to hire candidates who are “overqualified” is because it’s hard to love a job that offers little challenge or growth. Great employees love to learn and will ask questions about the things that excite them.
What about this job excites you? What part stirs up unquenchable curiosity?
My favorite part of my job at LinkedIn was being able to coach my team members. Part of the reason I got hired was my “x-factor” of bringing more to the team than just doing my job. I made the whole team better because I couldn’t help finding ways to help them improve.
Questions about what would make this a great work environment for you.
These kinds of questions are most authentic when they’re based on observations from an in person interview. When you come into the office, you’re going to see what it’s like to work there. Keep an eye out for what seems enjoyable about working here! (and if it seems pretty boring, that’s a red flag)
Let’s say you’re interviewing for a job at a company that creates products for outdoor adventures like REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.). They’re a great company for many reasons, but many people are drawn to work for them because their employees are like-minded: they love the outdoors and adventures!
You might come into the office and see a poster on the wall about a quarterly retreat: part of the agenda is a hike you just did the other week and a seminar on sustainably “living off the land”. If that sounds like the coolest company retreat you can imagine, ask about it!
If you’re the kind of person that likes the same kinds of things your coworkers like, that’s a sign you’ll get along.
Remember that the questions you ask in a job interview are a reflection of your priorities, personality, and abilities. Be intentional because they often tell employers more about you than your interview answers.
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