Which questions should I ask at an interview?

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At a job interview I know I’m supposed to ask questions, but what questions would I ask?

Employers like to give you, the interview candidate, a chance to ask questions. Why? Because the interview is about fit. They are checking to see if you fit what they are looking for, and you are checking to see if their job opportunity is what you are looking for.

So, to figure out which questions you might want to ask you can start by thinking about what you would like to know. What would help you understand the job and their organization better?

Some ideas:

Would you like to know what kinds of projects you might get to work on? “Can you tell me about the types of projects someone in this role would be working on?”

Are you curious about which other people in the organization you would be interacting with? “Who does the person in this role interact with?” and/or “How much time is spent working independently, and how much is spent working directly with others? And who are the other people that the person in this job works closely with?”

Wondering how this job came to be open? “How did this job come to be available? Is it a newly created position?”

Want to know more about the tasks of the job and more about the skills that will be important? “Can you tell me more about what you think will lead to success in this job?” or “What do you think will be the biggest challenges for someone in this job?”

Questions to keep for later:

While you may be really itching to find out more about salary, benefits, vacation, etc., it is usually best to hang on to these questions until later in the process. Once a job offer has been made (i.e., the employer has offered you the position) you can then start discussing and possibly negotiating the terms, such as salary and benefits.

The bottom line is that asking questions is a chance for you to learn more about the opportunity at hand and at the same time show the employer how interested in the job you are and that you are serious about making a good decision about your next job opportunity.

Click here to check out more of Cathy’s answers to pressing career questions from students and new grads just like you.

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About the author

Cathy Keates is a career counsellor and trainer who has worked with university students and graduates for the past decade, helping them to strategically create careers they will love. She has worked as a career counsellor at Queen's University and was the associate director of the career centre at York University. Convinced that we can all create lives based on authenticity and integrity, she is the author of the new job search book Not for Sale! and shares her thoughts about finding work without losing yourself on her blog, Transform Your Job Search.