Intelligent Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

You’re about to go out on an interview, hoping to gain a job offer and hopefully a satisfying career. But you’re frustrated that the questions you really want to ask your interviewer are taboo. You’ve been told you shouldn’t ask about compensation. You can’t ask about benefits, or vacation time, or any of the “what’s in it for me” things that affect you personally. Why not? The truth is, few employers primarily want the interview to actually be about what you have to gain. From the employer’s perspective, the real purpose of the interview, says Lou Adler, is to accurately assess your “competency, fit, and motivation” to learn whether you’ll fit within their organization and contribute to it. Like it or not, an interview is really all about determining your ability to meet the company’s needs.

So what kind of questions can you ask that aren’t just about your needs? Below are intelligent questions we’ve collected from many sources, including Glassdoor, to ask your interviewer that are designed to show your preparedness and convey your desire to fit in with and serve the company. So that you don’t sound like every other person who reads this post, we recommend that you rewrite the questions in your own words.

1. About the Company /Department:

  • What type of growth is the company experiencing?
  • What do you think are the keys to your company’s growth and success?
  • How does your company differentiate itself from other competitors?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the department/company?
  • If you could improve one thing about the company, what would it be?
  • How would you describe your culture and work environment?
  • What are the core values of the company?
  • What are the company/departmental goals for this year?
  • What would you say are the best reasons why candidates should consider working here?
  • What type of employee thrives within your company?
  • What are the short- and long-term goals you’d like to see achieved in the department?

2. About the People and Its Managerial Leaders:

  • What attracted you to this company, and how long have you been here?
  • What do you enjoy most about working for the company?
  • What is the average tenure of employees in the department/company?
  • Why do employees stay with your company?
  • How would you describe the management style of the leadership team?
  • How would you describe the management style of the manager who supervises this position?
  • What type of professional development does the company offer?

3. About the Position:

  • What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this position?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing this position?
  • What do you consider to be the critical skills needed to succeed in this position?
  • What are the top 3-5 key accomplishments you’d like to see the person in this position achieve in the first 30-90 days to help the department/company?
  • What does success look like for this position, and how do you measure it?
  • How will the work I’ll be doing contribute to the organization’s mission?
  • How soon would you like to fill this position?
  • What impact is this opening having on the department and company?
  • What’s the career path for this position?
  • Is there anything about my resume or background that makes you question whether I’m a good fit for this position?

Now that you’ve seen the list of questions, you’ll realize that many of them are, in a roundabout way, about you. For instance, when you ask them to describe the management style of the leadership team, you’ll be listening with your own preference of style in mind. Or when the interviewer lists the top 3-5 key accomplishments this new employee needs to achieve, you’ll be comparing the answers with your own skills, experience, and previous accomplishments. So while these intelligent questions to ask your interviewer don’t seem to be all about you, the answers your interviewer gives you actually are!

For more interview questions executives say they like to be asked, click here.

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