As we all know by now, the true purpose of an interview is not to test your knowledge, but your personality.
Of course, you still need to prepare for the technical questions related to your subject, but that’s not enough.
There are many supposedly innocent and unrelated questions asked in the interview that you don’t considered significant, such as
“So, tell me about yourself?”
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
But the truth is, these questions are far more important than you think. Your answers to these questions which test your personality play pivotal roles in your selection or rejection.
Among many such questions, a very common one is
“Do you have any questions to ask us?”
And answering with “No, thank you!” will be a suicidal move.
You should be prepared to ask questions whenever you are expected to. Whenever you get the chance, you should ask the interviewer relevant and interesting interview questions.
In this Guide You Will Find:
- Importance of Asking Questions to the Interviewer
- List of Questions (by Category and with Explanations)
- What to Ask When and To Whom?
- Things NOT to do when asking the Interviewer Questions
Importance of Asking Questions to the Interviewer
Suppose you are in the interview room. Everything went pretty well. You answered almost all the interview questions directed towards you as well as you could.
Now it’s time to wrap up. While you are preparing to leave, one of the interviewers casually floats the question towards you:
“Now, do you have any questions for us?”.
And you nodded your head towards the negative, or answered, “Well, not right now.” And with that, you just destroyed all the good impressions that you created in the last half-an-hour.
After all, why do they find your inability to ask the interviewer questions so off-putting?
Well, there might be many reasons. Your inability to ask good questions, or any question at all implies either your lack of interest or your lack of preparation.
This is one of the very common interview questions, and if you fail to answer it by asking interviewer questions, that questions your integrity and the recruiters cannot help but think that you simply didn’t care to do your minimum homework, or you are not very interested in this job.
The recruiters would much rather take a candidate who is a little short on experience, but has an impressive personality.
So, can you ask anything that pops in your mind when you given the chance to ask the interviewer one or two interview questions? Well, No! There are some specific subjects, and you should stick to that only.
List of Questions (by category and with explanations)
Here are the general topics that you can ask about. You should stick to these subjects while asking interviewer questions.
About the job
- What does the day-to-day job in this position look like?
- How many working hours per week?
- Whom do I report my work to?
- May I know about my immediate supervisor?
- How do I collaborate with my immediate supervisor on a daily basis?
- Why did the last person holding this position leave?
- For how long has this position been open?
- How many people have been hired in this position in the last two years?
- What are the extra responsibilities, if any, that has not been included in the job description?
- What are you looking for in a candidate for this position?
- If I get selected, how can I excel in this job?
- Who will be my team members (if any)? Or,
- Who are the persons I will be directly collaborating with? Can you tell me more about them, and their job responsibilities?
- How much impact does this job role create in the company’s overall progress?
- Will I be taking any strategic decisions in this role?
- What would you say are the most important traits of a candidate for this job role?
- If I get selected, what are the projects that I’ll be immediately working on?
- What skills will I need to acquire for this job?
- Will I be leading a team, or guiding someone?
- Will I need to travel for this job?
Why are these questions important?
These questions are actually very helpful for you. You should fully exploit the chance and ask the interviewer about any doubts that rise in your mind. You will get a thorough insight into the job role by asking interviewer questions.
Basic interview questions like how many working hours are there, and who you will be working with, will prepare you for what is coming your way once you get selected.
Now, there are some more complex questions in this list, like questions about the people that held this position before you, why did they leave, and for how long has this position been open. If you ask the interviewer these questions, you can gain some interesting perspectives.
After all, an interview is a two-way street. As much as the interviewer has the right to judge whether you are the right candidate for them, you too have the right to judge whether this is the right opportunity for you.
The company can either provide some valid and acceptable answers, or can be superficial. Either way, if you sense something fishy, you can just allow yourself another reason to reconsider joining this company. Thus, asking interviewer questions help you in many ways.
There are also questions you should ask the interviewer about what the job demands, like whether you will be taking any strategic decisions, what skills will you need to freshly acquire, and what are they looking for in a candidate to be selected for this job.
These interview questions will not only help you in gaining valuable information about the job, but also impress the interviewer immensely, as they will see how much you are striving to excel in your role.
Asking interviewer questions about team members and your immediate supervisors, or how your role helps in the company’s development are also very impressive questions to ask. They show your interest in the job and your eye for details.
Questions to Ask interviewer About future and opportunities
- What will be my goals in the next 30 days, 6 months and 1 year?
- How will my success or failure in this role be assessed?
- What are the biggest challenges that I will be facing in this role?
- How does the future map look like in this company after I excel in this role?
- How does my future look like? When will I be promoted to the next level?
- What will be the motivations for me to go on in this company and in this job role?
- How can I be successful in this position?
- How will I be trained for this job and by whom?
- How did the previous employees holding this position do in their future after they left this company?
- How important my job role is, and will be in the next 1 year or 2 years?
Why asking these questions to interviewer is important?
Like the questions in the ‘about job’ section, you can divide these questions too into several categories, and ask the interviewer when you find them relevant. Each category serves a different purpose. For example, there are questions like what your immediate and ultimate goals will be in this company. This will prepare you for what’s coming your way, and you can decide whether you are up for the challenge or not.
There are also some interview questions for you to ask the interviewer like how your success or failure will be measured, how does your future look like in this company as well as outside this company, when and why you will be promoted etc. you have every right to think about your future, and you must have a clear knowledge about your future paths. Asking interviewer questions like this will provide you an interesting glimpse into your future, and you can decide whether you want to see yourself there in the future or not.
Finally, there are some more informative questions like how you can be successful in this job, your present and future importance in this company, how you will be trained etc. These are pretty interesting questions that you can ask the interviewer if you want to find these out before joining, and if this information is important to you.
Questions to ask the interviewer about the Company
- What do I need to know about this company that is not public information?
- Who are the direct competitors of this company?
- What are the company’s targets and goals?
- What can you describe about the company culture?
- How many people work in this company and how many of them joined in the last year?
- Is the company going through any particular crisis that I should know about in order to work our way to fix it?
- What philosophy does the company maintain towards its clients and customers?
- How does the company’s future look like to you?
- Is there any new plans or areas that the company is planning to explore?
- How is the company’s management style?
- For how long do the employees stay in this company, and what are their main reasons for quitting?
- Do you feel valued in this company? Will I be able to feel the same way if I join the company?
- Is the company’s top management open to suggestions? Do they communicate well with the middle or bottom layer of the company employees?
- How is the company’s relationship with new and existing clients?
- Will the company be going through any major changes in their management or working style in near future?
Why are these questions important?
Again, all these interview questions serve two purposes. They give you valuable information about the company as well as show the interviewer that you are serious about this job, that you think about the company as well as the job role, and that you are genuinely interested.
Questions to ask the interviewer( recruiter or hr manager) About the Compensation
Well these are NOT for the hiring manager or technical interviewer but to the recruiter or human resource manager. Because, in many corporate companies, the hiring manager is not supposed to discuss the compensation part with the interviewer.
- What does the vacation time look like?
- Is the salary negotiable?
- What other perks do you offer?
- Do you offer lunch?
- Do you offer commute or compensation for commute?
- Do you offer relocation allowance?
- What about incentives?
Why are these questions important?
Of course, these questions are important for you and we believe you genuinely want to know the answers. But these are more sensitive topics that you should be asking the interviewer only when you are expressly discussing about it with the Human Resource. We will discuss more in detail about which questions to ask whom, and at what stage of the recruitment process.
Questions to ask the interviewer about the interview
- If you don’t mind my asking, how did I perform in this interview?
- What are my weakest points that can lead to a rejection?
- What can I expect in the next steps of the recruitment process?
- When can I expect to hear from you?
- Should I follow up on my own? If yes, how?
- How will the final decision be taken, and based on which points?
- If I get rejected here, can you share some tips so that I can improve myself in the future?
- How many people are interviewing for this job and how is my performance against them?
Why are these questions important?
These are very interesting questions to ask the interviewer. Like the questions about compensations, you might be genuinely interested in knowing this information.
For e.g. if you are not selected for this job, by asking interviewer questions like this, you will be able to improve yourself in future if you explicitly know where you went wrong. Similarly, knowing about the further steps in the recruitment process, how you can follow up or how long do you have to wait for confirmation will save you both time and trouble.
In short, these are the common and most useful questions that you can ask the interviewer, when you are told to do so.
What to Ask When and To Whom?
Timing is an important factor while asking interviewer questions, and answering interview questions with more questions.
You cannot ask the interviewer about overtime benefits and vacation leaves straightaway in the first interview.
Similarly, asking interviewer questions about what the company exactly does while attending your final interview with the hiring manager is a strict no-no.
You can be given the chance of asking interviewer questions on various stages of the recruitment process. And you should prepare a specific set of questions for each stage.
You can be expected to ask the interviewer a question in generally three stages of the interview.
One, when an HR person calls you for the first time and invites you for an interview.
Two, the initial interviews with Human Resource Managers, and
Three, the final interview with the hiring manager.
Having a clear idea about what questions to ask at which stage of the recruitment process, will help you big time.
Not only will you be better prepared for the interview, but you might actually gain some really critical information from the interviewers’ answers. Being well-informed will help you take a better decision too.
Questions to ask in an initial phone conversation:
During the initial phone conversation, when the HR person is trying to decide whether to select you for an interview or not, or have already selected you for interview and running another screening, you can ask the interviewer some basic and standard questions from the list. For example, you can ask interview questions about the working hours, time schedules, about the company culture etc. Basic questions are welcome. You cannot ask them about salary and incentives right away.
Questions to ask the Hiring Manager:
You should ask the hiring manager more questions from the ‘about job’ and ‘about future’ sections. What your job entails, how you collaborate with others, what are the expectations from you, how you can excel at your job, and what does your future look like- these are the best topics to raise in front of the hiring manager. You can ask them about your performance in the interview too, and their reasons behind your selection or rejection.
Questions to ask the Human Resource Manager:
When you are being interviewed by the Human Resource manager, you should avoid asking interviewer questions about the core details of the job, assuming those details are better known by the Hiring Manager than the HR department (unless you are interviewing for the HR jobs). You should stick to those interview questions from topics that you know the HR managers will be better able to answer. For example, you can pick questions from the ‘about company’ section and ask them about the company’s work culture, its relationship with clients, the employee strength of the organization, the company’s future plans etc. you can also ask the interviewer about your interview performance.
When to ask about the salary and benefits?
This is a sensitive topic. You should be absolutely careful about the timing. You should be asking interviewer questions about compensations and benefits only when you are selected in the interview and the company is willing to negotiate a deal with you. Rest assured, you will get ample time to raise these topics in front of them. When they are expressly conveying their intention to hire you, then you can ask them about what’s there for you in this deal. When the timing is right, a hiring organization will be more than happy to answer your doubts about remunerations.
Things NOT to do when asking the interviewer questions:
- Don’t be self-centered: Don’t ask too many questions about your profit and your gains to the interviewer. Keep your queries about expected advantages limited to 1, or at most 2, per session of interview. Otherwise, the company will think of you as a selfish person and not a team player who is able to deliver the company’s bigger goals.
- Don’t ask too common questions: Avoid asking the interviewer questions whose answers are easily available for you to find out. For example, what does the company exactly do, or what your job role entails, will create negative impressions as the interviewer will think that you haven’t done any preparation of your own. These information are commonly available in the company website, so don’t ask such obvious questions and just try to find them out by yourself.
- Don’t ask questions with short answers: you should ask questions that have answers that are descriptive, informative and impressive, not those questions that can be easily answered with a yes or no.
- Don’t ask personal or inappropriate questions: Always stick to a professional approach. Don’t ask the interviewer questions that are related to his personal life, or questions that are confidential, like about how much benefit does the interviewer receive in his position, or what his qualifications are. Simply, don’t ask any questions whose answers will not help you make a better decision in any way.
So, in short these are the most important and relevant interview questions that you should ask the interviewer when directed to do so. You don’t need to remember all of them for your interview. This is a complete list and you need to pick only 2-3 questions that you find relevant and interesting. Remember what to ask when, and you will be able to crack the interview easily.
The below articles may of help to increase your chances of getting interviews.