We’ve all been there. It’s the end of the interview, your interviewer turns to you and says, ‘Do you have any questions for me?’ and your mind goes unhelpfully blank.
It’s generally a good idea to ask a question in a job interview – after all, every article offering interview advice suggests it – but figuring out what to ask can be tricky. To help, we’ve created a guide to the subtle art of asking questions in interviews.
Asking clarifying questions
End-of-interview questions are an opportunity to clarify anything you’re uncertain about – for example, whether you could start the job later than the advertised date, or who your immediate superior would be in the role. Whatever questions you have, try to follow three general rules:
- Ask politely 🤗 You haven’t secured the job yet and still need to make a good impression – so be courteous and respectful!
- Ask clearly 😃 Make your questions direct, focused and specific, so you’re really getting the information you need.
- Avoid questions that are inappropriate before you have an offer 🤑 At this stage, the employer is still working out whether you’re a good fit for the role at all. Starting to negotiate your salary or asking to work remotely is irrelevant and overly assuming.
Asking questions to demonstrate engagement
Questions are also an opportunity to set yourself apart from the crowd and demonstrate that you’re a well-researched, interested candidate.
The best questions are open-ended, genuinely interesting and company-specific. When framing your question, remember to:
- Ask something you want to hear the answer to 👂 Don’t ask a question just for the sake of asking a question; instead, use this opportunity to find out you care about. What’s important to you in this role or organisation? How can you find out about that?
- Demonstrate your research 📚 Impress your interviewer by prefacing your question with a statement that shows you’ve done some research! A strong question about company culture is something like, ‘On Instagram, it looks like the team is quite social – I saw you all went ice-skating last month! How would you describe the company’s social life here?’
- Flip the focus 🔍 🔎 While you can ask plenty of thoughtful, impressive questions about your role, you might be surprised at the insights asking about the company or interviewers can provide. Asking your interviewers what they most enjoy about work, for instance, will tell you not only about them, but also about the company.
- Take notes 🤓 Bring a notebook and pen to your interview and ask (at the beginning!) if you can take notes. You should jot down anything important as the interview progresses – but the notebook really comes into its own once you’re asking, not answering, questions! Not only is it useful to review your notes later, taking them makes you seem like a much more engaged and invested candidate.
Example questions to ask
If in doubt, here are some tried-and-true questions to ask at the end of interviews. In our experience, they almost always prompt interesting answers, and they’re open-ended enough to give you a bit of a rest!
On company culture 🥂
- Can you tell me a little bit about the company culture?
- What is it really like to work here?
- What kind of social opportunities are there and how tight-knit is the team?
- What is your [the interviewer’s] favourite part of working here and honestly, what is your least favourite?
On the role itself 💡
- What do you expect would be the most enjoyable and least enjoyable aspects of this position?
- Where does my role really fit in with the rest of the business?
- What would the best version of a [insert your job title] at this company look like?
- Where have previous people in my role excelled and what could be improved upon?
On the company in general 📈
- What opportunities for professional development do you offer?
- How is performance assessed and reviewed at this company?
- What is this company’s approach to failure? How does it cope when things go wrong? And how does it celebrate success?