Hands down, you will absolutely get this question in your interview. This is how interviewers end their interviews, just like they always start the interview with “tell me about yourself”. Because you know you absolutely will be asked “do you have any questions for me?”, you should be sure to prepare some questions ahead of time.
Asking well-thought-out and insightful questions throughout your interview is a fantastic way to show the interviewer your intelligence and interest in the role. It’s also the best way to get the information you need to best sell yourself, negotiate, and determine if this is even a company you want to work for.
Now I’m not saying you should ask the same blanket questions at every interview. In fact, asking scripted basic questions doesn’t really get you answers and doesn’t really make you look good, which are the two reasons you want to be asking thought-provoking helpful questions. Let’s start by diving into the first reason we ask questions in an interview
Reason 1: We Ask Questions to Get Answers
It’s possible, or even likely after you watch my videos, that you’ve crushed all the interviewer’s questions and nailed your sales pitch. But this interview needs to be about more than just them judging your aptitude and your fit for the job, it needs to be about you getting all the information about the job that you’ll need in order to help you figure out if it’s a good fit for you.
The best way to do this is to get your interviewer to talk candidly about the company, the job role, and their expectations for the candidate. The way you’re going to do that is by asking thought-provoking questions. Thought-provoking questions are questions that the interviewer will actually have to think about, not questions that are going to have a standard rehearsed answer. It’s probably obvious, but, any question that can be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is a bad question.
“I’ve been over the job description, but I was wondering if you could describe this role in your own words.”
Listen closely to this response because it’s going to give you everything you need to know about what this hiring manager really cares about and is looking for in this job role.
We all know that the job description has a lot of “nice to haves”, but this is a question that will let you pinpoint what is really mandatory and what skills you’ll really need to have (or learn) to perform this position tasks.
This question will also give you an idea of what the overall working environment is at this company, which is another interview question you’ll want to have a good answer for. For that, check out my article on how to answer the interview question “What Is Your Ideal Work Environment“.
Another question that will give you a better idea about not just this role, but the context around its vacancy is:
“What makes this position available?”
The answer to this question might come up throughout the interview so use your judgment if it’s worth its own question. you’ll probably only have time for a handful of questions, but if it hasn’t come up, getting a feel for the environment you’d be joining is critical if you’re going to succeed.
For example, if this position is open because the company is expanding and they’re hiring dozens of new people to fill this type of role is very different than the position being open because the last three people who had it had anxiety attacks and quit three weeks after joining.
There’s a laundry list of other great questions that you can ask to get a feel for the job role, the manager, and the company culture. Let’s walk through a few more examples of questions you can ask and why they might be beneficial to ask.
“What are your expectations in the first 90 days?”
This is so critical because you need to know how your success is measured and what is expected of you. This will also likely get into what training might look like in this new company. While this question might seem slightly preemptive, it’s a good litmus test to understand if this is the type of company that has clear expectations and well-defined standards of work. It can be much more difficult to advance your career in a company when you’re not even sure what’s expected of you.
“Can you explain in your own words what the day-to-day looks like?”
We touched on this a bit earlier, but what the job description says isn’t usually the whole picture. It’s always good to get the hiring manager’s perspective on what the daily tasks look like, to help clarify what you’d actually be spending your days doing.
“How do you feel this company outperforms its closest competitors?”
This is kind of a twist on “what do you like about working here”, but will likely get you a more strategic answer at the company level, rather than some personal perk they enjoy about their specific team. Knowing exactly how this company stands out against similar companies in the industry helps you answer the question “why should I work at this company, rather than take a similar role at this other company?”
“What are some of the biggest challenges in this role?”
It’s good to know not only what will make you succeed, but also what pitfalls to avoid. Often times we’re so focused on our strengths and what we’re good at that we can overlook our weaknesses, and those can come back to bite us if we completely ignored learning about them in our interview.
“Are there other sections that this position works closely with?”
This one really helps you get to know the working environment and who you’ll be communicating with on a daily basis. Nobody works in isolation and knowing the surrounding groups that you’ll be working with often will give you a broader perspective on the job role and the overall team.
There are dozens of other questions that you can ask, and you’ll want to be sure that you pick out the ones that you personally feel you’ll need answers to in order to make the best decision if this is the right job for you. Questions like:
- “What are some of the projects your team is working on currently?”
- “What do you see as the direction of the team?”
- “How would you describe the company culture?”
- “How have previous employees succeeded in this role?”
- “What’s your favorite part about working here?”
- “What is the size of the team I’ll be working on?”
- “How has this role changed over time?”
Reason 2: We Ask Questions to Look Good
Another tact you can take when asking interview questions is just to ask really good, insightful questions. Questions that make the interviewer think “wow, what an intelligent and thought-provoking question!” You might not actually care much about the answer, but at the very least, you can get the interviewer talking about themselves, making them enjoy the interview a little more and making you a more memorable candidate.
“How do you feel your role has evolved over time?”
I love this question because it gets the interviewer talking about themselves and their experiences. People love talking about themselves, and interviewers are no exception. When the interviewer is having a better experience with the interview, they’re going to have a better memory of the interview. This isn’t going to outweigh your lack of experience, but often times a job offer can come down to how much the hiring manager likes you, and this can certainly play a role in that perception.
“How do you feel this position fits into the vision of the company?”
This question shows that you’re interested in the big picture and the larger company overall. You can also have this question show that you’ve done your homework on the company. Quick caveat here though… If you’re going to ask this one, be sure to have done the 30 seconds of prep work so you know what the mission, vision, and values of the company actually are.
“What are the metrics that this position will be measured by?”
This can kind of fall into both categories of questions here. It’s great to know exactly how you’re going to be judged throughout your job. The reason I like this as a question to make you look good though is that it shows you not only care about excelling but that you care about numbers. Managers love numbers! Managers know that the only way they’re going to get promoted or get more funding for their team is to show quantitative value added to their higher-ups. The fact that you also understand this is just going to make their job that much easier.
Obligatory Final Question
In the same way that the interviewer almost religiously ends his or her spree of questions by asking “do you have any questions for me”, you’re likely going to end your Q&A with the same ol’ “can you tell me what the next steps are in the interview process.” Once you ask this question, it’s difficult, or at least a bit odd, to transition back into asking meaningful questions.
The reason asking about the next steps is valuable is not because it’s going to win you points, it’s really just about you knowing where you are in the process and what to expect moving forward.
Asking quality questions at the end of your interview is one of the most important parts of that interview. These questions will serve to:
- Give you the information you need to make an informed decision about working at this company
- Impress the interviewers with your knowledge and interest
- Get the interviewers to talk candidly with you about the job position
Asking insightful and meaningful questions to the interviewer will you the answers you need, and be a great way to show the interviewer that you’re intelligent and interested in the role. If you’re looking for more ways to improve your interview prep, be sure to check out the entire playlist of interview prep videos here.