What is the best question to ask an interviewer?
From questions about a past outstanding teammate to finding out if the company is a good fit, here are nine answers to the question, “What are the best questions to ask an interviewer?”
- Can You Tell Me More About X? From Pre-Interview Research
- Who is a Past Employee That Stood Out to You, and Why?
- What Are the Most Pressing Needs in the Next 30-60 Days?
- What Are the Best and Worst Things About Working Here?
- What Do You Like Most About This Department?
- Why Is This Position Open?
- What Social Activities Are You Organizing for the Team?
- Do You Have any Next Steps?
- Remember, Questions Are Not a One-Size-Fits-All
Can You Tell Me More About X? From Pre-Interview Research
As a recruiter, it surprised me how few candidates conduct pre-interview research. Employers want to hire smart, curious people that take initiative, so researching before your interview is crucial. Research the company, key players, recent news, culture and values, key clients, products and services, employee reviews, and the interviewers themselves.
Questions that reference your findings, like, “I’ve learned from my research that you are planning to expand into a new market. How do you expect the expansion to affect this role’s activities?” help to show you care about lessening risk by exploring potential risks and opportunities in the interview.
Who Is a Past Employee that Stood Out to You, and Why?
This is assuming someone has been in this role prior to your interview, and it’s not a newly created position. It’s a significant question if the employer has yearly internship programs as well.
Ask it early on because it can tell you a lot about what they are looking for and consider as success. Then, in future rounds, you can craft your answers to highlight similar skills, both hard and soft. You’ll also notice where you may have some gaps and can then focus on how to fill them for future opportunities.
What Are the Most Pressing Needs in the Next 30-60 Days?
The interview is a two-way process. Besides highlighting one’s strengths and value, it’s important that job seekers use the opportunity to assess whether this job is the right fit for them.
I like questions that can get at the heart of job duties, expectations, and culture. One of my favorites to ask an interviewer is “What are the most pressing needs/expectations of this job in the next 30-60 days?” The candidate can now weigh whether this sounds like the right type of role for them.
What Are the Best and Worst Things About Working Here?
Or “What is your favorite thing about working here, and what would you say is the most challenging thing about working here?” This question gives candidates a window into what the working experience is like at that company from an employee’s perspective. It helps to build an emotional connection with the interviewer because it gives them an opportunity to talk about themselves and share their views.
Moreover, it opens enough for the interviewer to elaborate while giving the candidate insight into the company. Candidates have shared some shocking responses to what interviewers say their worst / most challenging thing is—but it helps the candidate form a decision about whether they should be excited about the prospect of working in that company or reconsider the role because the interview is a two-way process. The interviewer needs to make the role and company attractive to the candidate, and the candidate needs to impress the interviewer.
What Do You Like Most About This Department?
“What do you like most about this department/organization/company, and what would you like to see change?” Remember that you should qualify a company as much as they are qualifying you to ensure it is a good fit and an environment that will enrich your career. This question can give you a bearing on the internal landscape of an organization and may reveal potential red flags.
You may also use the information provided in that response as a topic of conversation in your next round of interviews, where you can provide thoughtful ideas that may increase your candidacy. Use your discretion. In any case, leverage the insights from that question to help guide your decision-making.
Why Is This Position Open?
Why is this position open? This question gives you tremendous insights. There are two possible answers: either the position is newly created, or someone left. Nothing is wrong with either answer. Use follow-up questions to dig deeper. You can learn a lot about the business, the department, and the manager this way.
What Social Activities Are You Organizing for the Team?
This is an excellent question if you want to learn more about the company’s culture and how they offer team-building skills. They may organize socializing parties, sports, games, volunteering actions, and other events or activities. You can also ask how the team is bonding with the remote workers, especially if they live in different cities or countries.
Do You Have any Next Steps?
Have I answered your questions and given you enough information to feel confident to move me to the next steps in the interview process? Always ask this. It lets you know where you stand and if you fall short, a chance to get feedback on where to improve.
Remember, Questions Are Not a One-Size-Fits-All
The best question a candidate can ask is the one that will tell them, as an individual, whether this is a company and a role to which they want to devote their time and energy.
The interview is a two-way process, and the candidate’s question time is their opportunity to find out about what is truly important to them. Whether it be about values, culture, strategy, career progression, training, or flexibility; it doesn’t matter as long as it is an authentic question that will help them decide if they want the job. It’s not about what you think the interviewer wants to hear, it’s about what you need to find out.
Submit Your Answer
Would you like to submit an alternate answer to the question, What is the best question to ask an interviewer?