You’re sitting under the florescent lights of an unfamiliar conference room across from the person who may decide the fate of your job search, trying desperately to remember that perfect story you prepared and wondering if the AC is always set to “arctic blast.” Or maybe you’re at home in front of the most professional wall in your apartment, looking at your interviewer on a computer screen and hoping your camera won’t shift and reveal the stack of empty La Croix cans you forgot to move before the Zoom call started.
Then, the hiring manager asks the interview question you know is a signal that things are about to wrap up: “Do you have any questions for me?”
No matter how much power you might feel like employers hold in the situation, a job interview isn’t just a chance for the hiring manager to grill you—it’s your opportunity to sniff out whether a position would be as great for you as you would be for the position. So it’s vital to ask some questions of your own. What do you want to know about the role? The company? The department? The team? The person interviewing you who may be your future boss, coworker, or mid-afternoon coffee buddy?
To get you thinking, we’ve put together a list of the best questions to ask in an interview. We definitely don’t suggest asking all of them rapid-fire—some of this stuff will be covered during the course of your discussion, and you’ll have specific questions about any given job or workplace.
So this list isn’t the be-all and end-all—it’s your jumping off point.
Top tips for asking an employer questions in a job interview
Before we get to the list, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
- Don’t say you have no questions. You probably already know that whether you’re stressed or relaxed, whether you think you’ve fumbled the conversation badly or you’ve got this job in the bag, the worst thing you could say is, “Nope, I’m good.”
- Be flexible. It’s OK (and encouraged) to jot down a few questions ahead of your interview, but don’t be afraid to deviate from the list if your questions have already been answered and/or if your discussion prompts a few more questions you’d like answered. Plus, you don’t want to sound like you’re reading the questions off some sort of internet list rather than having a real conversation.
- Ask at least a few specific questions. Show you’re invested and you’ve been paying attention throughout the interview process by customizing your questions to the specific position and company—and reminding your interviewers of the background knowledge and experience you bring to the role.
- Don’t just ask questions at the end. Interviews work best when they’re a conversation, so don’t be afraid to pose questions when it makes sense throughout the conversation.
- Ask questions you really want to know the answers to. Don’t only ask questions you think will impress your interviewer. With a few exceptions (which we’ll cover) this is your chance to ask about the topics you’re really curious about—and will affect whether you even want the job. Maybe a project that really excited you when you read the job description hasn’t come up during the interview. Perhaps it’s not clear to you what the job actually entails, and you want to ask what a typical day looks like.
Best questions to ask about the job
Make sure you have a handle on exactly what the day-to-day responsibilities of the job will be—both now and in the future. This will help you make an informed decision if and when that job offer comes and avoid Shift Shock or a toxic workplace.
- What does a typical day or week look like in this role? (Or one of these alternatives.)
- What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed?
- Can you show me examples of projects I’d be working on?
- What are the skills and experiences you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?
- What attributes does someone need to have in order to be really successful in this position?
- What types of skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
- What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?
- What sort of budget would I be working with?
- Is this a new role or will I be taking over for an employee who’s leaving?
- How does this position contribute to the company overall?
- Do you expect the main responsibilities for this position to change in the next six months to a year?
Top questions to ask about training and professional development
Think of each new opportunity not just as a job, but as the next step on your path to career success. Will this position help you get there?
- What does your onboarding process look like?
- What learning and professional development opportunities are available to your employees?
- Will there be opportunities for stretch assignments where I can learn and use new skills?
- Are there opportunities for advancement within the company?
- Would I be able to represent the company at industry conferences?
- Where have successful employees previously in this position progressed to?
Common questions to ask about how your success will be evaluated
Understanding how your potential new manager will measure your success is key to understanding their managerial style as well as company or team priorities.
- What are the most important things you’d like to see someone accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job?
- What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months?
- What is the performance review process like here? How often would I be formally reviewed?
- What metrics or goals will my performance be evaluated against?
Smart questions to ask about the interviewer
Asking these questions shows that you’re interested in your interviewer as a person—and that’s a great way to build rapport with a future colleague.
- How long have you been with the company?
- Has your role changed since you’ve been here?
- What did you do before this?
- Why did you come to this company?
- What’s your favorite part about working here?
- What’s one challenge you occasionally or regularly face in your job?
- What part of your job are you most excited about over the next few months?
- Are there any upcoming initiatives or projects you’re especially interested in?
Best questions to ask about the company
Why not learn a little bit about where you might work? A job isn’t just about your day-to-day to-do list. You’ll likely be happier with an employer that shares similar values to yours and is headed in a direction you’re on board with.
- I’ve read about the company’s founding, but can you tell me more about [another significant company development] ?
- What direction do you see this company heading in over the next few years?
- What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?
- What are the current goals that the company is focused on, and how does this team work to support hitting those goals?
- What gets you most excited about the company’s future?
- What are the company’s most important values? (Note: Make sure this isn’t easily Google-able!)
- How does the company ensure it’s upholding its values?
Smart questions to ask about the team
The people you work with day in and day out can really make or break your work life. Ask some questions to uncover whether it’s the right team for you.
- Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
- Who will I work with most closely?
- Who will I report to directly?
- Can you tell me about my direct reports?
- What are the team’s biggest strengths and challenges?
- Do you expect to hire more people in this department in the next six months?
- Which other departments work most closely with this one and how?
Creative questions to ask about the culture
You don’t want to end up at a workplace where all socialization happens at happy hour if you don’t drink or you need to get home to your kids, or where everyone is focused solely on their own work if you thrive in a collaborative environment, for example. So make sure you ask about what’s important to you when it comes to company culture.
- How would you describe the work environment here—is the work typically more collaborative or more independent?
- How does the team form and maintain strong bonds?
- Can you tell me about the last company event you did together?
- What’s your favorite office tradition?
- What do you and the team usually do for lunch?
- Does anyone at the company or on this team hang out outside the office?
- Do you ever do joint events with other companies or departments?
- What’s different about working here than anywhere else you’ve worked?
- How has the company changed since you joined?
- How has the organization overcome challenges with remote work?
- How does the company make sure that remote and hybrid employees are given the same opportunities and standards as in-office employees?
Best questions to ask about next steps
Before you leave, make sure the interviewer has all the information they need and that you’re clear on what you can expect going forward. (Just don’t make this the very first thing you ask when they kick it to you!)
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- Is there anything else I can provide you with that would be helpful?
- Can I answer any final questions for you?
Questions to avoid asking in your job interview
While you want to make sure you have all the info you’d need before taking a job, some questions are better asked after you’ve gotten an offer, once you’ve started working, or never.
- What does [Company] do exactly? (Or anything that shows you haven’t done your research.)
- When does my PTO kick in?
- Can I take every Monday off during football season?
- Just how much is the monthly childcare allowance?
- How “sensitive” are the people working here? Can they take a joke?
- When do I start? (Or anything that comes across as presumptuous or cocky.)
More questions to ask
Looking for even more questions or types of questions to ask in your next interview or questions that’ll work in different situations? Check out these articles for:
- Questions to ask in every interview round
- Questions to ask in an interview for a remote position
- Questions to ask if you want to learn more about the company
- Questions to ask if you want real, honest answers
- Questions to ask if the interview isn’t going as well as you’d hoped
- Questions to ask if you’re trying to avoid a toxic boss
- Questions to ask if you’re looking for an inclusive workplace
- Questions to ask in an informational interview
- Questions to ask in an internship interview
- Questions to ask in a tech job interview
- Questions to ask in a software engineering interview
- Questions to ask if you want to learn about a company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic
Regina Borsellino also contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.