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9 good questions to ask in an interview

Interviews aren't just about giving the right answers—they're about asking the right questions.

9 good questions to ask in an interview

The landscape for job seekers today can be difficult. In other words, if you want a job today, the hard work starts when you prepare for the interview.

That means not just nailing the interview questions you are asked, but actually asking the kinds of questions designed to make the interviewer sit up and take notice. It’s no longer enough to be qualified. If you want a job in today’s business environment, you have to shine, and there’s no better way to show your excellence than by asking excellent questions. These questions could also help you avoid a bad boss before it's too late.

Don’t squander the opportunity to shine by asking mundane questions the interviewer has heard before. Your goal is to make a statement in the form of a question. The statement is designed to:

  • Highlight your qualifications.
  • Demonstrate your confidence.
  • Reinforce your commitment.
  • Understand the employer’s challenges.
  • Make yourself accountable.
  • Advance your candidacy.

Questions are the best way to demonstrate that you understand the company’s challenges, emphasize how you can help the company meet them and show your interest in the most unmistakable manner possible—by actually asking for the position.

What are good job interview questions to ask? Based on my interviews with dozens of recruiters, human resource professionals and job coaches, here are nine of the most memorable questions candidates can ask:

Interview questions to ask about the company

  • What exactly does this company value the most, and how do you think my work for you will further these values?
  • Can you give me some examples of the most and least desirable aspects of the company’s culture?
  • How does this company define and measure success?

Interview questions to ask about the job

  • What kinds of processes are in place to help me work collaboratively?
  • In what area could your team use a little polishing?
  • What’s the most important thing I can accomplish in the first 60 days?

Interview questions to ask the interviewer

  • How long have you been with the company?
  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • What makes you good at your job?

Bonus interview questions to ask  

  • How long is the average tenure of an employee?
  • Where would the company like to be in five years?
  • Am I going to be a mentor or will I be mentored?
  • How will you judge my success? What will have happened six months from now that will demonstrate that I have met your expectations?
  • This job sounds like something I’d really like to do—is there a fit here?
  • Now that we’ve talked about my qualifications and the job, do you have any concerns about my being successful in this position?
  • What is the next step in the hiring process?
  • When can I expect to hear back?
  • By when do you hope to make someone an offer?
  • When is the anticipated starting date for this position?
  • Whom should I reach out to if I have any further questions?

Use these questions as prototypes for questions based on the particulars of the position you are interviewing for. Make them your own and polish them until their shine reflects on you. Asking questions like these is not for the faint of heart but, then again, neither is succeeding in today’s hypercompetitive job market.

John Kador is the author of 301 Best Questions to Ask on Your Interview (McGraw-Hill, 2010) and more than 10 books. His other career books are The Manager's Book of Questions: 1001 Great Interview Questions for Hiring the Best Person and The Flawless Interview. Kador is a frequent speaker at job and college career fairs. He can be reached via email or on Twitter. His website is www.jkador.com.


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