Which questions should you ask in a job interview?

Congratulations! You’ve passed the first hurdle to switching roles and landed a job interview. Before you move forward with your potentially new position, you’ve got the opportunity to identify whether it meets your needs. Here’s how to do that.

In a job interview, it’s common for the interviewer to ask if you have any questions. You should always have a few meaningful questions prepared that will help you decide if this job is right for you.

There are three key areas you want to find out about before agreeing to work anywhere:

  1. Your role
  2. Your team
  3. The organisation

Ideally, an advertisement or job description will give you an overview of these three areas, but a job interview is the perfect opportunity for you to dig deeper and find out if this is really the right opportunity.

Before an interview, it’s a good idea to write down the questions you want to ask and bring that written list with you. That way, you won’t need to worry about forgetting questions, and you can focus on the interview itself.

Here are some examples of questions you should consider asking at your next job interview:

1. Your role

What would a normal day look like for me in this role?

While a job description might list all the things you could possibly do in that role, this question will give you an idea of the types of things you’ll be doing every day.

How would my performance be measured? Or: What would success look like for me in this role?

Understanding any Key Performance Measures (KPIs) or any other metrics of success will help you start a new role on the right foot. If it’s not clear what success looks like, that might be a red flag. How will you be successful in your role if no one really knows what success looks like?

What would my main priorities be in this role?

Most advertisements and job descriptions are pretty broad and capture a wide range of responsibilities. This type of question will help you identify what projects or goals you’ll be focused on, and what the priorities of the organisation are.

2. Your team

Can you tell me about the culture of the team I’ll be working in?

Cultural fit is an important factor when you’re finding a new job. In most roles, you’ll be spending a lot of time every day with the people in your team, so getting an understanding of the type of team you’ll be joining is a good idea.

Who will I report to? Or: Can you describe the management style of the person I would be reporting to?

The relationship you have with your manager is another important factor of success. If you can build a great working relationship, you’ll do better in your new role. If you have completely different ways of working and communicating together, it’ll be a little harder, and it might take longer to really get going. It’s also important to take some time to understand how you prefer to be managed, and if your needs are likely to be met in this role/organisation.

3. The organisation

What’s the vision for [company name] over the next five years? Or: What are the biggest obstacles/opportunities that [company name] is facing?

These questions will give you an idea of where the organisation is going, and how that might affect your role, if you’re successful. Think about whether the direction they’re moving inspires you or aligns with your interests or goals.

What opportunities are there for training and development?

If training and development is important to you, it’s a good idea to see how the organisation manages it.

What’s your favourite thing about working for [company name]?

Asking a generic question about the company culture is likely to get you an equally generic response like “We like to work hard and have fun”. Asking the interviewer about their experience can give you a bit more insight about what it’s really like.

Can you tell me about the company values?

This type of question will help you determine if the company’s values align with your values and what drives you. If you can find an organisation that prioritises what’s important to you, it’ll probably be more rewarding and engaging in the long run.

Questions to avoid asking

Try not to ask questions that show you haven’t done your research. Going into the interview, you should have an understanding of who the organisation is, and what they do.

Avoid asking awkward conversations around pay or benefits, but do some research on market rates and be prepared to talk about them. If the interviewer asks you questions about pay or benefits, be prepared to talk in ranges, rather than giving specific numbers. Those negotiations should only take place once an offer of employment has been made.

What’s next?

It’s important to set the stage for your move through the recruitment pipeline. You can do this by asking about next steps.

For example:

Is there anything else I could provide that would be helpful?

Is there anything about me or my application that concerns you?

What are the next steps moving forward?

Then, wrap up the interview with warmth and charm, and await their call-back. You’ve got this.