Questions to Ask and Not Ask in Your Job Interview

Posted by in Career Advice

You’re applying for that plum admin job and the interview is going well.  You’re well prepared and you’ve answered all the questions with alacrity and skill.  Now comes the sticky part: The hiring manager turns the tables and asks you, “Do you have any questions you’d like to ask?”

This is not as easy as it sounds. The interviewer will be evaluating your questions as much as he or she weighed your answers at the start of the interview. So be prepared to ask some intelligent questions.  

First off, not asking questions is not a good idea. It shows a lack of interest in the company and the position. It also gives your competition (the hordes of candidates seeking the same plum job) a leg up, since you can bet many will have come prepared to ask all sorts of questions.

So what’s an intelligent question?  Some suggestions:

  • I read about your company’s growth plans, but I’d like your take on what part of the company will grow the most in the next five years?
  • I understand your division will be coming out with a new product (or service). Can you tell me how your division will be handling that?
  • What happened to the previous individual who held the position I’m applying for?
  • What were the strengths and weaknesses of that person?
  • What types of skill sets are you currently lacking in this department?
  • What are the career paths for this position?
  • How often have people been promoted from this position?
  • How will I be evaluated in this position?
  • What are the most important aspects of this job?
  • What are the most pressing challenges facing individuals hired for this position?
  • What are the next steps in the interview process?

Questions to stay away from include:

  • Tell me about your company’s benefits. This is not the time to ask about dental or vision plans, maternity leave, bonuses or sick leave, or if you can telecommute to save gas. 
  • Will I have to pass a drug test?  Let the interviewer bring this up. If you bring it up, it will make you sound like “employee ganga.”
  • Will I qualify for a discount on your product or service? This is a “what’s in it for me” question that makes you sound selfish. 
  • Do you check references? Assume they’ll contact every one of the references you listed. And some you didn’t. So be prepared. 
  • How long are lunch breaks? You’ll get one. The law says so. So leave it at that. 
  • So did I get the job? As casting directors tell their tryouts, “We’ll call you.”  

Remember, you’re being judged just as much by your questions at the end of the interview as by your initial response to the interviewer’s questions. So be cool and practice your questions in mock interviews with colleagues and people you trust.


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  • Janie Burris
    Janie Burris

    I do not think you should ask about the past employee

  • Katherine Thalacker
    Katherine Thalacker

    Very nice!

  • Susan W.
    Susan W.

    I feel like asking questions pertaining to the "next" job before you have even been offered this job might be seen as overly zealous and perhaps they might think- well this person isn't even interested in this job. The other questions were great. Thanks very much.

    Great to have some help on this subject.  thank you
  • Rebecca Rodriguez
    Rebecca Rodriguez
    We'll what's sad is that jobs like to judge people past
  • Mashele T
    Mashele T
    This was a very helpful website.  Thank you!
  • Colleen P
    Colleen P
    OMG!  I cant believe anyone would ask those questions in an interviw.  Things have really changed.  I know these tips are very helpful.
  • Frank D
    Frank D
    This information was very helpful and will improve my next interview. I will be better perpared.
  • Gia M
    Gia M
    I have a telephone interview schedule for tomorrow and this information will be very helpful.  Keep up the good work.  
  • Peter B
    Peter B
    The first 2 "intelligent questions" make you a kiss-ass, not an ambitious candidate. I wouldn't go for the profile of the previous jobholder either. The career path, performance and evaluation questions look good though.
  • Donald B
    Donald B
    I found this to be somewhat helpful; however, I had the impression that the 3rd and 4th questions were too personal and should not be asked. All the other questions should generate some useful information.
  • Sophie W
    Sophie W
    I agree with Jo Ann, sometimes the Interviewer covered everything, even the  questions that you had in mind, so what are you supposed to ask?
  • Ana R
    Ana R
    Thank you, very interesting and I'm  going to practice it for my interview
  • Tarun N
    Tarun N
    I don't exactly agree with this article. A friend of mine had asked all the intelligent questions for which the employer did not have any answers... The employer thought that he would out DO him someday and accordingly rejected his candidature.
  • Theresa B
    Theresa B
    Some points were okay and i was not confident on everything.Some employers might be intimidated by some of these questions. It all depends on the person who interviews you.
  • Tarun N
    Tarun N
    I don't exactly agree with this article. A friend of mine had asked all the intelligent questions for which the employer did not have any answers... The employer thought that he would outDO him someday and accordingly rejected his candidature.
  • Jo Ann L
    Jo Ann L
    Sometimes it is so hard to know what to say when the Interviewer has covered just about everything of the company and the position.
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