Impressive Questions to Ask an Interviewer

Interviewing for a job is a drag, but I’ve always had a bit of a knack for it.  Until I started looking for full-time, non-contract jobs, I had gotten a job, internship, or graduate school offer after every single interview I did.  It’s a decent track record, if I do say so myself.[i]  One of my interview weaknesses, though, is that I never have questions for my interviewer.  I found this lovely list on Pinterest and thought it should definitely be shared.

As always, I’ve added comments.

  1. Can you describe a typical day in this type of role?  This is so important, and I know this from firsthand experience.  I didn’t ask this question before I started my current job, because I was somehow taken aback by having to interact with the students day in and day out.  Obviously, I’ve grown accustomed to it, and it has improved my communication skills in general.  But would I have felt differently about the job if I had asked this question and told that answer?  Maybe.
  2. How long have you been at the company and what makes you stay?  Also one I wish I had asked at my interview for my current job, simply because it would have clued me into the union culture.  I hate being a part of the union, mostly because of the dues they take out of every single paycheck.  But that’s a different story.  I may have learned how long my management and coworkers have been here, though, and that they likely stay because it’s the cushiest job they’ll ever find.  Again, would it have changed my mind?  Probably not.  I am taking Master’s Degree classes, after all, and I can work on that while I work.
  3. How would you describe the work environment and corporate culture?  This is a great question.  It would be good to know if you were going into a stressful environment, or a more laid-back one.  And you may prefer one over the other, or be used to one over the other.  In any case, it’s something good to know.  Plus, it might be nice to know if people like each other at the company, if they hang out at lunch or go to happy hour together.  This question could definitely give some clues as to whether or not you’ll enjoy the job, should you get an offer.
  4. What are some of the goals for the company in the short and longer term?  Is the company growing?  Is the scope of the business expanding?  Or are they “restructuring,” and laying off people in other departments?  Where is the company going?  These are all really good things to know before you join a company.
  5. How would my performance be measured?  I recently interviewed for a job where I was to start on a sales floor and move up at certain milestones.  But they wouldn’t say specifically what those milestones were!  That was an immediate red flag for me, because I am analytical by training – I don’t do as well when my performance is measured subjectively, versus in a way that I can see and understand.  So this would be an important question for me, personally.
  6. What types of career opportunities may open up down the road for a person starting out in this type of position, assuming they perform well?  Another question I wish I had asked, because I know I would have felt differently had I known there was absolutely no opportunity to advance here.  But, it has turned out just fine.  That Master’s Degree is going to open the doors for me.
  7. What are some of the company’s initiatives regarding learning and development?  I am a firm believer that a person should never stop learning.  If there is new technology in your field, you should know if your company is going to encourage you to learn it.  If you are on the track for a managerial position, it would be nice to know the company would support you in developing those skills.  For example, in K’s job, she gets a specific number of hours to study for her certification exams, as determined by her company.  Which is pretty awesome, when you think about it.

What I like about these questions is that none of them are asking about your personal benefits or pay scale.  It’s all about the company, and what it has to offer to you.  And I love that.  Do you have any questions that you like to ask employers?


[i] Obviously, that changed when I needed a real job, like, with benefits and what not.  But now I have a retirement fund, and I guess that’s pretty sweet.


One thought on “Impressive Questions to Ask an Interviewer

  1. Great list! I’m glad you shared this. I think this is one of the biggest things I was not prepared for as I got out into life. Luckily I haven’t had to do many real interviews for real jobs, but I felt lost and confused in the ones I did do (not counting grad school but that’s a different beast). Why is this stuff never taught in school? Isn’t school supposed to prepare you for life? I think there needs to be a “life prep” course in college (maybe even major specific) that should go over things like interviewing, working in the field, etc. because I feel like most people are clueless unless their parents really helped them out.

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