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Written by Lyndsey McLaughlinLyndsey McLaughlin

How to successfully ask questions in an interview

10 min read
How to successfully ask questions in an interview
Artwork by:Arina Kokoreva
Interviews are a chance for candidates to gain valuable insight into a role before they accept the job offer. Here are some of the best questions to ask and how to work them into the interview.

Interviewers are primarily about the interviewer finding out about you, what you can offer the company and your reasons for applying. However, you need to also be prepared for the inevitable “Do you have any questions for us?”

There are two main reasons why you are asked this question during a job interview. Firstly, the interviewer wants to find out how prepared and curious you are about the role and the company. Secondly, they want to give you an opportunity to find out if the job is right for you. Interviews are a two-way street. It is as much about you, as the candidate, finding out if it’s the right fit, as it is for the hiring manager. In this case, you need to have good questions to ask in an interview.

This question can leave candidates a little stumped, but you should always have some questions up your sleeve, in case this pops up. In this blog, we will look at:

  • The best questions to ask in an interview
  • What not to ask during the interview
  • How to follow up with questions after an interview
Expert tip

Memorise a few questions to ask in an interview. You shouldn’t ask more than three though, as it might start to annoy the interviewer, who probably wants to wrap up the interview.

What questions should I ask at the end of an interview?

The main point to remember when asking questions during an interview is that they should be positive questions. The hiring manager wants to gain an understanding of your desire for the role, and they expect you to ask a question that shows you are inquisitive about the company. Remember, this is also the opportunity for you to find out if it is right for you too. These are some of the best questions to ask in an interview.

What opportunities are there for development within the company?

It is a good idea to ask questions about development as it shows your desire to work in the company long-term, and to progress. It shows you are not the type of person that wants to remain static. You want to grow and prosper within the company. This is one of the good questions to ask in an interview.

What is the culture of the organisation?

It is really important to ask about the culture before you accept a job offer. The role might be exactly what you want, but if the culture isn’t right for you, you will probably be miserable. For example, if you are looking for flexible working and a strong work-life balance, and the interviewer tells you that “no one leaves on time, we all tend to work until much later”, it is probably not going to be the right fit. 

Can you tell me about the future goals of the company?

Asking questions about the future of the company shows a genuine interest and as you would expect, interviewers love when candidates are intrigued about where the company is going.

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What are the expectations of someone within this role?

With this question, you will get a good indication of whether you have the right attributes for the role. It also shows the interviewer that you are keen to understand what you can do to meet the needs of the role.

If I were in this job, what are some of the challenges I could expect?

Asking this question shows that you are not just interested in the ‘nice’ aspects of the role. You want to get a full understanding of the complexities you may face and this will tell the interviewers a lot about your character. It also allows you to understand a bit more about, so you go into the job with your eyes wide open. You can use this as one of the good questions to ask in an interview

I read that you are expanding in several other countries, can you tell me a bit more about that and when this is expected?

It is good to ask a question that also shows that you have read up about the company. These questions not only enhance your knowledge, but show you have conducted some research.

Expert tip

You should always conduct some research about the company in preparation for the interview. Typically, the size of the company, industries it operates, competitors and any recent news. If, for instance, they have just been taken over by another firm and you have no idea, this might show a lack of interest

How many people are you interviewing for the role?

It can be good to know how many people are being invited for an interview, so you can manage your own expectations.

What not to ask at the end of an interview

Although you have pretty much free reign to ask what you want, there are some questions you should try and avoid. These are some interview questions that may inadvertently turn off the interviewer.

What is the salary?

On the surface, it seems like a pretty standard question to ask, right? However, this is really not the time to start talking about salary. You should have an understanding of the salary scale at least before you attend the interview, otherwise it may be a complete waste of everyone's time. You can go into more detail about the salary negotiations if you are offered the job.

Will I need to work after 5pm?

Even if you are keen to work in a flexible environment, you should never make it seem that you are concerned about doing more than your standard hours. It is one way to put off any prospective employer!

You seem to have quite bad reviews on Google, do you have any insight into why this may be?

Of course, questions like this will never go down well with a future employer. You should never ask questions that reflect badly on the reputation of the company.

I read that you went to Manchester University. I went there too, did you enjoy it?

Although well intended, this could come across like you have been stalking the interviewer. It is good to build rapport, but try to avoid anything that might suggest you’ve been digging into the background of the interviewer. It may make them feel uncomfortable.

Do
  • Ask questions that show you conducted research
  • Ensure your questions are positive. Stay away from negative language.
  • Show your enthusiasm for progression with the company.
Don't
  • Ask questions that come across as too personal
  • Discuss salary and benefits. You can ask these questions if you are offered the role.
  • Ask questions that suggest you might not be very flexible.
  • How to follow up with questions after an interview

How to follow up with questions after an interview

It is inevitable that you will be on your way home, when a great question pops into your head that you would love to have asked the interviewer. If this happens, you can always follow up with the interviewer after the interview. It is best to email them with your question so you don’t catch them on the hop. Here is a sample email you might want to adapt with your own question(s).

Example

Dear Karen,

Thanks so much for the interview on Friday. I really enjoyed meeting you and Chris and learning more about the opportunity and company.

I hope you don’t mind the follow-up, but I had a question that came to me on my way home from the interview. Would you mind letting me know more about the timeline of the hiring process and whether there may be additional interviews?

Again, thank you for the opportunity to discuss how my experience may align with (Company Name)’s goals.

Regards,

Simon

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How to successfully ask questions in an interview
Related article
How to successfully ask questions in an interview

Interviews are a chance for candidates to gain valuable insight into a role before they accept the job offer. Here are some of the best questions to ask and how to work them into the interview.

Key takeaways

  • Make sure you have a few questions to ask the interviewer. Up to three questions is sufficient to ask. You can use our good questions to ask in an interview.
  • Keep all questions positive and make sure they reflect your desire to work for the company and interest in being there for the foreseeable future
  • Don’t be afraid to follow up if you think of other desirable questions.
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