How to prepare questions for your interview

The purpose of an interview isn’t just for the company to see whether you’re a good fit for them — it’s also to make sure the company is a good fit for you.

That’s why you should always prepare questions to ask in an interview. While it’s likely that questions will come up naturally during the conversation, you will want to have a list ready for the end of the interview just in case.

Career counselors recommend that each question on your list serves at least one of three purposes:

  1. To confirm the job is a good fit for you.
  2. To demonstrate your drive and passion for the position.
  3. To uncover and overcome any doubts your interviewer may have about you.

As you brainstorm potential questions, consider topics like company culture, work environment, expectations and growth opportunities.

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How many questions should you ask during your interview?

If you don’t have any questions to ask at the end of your interview, you may look disinterested and unprepared.

Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes. What would impress you more: a candidate who doesn’t want to know anything about the company or role, or one who confidently slides out a prepared list of insightful questions?

Recruiting experts recommend choosing your number of questions based on the stage of the application process. For example, you wouldn’t want to unleash a fire hose of questions during an initial phone screening. During preliminary stages, limit yourself to five questions max.

If you have more, save them for later interviews. During in-person interviews, shoot for a minimum of two or three questions. It’s useful to have several backup questions ready and listed in order of importance.

During your final interview, it’s about quality over quantity. One dumb question is one question too many. But if you have insightful questions that serve a specific purpose, don’t limit yourself.

7 questions to ask at the end of an interview

1. What objectives do you expect the person in this position to achieve in the first six months?

Job descriptions cover general requirements, but they don’t usually get into the nitty-gritty. By uncovering what a company is hoping to achieve, you can show how you’re equipped to accomplish those specific goals.

2. Is this a new role, or did it recently open up?

There are two reasons companies hire: for growth or because someone has left a position. If the company is hiring because someone left, dig deeper. How long were they in the position? Did they get promoted? The answer could offer you important insights into the position, including potential red flags.

3. Is there anything that makes you doubt my ability to take on this role?

This question takes guts. But if you can handle a bit of criticism, it’s an opportunity to speak to whatever may be making your interviewer hesitant. It’s similar to a sales meeting — the more objections you can snuff out on the spot, the more likely you are to close the deal. Even if you aren’t hired, you’ll leave knowing how to improve for your next interview.

4. What growth opportunities are available?

Good employees want to keep growing. Good employers want their employees to keep growing. If the company supports professional development, asking this question shows that your goals align. If you discover the role has limited growth opportunities, it’s good to know now, before accepting the job.

5. How is extra workflow managed?

This question may help you determine whether the company respects work-life boundaries. Most businesses have never-ending to-do lists, which tend to leak beyond normal work hours. If there is extra work to do, will your boss expect you to work long hours or make yourself available from home? If their policies and expectations don’t align with your vision, it might not be a good fit.

6. In what ways would you gauge my success, and how could I exceed your expectations?

Clarifying expectations can help you decide if you’re up for the job. It also shows your interviewer how serious you are about helping the company. Asking this question indicates that you’re not content to simply meet the status quo and collect your paycheck.

7. How did you come to work for the company?

If all of your questions were covered during the interview, this is a clever backup option. People love talking about themselves, so getting your interviewer to share their story can make your time together seem more enjoyable and memorable for them.

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What not to ask during an interview

Asking the wrong questions at the end of an interview might leave a bad impression. Experts recommend that you never ask questions about:

  • Easy-to-find information. Asking questions you could find with a quick Google search shows you don’t respect your interviewer’s time.
  • Background checks. If you ask about the company’s background checks or drug-testing policies, you’re guaranteed to look suspicious.
  • Overly personal information. You want your interviewers to like you. Don’t pry into personal matters and make them feel uncomfortable.

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About the Author

Mitchell Glass

Mitchell Glass

Freelance Contributor

Mitchell is a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.com.

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