Do’s and Don’ts When Asking Questions in a Job Interview

Let’s face it, everyone loves to talk about themselves. There’s nothing more annoying than that friend who calls you to brag about what they’re up to, ask for advice, and then hang up without ever asking you about what’s going on with you. If you know the kind of person I’m talking about, you know you don’t want to resemble their lopsided conversational skills- especially during an interview. The best way to avoid it is by asking questions back to your interviewer when appropriate. Asking your interviewer questions not only gives them a chance to talk about themselves, but also can show your sincere interest in the company. However, asking the wrong questions could probably cost you the job.

So, what kind of questions should you ask and what kind should be avoided? That’s a great question. Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to interview questions:

Do: Ask what you’ll be doing more specifically.

“If offered the positon, what would an average day look like?”

“What are some of the biggest challenges this position requires?”

“What would some of my first projects be if offered the position?”

Asking specific questions about what you’re interviewing for will show that you have a genuine interest in the position and looking to learn more about it.

Don’t: Ask questions you should know the answer to.

“So, what does your company do?”

“Where are the headquarters/do you have other locations?”

“Who’s in charge here?”

Before an interview, you need to do your research. These questions along with many others are most likely explained on the company’s website, so don’t waste your interviewer’s time asking them. Instead, you can show that you did your research by asking a specific question about this information. For example, “Is your firm looking to expand into other services other than just personal injury representation?” shows your interviewer that you know what they do now, and you are interested in the future of the company.

Do: Show deeper interest in the company beyond just what they do.

“What’s the culture like?”

“How has the company grown in the past five years?”

“What do you think the company’s future looks like?”

“What’s the most challenging part about working for the company?”

Questions like this show that you’re interested in the success of the company, past and future. Many interviewers will love to talk to you about how the company has gotten to where they are today and what they’re focusing on going forward; these questions will probably make them more comfortable and interested in your interview.

Don’t: Ask about specific company policies for self-serving reasons.

“How much will I be getting paid?”

“Will I get a lot of vacation time?”

“What’re the added perks if I get the job?”

“What time do I have to be in in the morning?”

“Would my internet be monitored?”

 These questions do not show a genuine interest in the company itself, but rather show your interest in yourself and your benefits. When interviewing, you want to give the impression that you are interviewing with them because you believe in the company, not just that you need a job with the best benefits. While many of these questions are important, it’s best to save them for after you’re offered a position and before you accept.

Do: Ask about your interviewer.

“How did you get started here?”

“What’s your favorite thing about the company?”

“What’s your favorite part about your position specifically?”

As stated earlier, everyone enjoys and feels comfortable talking about themselves. Asking your interviewer these questions will help you both relax, improve the flow of the conversation, and make the experience more enjoyable for both of you.

Don’t: Bombard them with a list of questions.

While asking questions is definitely the way to go during an interview, you don’t want to list off a ton of questions just for the sake of asking questions. If the conversation is going well and the interviewer is continuing it along, go along with it. If he/she seems to be trying to wrap up, or if asking more questions feels forced, say thank you and finish your interview. A good rule of thumb is to show up to the interview with four to five prepared questions with anticipation of asking two of them. Sometimes they will answer all the questions you bring during the actual interview, which is why you should show up prepared with back-up questions just in case. If the conversation leads you to asking multiple questions, that’s okay too. There is no “sweet spot” number of questions that’s the best for an interview because every interview is different, just make sure you ask some questions to show your interest and follow the flow of the conversation!

Interviews are tough. Every component seems to have unwritten rules, and your response to being asked “Do you have any questions?” is no exception. Show up prepared, ask the right questions, let your interviewer talk, and follow the flow of the conversation. It’s your last chance to impress them before you leave, so make sure to go out on a good note!

What kind of questions do you like to ask in an interview? Let us know in the comments!

34 thoughts on “Do’s and Don’ts When Asking Questions in a Job Interview

  1. Me parece excelente los consejos que han dado para la entrevista. Me han sido útiles. Por eso cuando vaya a una entrevista preguntaría: cuál sería mi primer proyecto para ayudar al crecimiento de la empresa? Cuáles serán mis mayores desafíos si me diera el puesto? Y cuando debo comenzar a trabajar en esta compañía y serles de ayuda?

    • Hi Dionne, happy to help! There’s really no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to the number of questions you can or should ask during an interview. Always be prepared with a few (3-5) before the interview, but be ready to adapt based on your conversation; you make need to ask one, you may have additional follow-up questions. The important thing is to show your excitement for the role and that you’ve done research beyond the job listing.

  2. If interviewing with the Hiring Manager, I always ask, “what are YOUR expectations of the “job title”? Most recently, the HM’s response exposed a different job description and his “preferred” job title for the position. Great insight and offered the opportunity to briefly respond with a few KSAs and pertinent experience, emphasizing a “great fit”. Per usual, asked selection process timeframe. Received a response of 2-3 weeks and we’re on week 5.

  3. This is just what I needed after an interview I had today! I didn’t really know what to ask my interviewer and this definately helps a lot thank you!

  4. Great article! I may ask:

    -how many positions are you looking to fill?
    -How many other applicants are being considered for this position?
    -when are you seeking to have the position filled?
    -what are the next steps on the process?

  5. The article was insightful…I thought I asked good questions before, but this definitely gave me more to consider.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Mary, that can be a tricky one! Researching a company can help you craft a personalized response; what about the company culture and the job itself connects to your passion and career path?

  6. Hello,
    I want to thank you for this remarkable article.
    I was interviewed previously; however, I wasn’t prepared to ask the right questions to my interviewers. I was kind of shy and I didn’t know what were the appropriate questions to ask.
    Going through this paper was very helpful since it enlightens the right words to say when being interview and also the ones to avoid. I know now how to better prepare myself for future interviews.
    Thank you again, I learn a lot reading this paper.

  7. Your article is spot on! When I had my photography business and I met a prospective client, I learned the value of eye contact, asking the right client focused questions and stating benefits. Many times the client complimented me by saying, “we like how you are really interested in us. So many other photographers we’ve seen weren’t.”
    So, yes, the value of good questions and the benefits you can offer the employer does set you apart from the rest of pack.

  8. Hi Andrew,
    Here is my dilemma, I have used do’s approach and received a rejection email. I have been out of work for 2.5 years due to personal reasons. I am 51 and have approximately 30 years accounting experience. I have been called for many second interview and still rejected. I have no business references. I also have problems answering where you see your in 5 years? I really unsure how to answer do to my age. Do you have any advice to help me over this hurdle.
    Thank you for your valuable time and have a nice day. ☺

    • Hi Tess, the most important thing is to be upfront and honest about your career path and experience. Remember: skills development and experience can be gained through much more than just work alone. Be sure to include any education, charity work or other opportunities you’ve taken on recently.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>