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!

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

  1. Thanks that was helpful, now i just need the interview. I remember years ago that they said not to talk to much and do not discuss your family and children. So i believe that your right about asking them questions.

    • Hi Karen, While you should avoid personal subjects, as an interviewee you definitely are in the right to ask relevant questions and engage with your interviewer. After all, you are evaluating them as much as they are evaluating you!

  2. Thank you so much for the information, However I wish that there was a way of getting more feed back from the interviewer as to why we did not get hired. That would help with the next interview so that you don’t make the same error.

    • Hi Estrella, Applying lessons from past interviews is a great way to improve! It wouldn’t be out of the question to follow-up with hiring managers to ask if they have any additional suggestions for you to help along the job search.

  3. Very impressed with the Do’s and Dont’s tips for an interview. I will share them with my daughters for future interviews.

  4. Hi Mason! While you can’t control people’s preferences, it’s never a bad idea to show your enthusiasm during an interview. As long as you’re doing so in a professional manner, it’s important to express your interest with energy.

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