5 Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

One of the key parts on any interview is when the interviewer asks the interviewee if they have any questions. Many jobseekers are never sure how much detail to go into at this stage and it’s not always easy to strike a balance – ask too many questions and it can seem presumptive but ask too few and it can give the impression that you’re not interested in the role.

Yet the key to doing well at interview isn’t always just giving good answers…sometimes it’s about asking good questions too!

You won’t always get the opportunity to ask as many questions as you answer so it’s just as well to have some prepared. You may well be looking for some clarity around the company’s business or structure, and any logistical issues you see around the role, but to give yourself the best chance to success you’ll need to get answers to these questions:

Why is the role open?

Is this a newly created position or has someone left or been promoted? If it’s new you’ll probably want to find out more about why it’s been created and what expectations the company have for the role. If the previous incumbent has left you may want to find out why.

What challenges does the interviewer see in the role?

You should always try to get the person interviewing you to talk about challenges, not problems. It shows that you are looking positively at the role! Some challenges may be structural from within the business, some may be to do with skills or capabilities and others arising from expectations. You need to know which if you are to succeed.

What are the company’s expectations?

If these haven’t been covered in the previous answer then ask directly. You want to know where the company see the role going, and also how they see the successful candidate developing. Careful how you ask this as you don’t want it to look like you may well reject them…use it as an opportunity to find out more about how the company sees the role and what success looks like.

What will the priorities be?

If something’s going to go wrong in a new job it will invariably happen in the first three months. You need to really understand what your immediate priorities will be. You also need to try to get an understanding of the company’s on boarding process and, if it’s a new position, what kind of support you can expect.

Are you the right person?

If the interview’s going well then this is the one you’ll really want to know the answer to! Particularly if there are areas where you don’t match the spec and you can do something about it whilst you’re in the interview. Be careful how you ask it though. If you are too direct – as in ‘do you think I’m a good fit for the job?’ – then there is a chance that you may get a vague answer. You need to show your interest in the role and ask if there are any reasons stopping you from being considered. Hopefully there won’t be, but if there are then you want the opportunity show the interviewer that you are more than capable of meeting the criteria!

  • http://twitter.com/CNCJobs CNCJobs.Org.UK

    These are 5 great questions.

    Candidates should always go to an interview armed with questions about the position and evidence of why they’re the right person for the job.


  • http://www.itrecruitmentagency.co.uk/ IT Recruitment Agency

    Asking the salary is never a good one for candidates to ask!

    Some good questions here, also one which when appropriate is to ask the interviewer “What do you enjoy most about working here?”

    • Amlbos

      Exactly, an interview could (and should) be a two way process, it’s not just your fit to the role that’s important longer term, but the company ‘fit’ to you.  Great question

  • Adele007

    I have asked questions in the past where the interviewer didn’t even know the answer!  What a joke they were!

  • Alan

    A Housing association interview with a panel of five persons, I was asked to submit the meaning of abreviations by a person who had been to university who did not know A from B.  I responded to all and even the rest of the panel did not ask any significant question beneficial to the Vacancy.  They class themselves as management, it’s a disgrace: 

    • Tonny

       Hello Alan,

      I think they already had a candidate and just had to go through the motions and make it look like they where giving others, like you, a chance to get the job.

      Sad but realistic.

      • Chris Garbutt

        Yea, I think this happens especially with government jobs.

  • Williams Abode

    I went for an interview at a medical software house – the interviewer asked how long it would take for me to learn the package well enough to teach it - even though none of the candidates had ever seen it. No matter what answer I could give there was no way it could be proved until I was hired and got to grips with it. I have laughed at that question for the last six years. BTW – I said two weeks if I was given a manual and I got the job. It was so complex it actually took six months. The interviewer did not know the package at all.

  • johhny

    “Candidates should always go to an interview armed with questions about the position and evidence of why they’re the right person for the job.”

    Possibly but i’ve interviewed in the past and asked questions “what would you do if this person came and needed this piece of software installed yesterday what would you do.”
    (we are talking 60-120 machines here as it is an education environment)

    they gave me a detailed explanation of active directory group policy and software installation which actually was technically incorrect in several places, but they missed the point of the question completely I was more interested in whether they would cave in under pressure and rollout an untested piece of software (Group Policy the worst for this btw, app-v would be better) or whether they would question the persons expectations and the risk of distruption to the greater network/other pieces of software

    • BigC

      To be fair, I can understand their confusion- from how you said it there you made no mention of it being an untested piece of software/there being other constraints on time/resources etc- it does actually sound like you’re asking how they would go about it, not if they would…

  • Anna Fergusson

    Would you ask about pay and hours etc. The sector that I am qualified to work in is notoriously badly paid. so surely the fact that that you are asking about pay would answer if you could afford to be applying for the job in the first place. What about conditions as well? I suffer from Aspergers Syndrome and find job interviews really nerve racking. Are there any organisations that can help me?

    • Chris Garbutt

      It is no problem. I would always ask what the “pay range” for the job is and what the typical hours are. After all this is very important.
      Never assume anything and always ask for clarification if you have any doubt. This also shows them that you have good attention to detail.
      You should emphasize to them any relevant qualities and experience that you have that would put you at the higher end of their pay range.
      Everyone finds interviews nerve racking, but the more practice you get, the easier it will be. I suggest you practice with someone if you can.
      If you can’t find anyone handy you could try getting in contact with the national careers service, explain to them your situation and ask them if it were possible for them to give you a practice phone interview or book a face to face interview (I haven’t tried this it is only an idea). Their number is 0800 100 900, website: https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/getajob/interviews

    • Mark

      Never ask about salary/wages at a first interview, It gives off the wrong impression. You usually get an idea with a job advert how much is on offer but it is something that will be discussed in due course, usually when an offer is made

  • busterrabbit

    Most interviewers these days are HR professionals, in other words the criteria that apply to real, operational positions, such as efficiency don’t apply. They usually know virtually nothing about the day to day activity of any other role within the busines, have never worked to targets and will have litttle idea if you can do the day job or not. They rely on bought in psychometric tests to profile candidates and use the usual disingenuous always positive buzzwords like “challenges” when they should use “problems”.
    As a case in point just take a look at your own job description. Do you recognise your own job from it, I doubt it. Just like a menu in an expensive restaurant, real descriptions are shunned for more expensive, more elaborate terminology to make it sound better than it actually is. Unlike the restaurant, which will charge much more for the “fancy” food, it’s doubtful the salary is also inflated to reflect the wonderfully wordy job decription.
    Business, like life, isn’t a pink and fluffy place where everything always runs smoothly, there are problems and everyone (except HR) has to justify their existence financially in an increasingly worsening financial climate.
    Of course HR come into their own when it comes to dismissing people, sorry, downsizing, restructuring, making efficency improvements, streamlining.

    • Steven

      So positive, that was better than a Coach Carter speech…

  • Mr J

    As far as questions go it can depend on the interview, though I have 1 biggy I ask especially when it is an interview panel as opposed to an individual, which usually stumps them…..
    Could you please describe to me your ideal candidate for this role, this normally results in a sea of blank faces and nervous glances at each other.

    Another technique I have used to good effect is at the start of an interview, to open an executive folder I have containing a notepad and pen. On the pad is what appears to be a number of questions.
    During the interview I take notes and occasionally tick/cross through the scribblings at the top of the page.
    At the end of the interview when the inevitable ‘do you have any questions’ comes up, I merely say. I did have some questions prepared however you have answered these for me already. My pen actions during the interview being evidence of this.
    I have had feedback saying this gave an impression of being well prepared and interested in the role,

  • kelly.

    I am currently a active job seeker, my last job was when i was 21 as i had a child but now a mother of four, And i would have to work round the four children. I would love a job so much, as i am really wanting a job that bad that i am applying for some i have no experience in, i do get very nurvous as i am applying for them because i never know what to say in interviews. I do get angry with the fact most jobs i have applyed for is all computerised and turns you down straight, although i do understand that its quicker for most companys to have this in place,what if like me i am a hard working person or should i say was a hard working person, i enjoy working, i enjoy the fact that i was at work, yet i cannot get a job, i feel most employees are going for the younger modle of people,or they would like experienced people,how am i to do this if no employee is willing to give single mums like me that want to work a chance to prove they can work. I am scared of the fact that i may never find a job because i am scrutanised because i am a mum and can’t afford to work, should i stop looking now? what would that show my children then? that because mum don’t work then we don’t have to? i do not what that for my children and should no other parent. i want them to all find a good job as i want the same for myself, we are struggling as the town i live in is small and lots of businesses have closed down, which dont help me and others.

    • Niall Reece Gooding

      If you haven’t already go to the Job centre and any other local organisations that offer career help and advice – many will offer courses and guidance from CV and cover letter writing to interview techniques, often face to face with actual employers so you get to see what they are looking for. The better you learn to sell yourself the greater your chances will be. My mum was unemployed for three years with no qualifications but a beastly work ethic and copious amounts of experience. She managed to find a job at 50. So don’t lose hope, because you can get there.

  • notreallydavid .

    ‘The company’s on boarding process’ – God, I loathe and despise business English. And where’s the hyphen?