Interview Tips For When Someone Asks, "What Questions Do You Have For Us?"

When the interviewer asks if you have any questions for them, it's your opportunity to show them how much insight, moxie, and knowledge you have stored up. Here's your playbook.

"When a potential employer asks if you have any questions, they don’t want inquiries about parking validation," writes Kelly Gregorio for Brazen Careerist, "they want to see if you’re prepared, educated, and inquisitive."

Interviewers are probably—not unlike a date—sizing you up to see if you're compatible with them (and maybe even the company). Part of the weirdo company courting process is when you, the interviewee, get to ask questions. Keep these in your quiver:

If I started tomorrow, what's the first project you'd want me to tackle?

Beyond showing how you'd hit the ground running—and helping the interviewer to picture you doing so—this question will preview what the working state of the gig is like.

What are the must-have personality traits for this position?

This question will help you further fill in your forecast: Self-starting might mean you have little guidance; collaborative may mean you'll be mired in meetings. Also, Gregorio notes, ask this will help the interviewer crack his or her robo-scanning and see you as a whole person.

How do you expect the new hire to change or improve this position?

Ask this and you'll learn why the last guy lost the gig—plus get a fuller picture of what your potential employer counts as success. (Then, when you get the job, make those goals happen.)

Do you like it here?

"This question might take interviewers back a bit," Gregorio says, "but their answer will be telling." If they respond with an automatic yes! then you're probably entering into a positive culture (or talking to someone in denial), and if they look askance and search for meaning, chances are there's a storm a-brewing beneath the interview-y sheen.

Why would I not be a fit for this job?

Inviting a critique shows you can handle feedback, Gregorio says, and it lets the interviewers give voice to any worries they might have about you.

What else should you ask during an interview? Let us know in the comments.

Drake Baer covers leadership for Fast Company. You can follow him on Twitter.

[Image: Flickr user John Morgan]

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15 Comments

  • Anis Rahman

    That was a great article with useful information for a person who is still seeking for a job and facing interviews . Many many thanks to author ,i hope ,we will get more important information from this site .

  • DCostello

    Interesting article, as an integration engineer, I'm always facinated by the labs and workspace.  If I can find out directly about the position, I will ask questions with geared to the job,  but I always ask the question:  "Can you show me around the labs/for a quick tour?"   More often than not I'll get an enthusiastic yes. 

    This provides many benefits:
    1. The interviewer will go out of interviewer mode to allow you to see his real side;
    2. He/She will also provide you the tour with enthusiasm if he/she loves the place; 
    3. You get to see company culture; and
    4. You get to see the lab folks in their natural habitat;

    Seeing the lab folks in their natural habitat is an excellent method of grading a company.  Are the lab guys forced to wear shirts and ties? Kind of like putting perfume on a pig.  It's a waste of perfume and the pig doesn't like it.   Are the lab guys allowed to come to work in Flip Flops and shorts?  A little bit too relaxed.  You get an overall feel for the company culture, you get to see the habitat, and you demonstrate an enthusiasm that not many of the other interviewees thought of.

    Wording the question:  "Can I take a tour, so that I can see where I would be working?"  Puts you in the job in the interviewer's head.

  • $19459384

     That's good.  If you aren't on the short list you may very well be by asking that question.  If the interviewer says next time, then more than likely you are not the "one".

  • Mauri Schwartz

    It is my contention that interviewers can tell as much from
    the questions you ask them as from the answers you provide to their questions.
    Do your research and ask questions that are directly related to the job, not
    the company as a whole. By prefacing your question with something you know
    about the job/company, you will indicate that you have done your homework and
    understand what the interviewer is looking for. 
    Ask questions about relationships between this job/department and others
    in the organization. Who will you be interacting with on a regular basis? How
    is that relationship currently working out? If the response indicates that there
    are some rough edges, this might be a place to tell the interviewer how you
    have successfully handled similar situations.

     Of course, everyone
    should know not to ask any questions about benefits, work style, company
    culture, career growth, etc, but also be sure not to ask any questions or bring
    up any issues that might indicate a negative reflection of the company or
    interviewer. You want to first make sure that they have “fallen in love” with
    you.

  • MsResumeHelp

    I'm reading the comments and I think everyone missed the point albeit the grammer errors are a bit distracting...lol...see what I mean?  Grammar aside, the article is saying you should ask questions that position you as the candidate of choice.  EVERYONE and their mother will ask the same questions about company, future growth, blah, blah, blah... this advice has been given out ad nauseam and trust me doesn't impress.    If you are interviewing properly, you have already interjected this knowledge (and the fact that you can do a Google search) into your responses prior to the end of the interview.  If you are asking question about YOUR fit, skill set, and future work projects, this creates a vision of you already in the position.  Asking general questions may create the vision of someone other than you in the position.  Today's job market is highly competitive   You must bring your A game. If you are not selling yourself as the candidate of choice then you've just give the job to the next one who will.  

    By they way, these questions actually work to lead you to the next interview or an offer.  However, just form them with the correct grammar :)   

  • MsResumeHelp

    This article is spot on and the SAME coaching advice I give to my clients.  These questions can absolutely lead you to the offer (if you are indeed qualified) and in some case  an offer right on the spot.  I've used them before and so have my clients.  Great post!

  • Kctechnopro

    Team is critical - ask about who you will be working along side, what are their strengths and weaknesses, how can you make the team stronger and more sucessful, what is their style do they work very closly, can you meet them?  etc.

  • Balaji2001us

    The advantage of asking one of these suggested questions is that in case the Interviewer opens out to you it is also an indication that you are already short listed for his future plans. No Interviewer is going to open out to you if he thinks that you do not fit his plans.
    I have successfully adopted these questions when I had my opportunities earlier in my career.

  • ari9999

    Agree with gcook, and I'd go further: self-referencing questions put you in a one-down position relative to the interviewer. 

    Given an opening, I'd prefer to discuss the company's challenges to show I have the ability to think and had enough initiative to spend a few minutes googling. 

    Even when going for a low-level customer-facing service job, there could be opportunities to talk a bit about something like, How does the company try to help the customer feel good about coming into the store (or phoning)? "Improving the customer experience" might seem a bit too high-toned if you're looking to serve coffee or bag groceries -- but obviously could be fine for an entry-level marketing gig. So: keep your language and level of thought appropriate for the position, while at the same time getting across the idea that you bring something special to the table -- something to slightly differentiate you from the  Also: use your questions to demonstrate implicitly you've done your homework and know a bit about the company ("Sales were up 8% last year; do you have any sense of what's gonna be happening from here on out? And how's that going to affect a job like mine?") Don't show off ("look how well I did my homework"), but do use questions to send a message between the lines.

  • Gcook

    These five questions are all about the interviewee:  Ask this question, "What is the most important challenge this organization faces, and do you see me helping meet it?"

  • cordialsavage

    What would you like to see more from in this position?

    --Poorly worded.  Do better.

  • Jacob Grahm

    Everyone tries to game the system with clever questions and tactics- both the interviewer and interviewee, but the reality is that plain old GPA is probably the best indicator of how good of an employee an applicant would make,

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12...

  • bpr2010

    To use sales jargon: think 'stretch goal'. The interview/job description should have provided an overview of the position and its roles/tasks. This question is about taking the position to the next level: what additional roles and tasks can the new hire accommodate to excel at the role, and really make a difference.