Smart Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

smart interview questions

You’re sitting under the fluorescent lights of an unfamiliar conference room across from the person who may decide the fate of your job search, trying desperately to remember that perfect story you prepared and wondering if the AC is always set to “arctic blast.” Or maybe you’re at home in front of the most professional wall in your apartment, looking at your interviewer on a computer screen and hoping your camera won’t shift and reveal the stack of empty La Croix cans you forgot to move before the Zoom call started.

Then, the hiring manager asks the interview question you know is a signal that things are about to wrap up: “Do you have any questions for me?”

No matter how much power you might feel like employers hold in the situation, a job interview isn’t just a chance for the hiring manager to grill you—it’s your opportunity to sniff out whether a position would be as great for you as you would be for the position. So it’s vital to ask some questions of your own. What do you want to know about the role? The company? The department? The team? The person interviewing you who may be your future boss, coworker, or mid-afternoon coffee buddy?

To get you thinking, we’ve put together a list of the best, smart interview questions for your upcoming interview. We definitely don’t suggest asking all of them rapid-fire—some of this stuff will be covered during the course of your discussion, and you’ll have specific questions about any given job or workplace.

So this list isn’t the be-all and end-all—it’s your jumping-off point.

Best Tips For Asking An Employer Questions

Before we get to the list, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Don’t say you have no questions. You probably already know that whether you’re stressed or relaxed, whether you think you’ve fumbled the conversation badly or you’ve got this job in the bag, the worst thing you could say is, “Nope, I’m good.”
  • Be flexible. It’s OK (and encouraged) to jot down a few questions ahead of your interview, but don’t be afraid to deviate from the list if your questions have already been answered and/or if your discussion prompts a few more questions you’d like answered. Plus, you don’t want to sound like you’re reading the questions off some sort of internet list rather than having a real conversation.
  • Ask at least a few specific questions. Show you’re invested and you’ve been paying attention throughout the interview process by customizing your questions to the specific position and company—and reminding your interviewers of the background knowledge and experience you bring to the role.

Smart Interview Questions To Ask About The Job

Make sure you have a handle on exactly what the day-to-day responsibilities of the job will be—both now and in the future. This will help you make an informed decision if and when that job offer comes and avoid Shift Shock or a toxic workplace.

  • What does a typical day or week look like in this role? (Or one of these alternatives.)
  • What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed?
  • Can you show me examples of projects I’d be working on?
  • What are the skills and experiences you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?
  • What attributes does someone need to have in order to be really successful in this position?
  • What types of skills is the team missing that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
  • What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?
  • What sort of budget would I be working with?
  • Is this a new role or will I be taking over for an employee who’s leaving?
  • How does this position contribute to the company overall?
  • Do you expect the main responsibilities for this position to change in the next six months to a year?

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