Are you asking the right questions in an interview?

Having constructive and creative questions in a job interview can set you apart from other candidates and make sure you are a good fit for the job.

“Do you have any questions?” is often asked by an interviewer. You should be prepared to answer that with “Yes!” and follow it up with some insightful inquiries that also make you appealing to the employer. It is best to have a bank of questions you can draw from if they are not covered within the course of the interview. It is also beneficial for you to categorize them so you can get a better feel for the type of job you will be doing and the employer whom you will be dealing with. Remember, this is a type of relationship you are entering and you will need to be comfortable with your decision.

Categorized below are the areas you should consider covering and some possible questions you can ask to gain insight in those areas.

Questions about the job

These questions are geared towards finding out what the job really is. Questions can include: What is a typical day like? How has this position evolved since it was created? Would you mind telling me what you (or the position you are filling) did yesterday? These questions should get at what you will be doing on your job on a typical day. If that appeals to you, you found a good fit.

Questions about success in position

You want to demonstrate that you want to succeed. Asking questions that are geared toward your development and leaning will fit in here. Questions can include: What is needed to succeed in this position? In the past, what successful traits or skills did employees have? What advice would you give someone starting this job? What will I be doing in the first weeks or months – job shadowing, training, working alone or on a team? Showing you want to develop yourself and the company shows initiative and desire. You may also ask if you have any concerns or problems with your qualifications. These questions show you acknowledge your faults and are willing to be coached or to grow.

Questions about the company

You want to know what type of culture you are entering and you want to feel comfortable and appreciated in a job. You also want the company to align with your morals and goals. Some questions might be: What are the unexpected benefits that might be gained from working for this company? What do you enjoy most about working for this company? How would you describe the culture of the company? Where do you see the company going in the next five to 10 years? What do you love about this company?

Questions about coworkers

You can ask who you might be reporting to and if you are working independently or in a team. You may ask about the type of team you may be working on and what they have accomplishes or what assets each team members brings to the table. Getting to know the personality of the team or who you might be working closely with could be a determining factor in your decision to take the job.

Questions about challenges

Looking for what challenges you may face gives you more insight on the job and to verify if it is right for you. You want to know if you can handle the not so favorable aspects of the job, or at least prepare for them. Try asking questions like: What is the least appealing aspect of this job? What are some of the challenges I will face during the day or week? Where do you see people struggling in this position?

Questions on training and development

You may not need training for all positions, but it is good to ask about development, advancement and training. This again shows you are not just in this for a paycheck, but want to grow as a person. Questions to consider are: What type of training program do you have for new hires? What is the evaluation and support process? Are there areas for advancement? What type of personal development is available?

Michigan State University Extension educator Janice Zerbe provides insight on the appropriate questions to ask during an interview for those that might be starting their first job in her article, “Questions to ask during an interview.” U.S. News and Forbes also provide tips for the interviewing process and possible questions to ask the interviewer in “The 8 Best Questions to Ask a Job Interviewer” and “10 Job Interview Questions You Should Ask.”

For more information on job interview skills, visit our Career Preparation Interviews page. You can also look through our 4-H Career Exploration Resources

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