Asking the interviewer questions during your interview isn’t a sign of weakness or stepping out of line. Interviewers are impressed when you don’t just sit there and tell them what they want to hear. Challenge them. This is your chance to explore the role in more depth, find out what life is like at the company and get all the information you need before agreeing to take the role or turning it down.
To leave an impression in your interview and get as much information about the position that you need, here are 10 smart questions to ask your interviewer, regardless of your role.
1. What do you personally like about working in this company?
The interviewer is trying to recruit you to the organization, so it’s likely questions about the culture will come up. However, a smart question to ask your interviewer is what they enjoy the most about working for the company. The answer here will give you insight into what the business is really like.
2. What have previous or current employees done to succeed in this role and in this company?
There won’t be a secret blueprint to success the interviewer will give away in the interview. Instead, they’ll offer some insight into what you can do and what they expect you to achieve. Comparing yourself to current employees also shows you’re a high achiever and want to leave an impression in the role and company.
3. Is this a brand new role? If not, why did the previous employee leave?
This can be uncomfortable to ask, but it’ll give you peace of mind when you find out the reason. If the role is brand new, there shouldn’t be anything to be worried about, other than outlining expectations.
But if this isn’t a new role, it’s a smart question to ask why the previous person in the role had left or had been let go. This helps you understand how the organization works and shows you aren’t walking into the role blind. Knowing if the person had been fired, the reason they were let go or if they were promoted will help you decide whether you want to take up the position.
4. If I’m given this role, what do you expect me to achieve between 6 months to a year?
Outline the expectations right off the bat. The last thing you want is to start on your first day and realize the expectations are unfair and difficult to achieve — something that would have put you off from accepting the role had you known beforehand.
This is a smart question because it gives you a safety net regarding whether you want to sign up knowing what the expectations are. It also gives you insight into how organized the business is, so you can find out if they have seriously thought about what’s realistic for a new starter to achieve. Don’t set yourself up to fail.
5. Can you tell me some of the challenges a person in this role will face?
Whether you’re a veteran developer or a new software engineer, there are expectations, hurdles and challenges. It could be cultural or professional, it’s smart to raise the possible challenges early on so you know what to expect.
It’s unlikely the interviewer will say there are no challenges as that could be a warning sign. Look for honesty. Be aware of the challenges raised and if you know you have the skills to overcome them or the company can offer you enough support along the way.
6. Is there any room for progression?
Some might tell you this is a question that could backfire, as the interviewer won’t want you to think this is a stepping stone for you to go on and move somewhere else. If you’re concerned about this, don’t ask it. However, do you really expect to stay in one role or company forever?
You also need to think about your future. The reason this question is smart is it shows the interviewer you won’t just settle. It shows you have ambition and that you’re genuinely thinking of a future with the company, rather than jumping ship when another exciting role at a different organization appears.
7. What can you tell me about the company culture?
The work aspect is just one side of the story. It’s essential you ask your interviewer about the company culture and the type of people that tend to succeed there. On the surface, the job and company might seem perfect, but you might realize the culture isn’t one you’d feel comfortable with.
On the flip side, you might have reservations about the culture, but the interviewer tells you what kind of people succeed and describe the culture as something you’ve been searching for. Without asking this question, you could join a company without knowing what their culture is like, which is a big risk.
8. Where do you see the company going in the next five years?
You’re in the interview because you’re ready to progress in your life. That means you need to join a company that can keep up with your personal goals by having professional plans in place for business growth.
Ask about the company’s growth plans and where they plan to go. If the plans are slow and lack ambition, it might not be the right place for you. If they’re on a similar trajectory to you, then it’s a company worth working for.
9. Is there anything I would be asked to do that isn’t in the job description?
This is one of the smartest interview questions you can ask. Although the answer might be no, it’s better to have that peace of mind and confirmation. Highlight some of the responsibilities from the job description and ask whether there’s anything else you’d need to do.
This is smart because you don’t want to join the company, only to realize you’re on coffee duty or clean-up duty and this information was hidden. Get it out in the open and align expectations early on.
10. How will you measure the success of the person in this role?
This gets right into what you need to know about the job. Don’t shy away from this. It highlights what you need to do well and what you need to achieve to be considered a success. While the job description might explain this a little, some job descriptions tend to be templated and outdated, the measures of success could change by the time you come in for your interview.
Avoid tripping yourself up and ask this smart question to find out what the job really is and what success looks like.
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