Owning Your Interview: Top Questions to Ask and Why


The dreaded “Do you have any questions?” can cause stress and despair in the interviewee. We often seize up and close the interview without asking much, if anything, about the role, culture, or company. Having questions prepared and ready for the interviewer sets you apart. Quickly prepping yourself with engaging questions will set you apart from others. While there are no right questions, there are some that definitely get the “right” message across to your audience and will set you apart. Below, I am going to provide you with five strong questions and explain why and how to ask them.

What are some of the challenges this role brings?

Why: Most interviewing tips/tricks stray away from challenging questions. But, if formed as objectively as possible, with clear language, this sort of question will help you to discover aspects of the role that the employer deems more complicated. Also, it gives you a better gauge of the role holistically, which is always a good thing!

How to ask: Asking this during the interview is best form. If you wait too long into the interview process to ask it, you may leave your dialogue with the interviewer on a less-than-high note. If you do ask it toward the end, make sure it’s queued up as a discovery question.

Can you tell me what you love about being with Company X?

Why: Culture is usually not a top-of-mind focus during the interview process. This question helps you understand the company’s specific culture, but also allows for some dialogue with the interviewer, in their own words. Also, it helps you avoid the clichéd generalizations that come with non-specific culture questions. And it will help you gauge if this workplace is a good choice for you or not, which is key when evaluating a job offer. You are not just accepting the role, but the company as well.

How to ask: Saving this for the end is never a bad idea, but if there is a part of the interview process that naturally segues into this question do not hesitate! It will also give you credibility for displaying active listening during the interview process.

What are the top priorities for this role during the first three months?

Why: This helps you identify the preparedness of the company for this role. If they have a clear idea of expectations, you are more likely to adjust to the role with only minor growing pains. Also, by asking you gain more scope of the position. This will let you know how to excel right out of the gate. Lastly, based on how ideal the response is versus how factual it is, you will know how new the role is to the company.

How to Ask: Ask this anytime really, as this could be easily queued up during the expectations/role outline portion of the interview. Also, it’s good to encourage this dialogue as interviewers have a tendency to rely on the job description versus the actuals of the job.

What is the expected long term growth of a person in this role?

Why: This question helps you determine the company’s focus on how they grow their employees and the ideal checks and balances that are in place to ensure you have a career path ahead of you.

How to ask: Ask this toward the end, it’s a good closing question because it allows the interviewer to reflect on you while answering your question. It also opens up dialogue. You will be able to see how the interviewer envisions the career trajectory and it is a great segue to the top performer question below.

What does your top performer do to stand out?

Why: This question paints a picture of the work ethic that is truly valued versus what is “sold” to you in the interview process. It also helps you gauge the work load and types of deliverables you should be expecting if you’re hired. And it can lead to more conversation and dialogue regarding the role, which can increase your chances to showcase your skills, especially if something they do is in your skillset.

How to Ask: Saving this for the end of the interview reduces your chances of slanting your answers earlier on in the interview. Also, it allows for more natural conversation, which gives you more opportunity to shine in front of the interviewer.

While some of these questions will come up naturally during the interview process, making sure you can ask at least 2-3 questions shows the interviewer you are engaged, professional, and focused.



By |2018-08-24T13:06:32+00:00August 2nd, 2016|Categories: Before the Interview, During the Interview|0 Comments

About the Author:

Dawn has over 7.5 years of experience in recruiting management and process outsourcing oversight. She has recruited for diverse fields such as salaried and hourly maintenance, warehouse, food and delivery trucking, retail management, mechanics, and technicians. Dawn is currently a Senior Operations Manager at PeopleScout, where she additionally consults for pre-employment best practices and compliance procedures.

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