Most hiring managers close a job interview by asking the candidate if they have any questions. How you respond is pivotal—it might be the most important moment during the whole conversation. If you ask detailed questions, you’ll prove to the hiring manager that you’ve researched the role and are invested in building a relationship with the company. It’s also an opportunity to highlight your skills and insight. For example, asking thoughtful questions about the business operations can show the interviewer that you’re already thinking about the improvements you can make once you become an employee. It might even create an initial touchpoint for you to return to in future discussions, which helps personalize the experience and makes your candidacy more memorable.
It’s always a good idea to prepare a list of questions before the job interview—this eliminates any chance that you’ll get nervous and freeze up in the moment.
What Job Interview Questions Should You Ask the Hiring Manager?
Here are a few questions to consider adding to your repertoire:
- What does success look like in this role? How are those outcomes measured?
- What are the most challenging aspects of this position?
- What’s the labor gap you’re hoping to fill by hiring someone in this position?
- Can you tell me about the person I’ll be reporting to directly?
- What’s the company culture like?
- What are some of the biggest challenges the department/company faces today?
- Can you tell me more about the company’s current initiatives and goals?
- How do I compare to the person who last filled this position?
- What would you like me to accomplish in the first six months?
- What are the most important qualities you’re looking for in a candidate?
- Where do you see the company in the next five years?
- Is there anything about my background or resume that concerns you?
- Asking this question gives you the opportunity to address their concerns before the interview ends. Try to anticipate their response and prepare a counterargument.
In addition to asking questions from this list, you should also try to ask at least one question that’s unique to your role or industry. This specificity helps to showcase your expertise and could give you valuable insight into the company’s internal processes.
How Many Questions Should You Ask?
There’s no definitive number of questions you should ask a hiring manager. This will largely depend on how in-depth their responses are and the natural cadence of the conversation. But you should still be conscientious about the length of the interview. Show respect for the hiring manager’s time by limiting this portion of the meeting to about 15-20 minutes. If you’re worried that the interview is too long, you can try saying something like:
“I really appreciate you spending this time to talk with me, and I’m excited about what I can do as a [insert job title] with this company. I’m happy to spend more time discussing [insert topic], but I want to be respectful of your time.”
This comment demonstrates emotional intelligence and gives the interviewer an opportunity to gracefully close the meeting if they need to move on. It’s better to end on this note rather than risk getting interrupted.
What Should You Do if You Run Out of Interview Questions?
When an interviewer asks if you have any questions, the worst thing you can do is say no. Saying nothing implies that you’re not interested in learning more about the company or what you can do to support them. Even if you feel like your questions have already been addressed, it’s good form to ask the interviewer about their experiences. For example:
- How long have you been at the company?
- How has your role changed since you’ve been here?
- What do you like about working here?
Their answers to these questions can give you an idea how long employees tend to stay with the company and if there are opportunities for upward mobility. You might also be able to gauge how happy the hiring manager is with the business—which could also indicate how happy (or unhappy) you’ll feel if you decide to work with them.
Here’s what you need to know about salary negotiations before a job interview.
Are There Any Topics You Should Avoid During a Job Interview?
Even though you want to appear relaxed and unreserved, you still need to be strategic about how you steer the dialogue.
When you’re applying to a job, think about marketing principles. Which sales approach do you think works better:
A. Highlighting all the product features and incentives and then disclosing the price after the audience is hooked.
B. Telling the audience what the price is before you explain why they should be interested in the product or service.
If you answered A, you already know that the audience needs to feel invested before you talk about the cost. The same is true for a job offer—you don’t want to talk about the salary until you convince the hiring manager you’re their top candidate. By that point, they’ll be more likely to offer a better compensation package.
It’s important to know if you’re applying to a full-time or part-time position. Beyond that, you shouldn’t ask about the hourly expectations for a position until you’ve received an offer. If you ask about those details too early, the hiring manager could assume you’re just there to put in the hours and don’t care as much about the results.
WFH Policy and PTO Requests
Remote work has grown by 91% over the last 10 years, and the trend will probably continue to gain traction. But, as of August 2019, only about 7% of employers reported letting their employees work from home regularly. You don’t want to seem overly eager about flexible work options because this shifts the focus away from your primary objective during a job interview: demonstrating your exceptional skills and qualifications.
If the hiring manager offers you the position, there will be plenty of time for you to negotiate the details of your employment. Before then, you need to focus on presenting yourself as the best candidate.
Pay Attention to the Responses
A successful job interview shouldn’t feel like an interrogation. If you want the interviewer to see you as a colleague, the conversation needs to feel relaxed and candid. Act like an external consultant—the meeting is an opportunity for you to explore the possibility of collaborating in the future.
In addition to taking some of the pressure off your performance, this approach will also make it easier for you to evaluate your first impression of an employer. It’s just as important for you to be happy with an employer as it is for the hiring manager to feel impressed by your work. During the job interview, pay attention to the hiring manager’s responses. Take notes when you feel it’s appropriate, and think about how the office surroundings make you feel. It might take time to find the right fit, but it will be worth the effort when you find a job you enjoy.