Use this guideline to know how many questions is too many.
If you've ever wondered, “How many questions should you ask in an interview?”, you're not alone. Learn how to gauge the appropriate number of questions to ask during the interview process — and what to ask — in order to advance to the next round.
Q: How many questions should a candidate ask in a job interview? Is there such a thing as too many?
Is there an ideal number of questions I should ask in an interview? I don't want to take too much of the interviewer's time, but I also want to learn as much as I can. How many questions are considered too many? — David O.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Interviewing should be a two-way street. When you're actively job seeking, it's important that you approach each job interview as though you are a consultant who is gathering intel for a potential project, rather than an actor who is auditioning for the role of “employee.”
While some questions will naturally emerge from your conversations with your interviewer or hiring manager, it's a good idea to prepare a list of questions you can ask each person with whom you speak.
The number of questions you ask will depend on how far along you are in the interview process. For instance, your interviewer will budget less time for an initial phone screen — and therefore, expect to field fewer questions from candidates during such a preliminary conversation — than if it were a face-to-face interview. A good rule of thumb is to have between three to five questions prepared to ask the interviewer or hiring manager over the phone. The further you advance through the interview process, the more questions you can ask.
However, don't get too caught up on a specific number of questions you're expected or allowed to ask, regardless of the interview stage you're in. Instead, focus on the content quality of your questions. Employers and hiring managers are happy to answer any number of questions a candidate asks when they are thoughtful, appropriate, and will help the candidate determine if the opportunity is a good fit.
The best interview questions help you achieve one or more of the following goals:
Determine if the employer and position are right for you
Demonstrate your genuine interest in the opportunity (if applicable)
Discover whether the interviewer has reservations about your candidacy
If your question isn't geared toward achieving one of these goals, or it could be answered with a simple online search, then you probably shouldn't be wasting your time — or the interviewer's — by asking it. Instead, stick to asking questions during the course of the interview that will help you determine whether you want to continue pursuing the job opportunity.
It's perfectly acceptable to bring with you a list of questions to ask your interviewers. Here is a great list of interview questions to get you started. This can touch on the work environment, performance expectations, and your career path. Before you head to your interview, review your list once more and flag the most important questions you'd like to ask. This way, if you are unable to get through every question on your list, you can at least make sure you've covered the key items.
Remember, the key to interview success is to focus on the purpose behind each question you ask, rather than how many questions you should ask in an interview.
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Amanda Augustine is a certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW) and the resident career expert for Talent Inc.'s suite of brands: TopResume, TopCV, and TopInterview. On a regular basis, she answers user questions like the one above. Have a question? Take a look at Amanda's career advice on our blog or ask a question on her Quora page.
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