Looking to impress at your next interview? Ask these unique questions at the end!
You've spent a lot of time preparing answers for your upcoming interview. You've aced the pre-employment competency test, reviewed commonly asked tricky questions, and researched the prospective employer. You're ready to answer any question a hiring manager could ask - but do you know which unique interview questions to ask employers when they inevitably ask, “Do you have any questions for me?”
You aren't ready for the interview if you don't have questions ready for the interviewer
You need to have questions ready and prepared for your interviewer for this moment. Having a thoughtful and unique question, or a set of creative questions to ask in an interview, shows that you're engaged in the process and interested in the job, and leaves a lasting positive impression.
The moment you get asked “Do you have any questions?" is a make-or-break moment in the interview, so we wanted to prepare you with some compelling and unique questions, including five sourced from the answers provided by all types of hiring managers over on Quora and another fifteen great questions used by job seekers just like you.
20 really unique questions to ask employers
If you could trade your boss for the hiring manager, would you?
This question was asked of Jacob Kerr, an executive recruiter at TRANSEARCH International. He recalls, “I've never been asked that question again, but it's so fresh in my mind. If I wouldn't work for a hiring manager, how could I possibly sell that role to a candidate?”
If you aren't being interviewed by your hiring manager directly, but rather a recruiter or someone else within the company, this provocative question can help you to assess the company culture and gain insight into what your potential new boss might be like. It opens the door for further conversation around management styles and what you're looking for in your ideal boss.
Where is the last person that held this position now?
Antoinette Merriweather says she uses this question to help understand her potential trajectory at a company. If upward mobility within an organization is important to you, understanding if the person who used to hold your role left for a better opportunity, was fired due to poor performance, or got promoted into a new role can help you to assess what your future with the company might look like, too.
Antoinette pairs this inquiry with several others to give herself more information: “Once I hear the reason(s) for their departure, I'll elaborate on my query by explaining, 'I just wanted to know if, or how long, I would have access to him/her for training, so I can thoroughly pick their brains and hopefully learn some of the subtle little nuances that they've gleaned while working here.'”
“It shows the interviewer that I'm eager to learn about the position and I want to do as good - or better - a job as my predecessor. However, if I learn that my predecessor was a horrible employee and their work performance should not be duplicated, I will ask, 'What can I do to ensure that I don't make those same errors?' Once again, demonstrating an eagerness to succeed.”
Do you see any reasons why I'm not a good fit for this position?
Directly asking for feedback about why you might not be a perfect fit for a role can help you to address your perceived shortcomings head on.
By taking a cue from “thick skin thinking,” you'll not only be able to impress the interviewer with a direct request for feedback, but you'll be able to use their reply to help improve your skills and performance in interviews with other companies, too.
How long has this position been open?
This practical question can help you to get insight into where the company is in the hiring process and how important the role is to the company's success.
Palak Sharma, a human resources professional, notes, “If the job has been open for a year or more then it gives the idea to the candidate that either nobody is interested, the hiring recruiter is too choosy in selecting the candidate, or the recruiter keeps on changing the requirements and doesn't know what he/she is looking for.”
You can also use this question as a means to spark a discussion around the timeline for hiring and when to expect next steps. If a position has only been open for a few days, you might expect to wait a little longer, as the hiring manager or recruiter evaluates more candidates.
What makes you happy working here?
After salary and benefits, company culture is most often cited as the reason why job seekers decide whether or not to accept a certain job offer. Asking your interviewer what makes them happy at work offers you a glimpse into what the company culture is like. Is it the free snacks that the company offers? Workplace flexibility? Wonderful camaraderie between colleagues? The open-ended nature of the question allows the interviewer to answer personally - and by extension, offers you the opportunity to establish a personal connection, too.
Conversely, if it's difficult for the hiring manager to put together a response, or the answer is vague and insipid, then right away you have a sense that perhaps the workplace is toxic or the team might not be the best fit for you.
What is the biggest obstacle that others have encountered in this role?
This question demonstrates your capacity for identifying challenges and suggests an eagerness to prepare to overcome any obstacle. Hiring personnel are always on the lookout for candidates who have great problem-solving skills, so a proactive approach to identifying problems is always appreciated. Be prepared to follow up with questions about how your predecessors resolved those issues.
This can also be a great way to assess whether the role is right for you. For example, if the interviewer responds by noting that previous employees had been frustrated by excessively tight deadlines or overtime expectations, that could be something that you'd want to take into consideration before you move forward with the hiring process.
What can you tell me about the rest of the team?
One of the best ways to express your interest in a particular job role is to inquire about your potential coworkers and supervisors. With this question, you can ask the interviewer to provide an overall assessment of your prospective teammates. You can follow up with questions about the division of labor, the amount of collaboration that typically occurs, and how often you'll have the opportunity to interact with those coworkers.
Do employees spend any significant amount of time together outside of work?
This question can provide some clues about the nature of the company's broader culture. In many cases, companies with inclusive and team-oriented cultures foster tighter relationships between coworkers, which often enables them to form friendship bonds that extend beyond the work environment. If socialization outside of work is important to you, then this can be useful information to obtain.
Of course, it is also important to understand that there are plenty of companies where that type of socialization just doesn't occur. Many people simply have no time for getting together with coworkers in their free time, or just want to do their jobs and get home to their families. Either way, it's helpful to understand the type of culture that awaits you if you get hired at the company.
Can you tell me a little bit about my direct superior's management style?
Some people work better in particular management environments. That helps to explain why studies have consistently found that bad managers are one of the most common reasons why people think about quitting their jobs. Of course, one person's “bad manager” might be another's dream boss, depending on the type of management style they prefer. That's one reason why it's important to learn as much as you can about a prospective manager's style before you accept a job offer.
After all, if you're someone who enjoys a transparent, team-oriented approach to your job, you may struggle to deal with a more authoritarian or bureaucratic boss. Alternatively, a structured, detail- and process-oriented employee may thrive under that type of management. The best way to avoid accepting an offer that could lead to an adversarial relationship with management is to try to get a glimpse into your supervisor's management style during the interview process.
How does this company differ from other places you have worked in the past?
Among all the many unique interview questions to ask potential employers, this one may be one of the best ways to learn more about how the company's current employees really feel about their jobs. It provides the interviewer with an opportunity to describe aspects of the company's culture and operations that may help you to gain insight into what it's really like to work there.
Depending on how in-depth the interviewer gets during their response, this question could inspire you to double down on your desire for the job or it could cause you to rethink working there altogether. Either way, the answer can be extremely helpful for ensuring that you make the best possible decision for your career.
What are the company's expectations for this role in the first few months on the job?
This is an important question for anyone who wants to demonstrate that they are serious about quickly succeeding in their role as a new hire. It also shows that you're focused on getting up to speed as quickly as possible and are goal oriented. Today's employers are always in the market for job candidates who are ready and willing to pursue the company's short- and long-term objectives on day one.
Questions like this can also help you to discover how the company views the job you will be doing, and the type of guidance that you might receive to help you integrate into their team. You can follow up with a question focused on long-term expectations as well. That will demonstrate that you have plans to stay with the company more than a few months, which is always a positive message for any employer to hear.
How often would I receive direct feedback on my performance?
One way to learn more about how a company provides performance assessments is to simply ask about the frequency of feedback delivery. This question can signal to an employer that you value feedback and are committed to consistently meeting expectations. Just as important, this question can help you to better understand how the company manages its performance reviews, so that you're not surprised later. In addition, the frequency of scheduled performance reviews can provide clues about pay raises and other advancement opportunities.
What type of metrics will be used to assess my performance?
Before you accept any position, you'll want to ensure that you understand how your performance will be judged. By asking about this aspect of the assessment process, you can get a better idea of which areas of the job you should prioritize to ensure that you meet expectations. It can also help you to understand management's priorities and how your role fits within the organization's macro goals.
From the interviewer's perspective, questions about performance metrics can demonstrate a commitment to meeting expectations. This question can show that you're serious about matching your capabilities to the job's requirements and management's expectations, which any hiring manager will view as a point in your favor. Remember, every company measures performance. Your job is to learn which metrics they use to make that assessment.
What type of professional development opportunities are available to employees at the company?
By asking about professional development within the company, you can learn some important details about the company culture and its commitment to its employees. Different companies approach this issue in different ways. Some firms focus a lot of attention on helping employees to develop new skills, while others expect their workers to take responsibility for their own development.
This question can also be a great way to demonstrate your commitment to reaching your full potential as an employee. Many companies appreciate candidates who understand that their success in the marketplace is dependent upon their ability to keep pace with new technologies, new skills, and new ways of doing things.
Can you describe the onboarding process for me?
One way to demonstrate your eagerness to start a new job on the right footing is to simply ask about the onboarding process. What will your first day or week on the job look like? What type of introduction to your new role will you receive, and who will be responsible for helping you to settle into your job? Will you begin by working on your own or will you be quickly integrated into an existing team?
How does this role contribute to the company's main goals for the coming year?
This is one of those questions that can show an interviewer that you appreciate the value of the position you're seeking and are interested in its impact on the company. At the same time, focusing on the coming year demonstrates that you plan on being in the position for more than a few weeks or months, and may even want to grow your career within the firm. Those are all positive things to show to any potential employer and can often separate you from your competitors.
Has the company or its culture changed much since you started working here?
By asking about the interviewer's experience with the company, you accomplish several things. Firstly, you provide an opportunity for that person to talk about themselves - something that most human beings feel at least somewhat comfortable doing. Secondly, you can learn important details about the firm's overall culture, and any recent changes in the work environment. Finally, you demonstrate interest in becoming a part of that culture.
Does the company do a lot of internal promotion?
This question can be a great way to determine the company's approach to filling management and other higher echelon positions. Companies that look internally for promotions may focus more of their attention on career advancement opportunities for their employees. Those types of companies offer an excellent environment for skill development, since they invest a great deal of time and energy empowering employees and helping them to meet their potential.
Of course, this type of question also has the added benefit of showing that you're interested in long-term employment, rather than simply looking for a short-term position. Again, employers appreciate workers who are committed to staying in one job for longer periods of time, especially when so many companies are struggling to find the employees they need.
Which of the skills in my resume caught your eye, and are there others that I may need to sharpen to succeed in the role?
Any question that invites the interviewer to discuss your qualifications can be a great way to focus the conversation on your ability to fill the company's open position. This particular question can enable you to find out more about which skills the employer prioritizes, and could even open the door for you to better assess your chances of landing the job. At the same time, asking about skills that you might need to update can enable you to identify any potential areas of weakness in your resume.
That latter benefit can be critical for interview success, since it can provide you the opportunity to expand on your resume. If, for example, the interviewer mentions that they do not see “x” skill on your resume, you will have an immediate opportunity to address that omission. You might point out that you have a similar transferable skill that can meet the company's needs - or that you do have that skill and failed to list it because it wasn't in the job advertisement.
Is there anything else you need me to do to prepare for the next step of the interview and hiring process?
This question should be asked at the end of the interview, if you choose to include it. It is an effective way to try to find out what you can expect when you walk out the door. It also signals your willingness to provide additional information if needed, while expressing your continued interest in the position. As a result, it's usually a good idea to include some variation of this question in every interview.
Of course, there are many interviewers who will preemptively describe the next steps of the process, so make sure that you skip this question if it's already been answered.
Figuring out the right unique interview questions to ask employers can be critical to landing your next great job offer and these unique conversation starters are ones you should consider when preparing for your next interview. Asking the right questions also communicates your competence, highlights that you're seriously interested in the job, and helps you to determine if the workplace is the right fit for you.
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