11 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview (and 5 to Avoid)

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If you apply for a job you are qualified for, chances are you’ll get called in for an interview within a few weeks. This series of questions is an opportunity for you to show off by dressing your best and demonstrating quality job interview etiquette.

However, job interviews are also a two-way street. While the interviewer evaluates you as a potential candidate, you assess whether the company and the role align with your career goals and expectations. Asking thoughtful job interview questions can help you gain deeper insights into the company, its culture, and the position you’re applying for. If you aren’t sure what to ask, look at these 11 questions to ask in a job interview and five questions to avoid.

1. “Can you describe the company culture?”

Company culture can make or break your experience at work. Understanding the company culture can help you determine if you’ll fit in and thrive in the organization. The interviewer should provide insights into the company’s values, work environment, and any unique aspects of their culture.

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However, if the interviewer avoids the question or provides vague answers, it may indicate a lack of transparency or a less-than-ideal work culture. A poor company culture could cause you additional stress and even lead to burnout down the road.

2. “What are the key responsibilities of this role?”

Most online job applications list job responsibilities. However, it’s always best to clarify the exact day-to-day operations of the job before you start. Asking this job interview question ensures you have a clear understanding of what will be expected of you if you’re hired.

The interviewer should provide a detailed breakdown of the main tasks and responsibilities of the role. These tasks and responsibilities should align with the skills you listed on your resume and what you read when you applied for the job. If the interviewer cannot clearly articulate the role’s responsibilities, it could signal a lack of organization or an unclear job description. Furthermore, if the job responsibilities provided don’t align with what you read online, it could indicate this job isn’t the best fit for you.

3. “What does success look like in this position?”

When you are considering a new job, you want to find something that will not only provide satisfaction but help you achieve your career goals. When planning questions to ask in a job interview, items like this help you determine if your career goals align with the company’s vision for this role.

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The interviewer should describe measurable outcomes or key performance indicators (KPIs) for success in the position. If the interviewer provides vague or unrealistic expectations for success, it may indicate a lack of clarity or unreasonable demands. Over time, the demands of the job could diminish your work-life balance.

4. “How does this role contribute to the company’s overall goals?”

Understanding the significance of your role within the organization can help you feel more connected to your work and the company’s mission. It can also help you see opportunities for growth or movement within the company structure.

When you ask this job interview question, the interviewer should explain how the role directly impacts the company’s objectives and growth. If the interviewer cannot or does not provide this, it may suggest a lack of strategic alignment. It could also indicate that the role you’re applying for is not significant to the company’s long-term goals.

5. “What opportunities for professional development are available?”

As a young professional, you should consider each job you accept as a step on your long-term career ladder. Asking interview questions like this helps you determine if the business is focused on helping you achieve your career goals while also showing the company that you are committed to continuous improvement and growth within the company.

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When you ask this, the interviewer should outline training programs, mentorship opportunities, or pathways for advancement. If the company does not offer any clear opportunities for professional development, it may indicate limited growth potential.

6. “Can you describe the team I’ll be working with?”

When selecting questions to ask in a job interview, you shouldn’t just focus on your position and career growth and how you’ll fit in with the existing team. Knowing what to expect from your potential colleagues can help you assess team dynamics and whether you’ll enjoy working with them.

The interviewer should provide information about the team’s size, structure, and key team members. If the interviewer avoids discussing the team or its dynamics, it could be a sign of potential issues within the team or overall company problems with workplace etiquette and team cohesiveness.

7. “How does the company support work-life balance?”

This question shows that you prioritize a healthy work-life balance and want to ensure it’s supported by the company. The interviewer should describe policies, benefits, or programs that promote work-life balance.

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However, if the company has no work-life balance initiatives or cannot provide a satisfactory answer, it may indicate a lack of consideration for employees’ well-being. Although you can always go home and unwind after a stressful day, you don’t want this to be the norm due to poor work-life balance.

8. “What are the biggest challenges the team/department is currently facing?”

Identifying challenges allows you to assess whether you’re equipped to handle them and contribute to solutions. As long as the business is transparent, the interviewer should candidly discuss current obstacles or issues.

If the interviewer downplays or avoids discussing challenges, it may suggest a lack of transparency or an attempt to hide issues within the team or department. This doesn’t bode well for your mental health or workplace satisfaction.

9. “What is the company’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion?”

Everyone deserves to work in a safe, accepting environment. Asking this interview question not only shows you care about creating an inclusive and equitable environment, but it will also help you learn if you will feel accepted by your colleagues.

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The interviewer should describe the company’s DEI initiatives, policies, and their commitment to fostering diversity. However, if this person does not provide a clear DEI strategy or seems dismissive of diversity and inclusion, it may indicate a problematic work environment that lacks integrity and inclusion.

10. “How does the company measure and provide feedback on employee performance?”

Understanding the feedback process can help you gauge the company’s commitment to employee development. The interviewer should explain performance appraisal methods and feedback mechanisms.

If the company lacks a structured performance evaluation process or provides vague answers, it may indicate a lack of investment in employee growth.

11. “What’s the next step in the interview process?”

Nearly any questions to ask in a job interview show your eagerness. However, this exact interview question helps you plan your next moves. The interviewer should outline the timeline for the hiring process, including any additional interviews or assessments. If the interviewer cannot provide a clear timeline or seems disorganized in the hiring process, it may suggest inefficiencies or delays in decision-making.

5 Job Interview Questions to Avoid

1. “What does your company do?”

When selecting questions to ask in a job interview, scratch this one off your list. Asking a question like this indicates that you didn’t research the company or prepare for the interview. You should always research the company thoroughly before the interview. Asking about the company’s basic information suggests that you haven’t done your homework.

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Instead, ask questions that show your knowledge of the company, such as “I noticed that your company recently launched [product/service]. Can you tell me more about how this has impacted your business?”

2. “How much does this job pay?”

While salary is an important consideration, discussing it too early in the interview can come across as more focused on the paycheck than the job itself. It’s best to let the employer bring up salary or wait until you’ve received a job offer.

3. “How many vacation days do I get, and when can I start taking them?”

Asking about time off before you’ve even been offered the job can give the impression that you’re more interested in vacation than in the role. It’s important to establish your commitment to the job first.

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Instead, draw up questions to ask in a job interview that relate to the role itself and your overall career goals. You can always ask about paid time off when a job offer is extended.

4. “Can I work from home or have a flexible schedule?”

Although working from home is becoming more common, asking about it too early in the interview can make it seem like you’re prioritizing your convenience over the company’s needs and culture. It’s better to discuss this during the negotiation phase or after you’ve been offered the job.

5. “How quickly can I get promoted or move up the ladder?”

This interview question can come across as presumptuous and suggests that you’re not fully committed to the current role. It’s important to focus on the responsibilities and growth potential of the job you’re applying for, not just what comes next.

Get That Job

Asking the right questions during a job interview is crucial for making an informed decision about your next career move. While you hope for positive and informative responses, be vigilant for red-flag answers that may indicate potential issues within the company or role.

If all goes well during the interview process, you may soon be ready to respond to a job offer and jump into this new role!

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Megan Glosson

Megan Glosson is a passionate writer based in Nashville, TN. She enjoys writing about topics related to health, wellness, and everyday life, especially when the topic has a personal connection to her own life. Megan is currently published on over a dozen websites, including YourTango, Feel & Thrive, Moms.com, and The Mighty. Megan also serves as a content editor for Unwritten, a digital publication focused on millennial lifestyles.