Questions to ASK and AVOID in a Job Interview

“So, do you have any questions for me?” Ever reached this point in an interview? Then you’ll not want to be caught off guard. The best type of interview is a conversation. However, some candidates will internally panic at the prospect of leading the rest of the conversation; this blog intends to dispel those fears and act as guidance in your job search! So, here’s some questions to ask and avoid in a job interview.

Is it a trap?

We understand that it can feel like a trap when the roles are reversed – many candidates fall at this hurdle. For example, responding with a simple ‘no’ can imply a lack of interest or ability to be direct. Similarly, some people may only ask questions about sick pay/holiday entitlement – this can suggest that you’re concerned about the wrong things. Obviously, we all want to know when we can get that holiday booked in, or if we’ll be able to manage on sick-leave, but these NOT questions for your potential employer at this stage.

A Golden Opportunity

Instead, see ‘do you have any questions’, as a double-sided OPPORTUNITY. On the one hand, asking questions will help you to determine if the role is right for you. Similarly, if you decided mid-interview that you REALLY want this job, it’s a bonus chance for you to make that impression. We’ve put together a few questions to ask that could work in your favour when it comes to being hired. 

Before your interview, try and prepare a couple of questions to ask that will show your best side. If you have a point that you haven’t had the chance to convey yet, say, ‘I do have a few questions but before I ask, could I say one thing?’. This will immediately give you an opportunity to drive home any key points about your suitability for the role.

During an interview, this image shows a conversation between and interviewer and candidate

10 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

Finally, here’s some questions to be asking in your next interview. DISCLAIMER: this isn’t an exhaustive list, and you may want to alter the wording depending on the role you’re applying for:

  • How will you measure the success of the person in this position?

First and foremost, you need to know how to do the job well. If you gather this information now, you’ll be in a much better position to fulfill the role if you’re successful. 

  • Can you describe what a typical day/week for me would look like?

We spend around 30% of our lives at work. Do you really want to risk starting a new job and finding you absolutely despise your day-to-day obligations? Didn’t think so – make sure you check with your potential employer what a typical day might look like. This is a great question to ask an interviewer!

  • Are there opportunities for training and progression within the role/company?

We shouldn’t have to work-to-live, our work should enhance us professionally and personally. Training and development should be a basic expectation of any role – ensure you’re aware of the training process, the systems used and the people involved. Similarly, it’s good to ascertain if there might be promotional opportunities, as this shows a willingness to commit to the job, work hard, and learn more. 

  • Where do you think the company is heading in the next five years?

In asking about future goals, you’re actively engaging in that company’s vision and displaying your interest in progression. This question also gives you the opportunity to decide if this company’s vision aligns with your future career aspirations. For example, you might want to work for a small, local business, but their 5-year-plan involves a huge franchising phase or merging into a conglomerate.

  • How would you describe the company’s values?

Like the previous question, you want to ascertain what this company actually stands for. Values outline the personality of a business, and can relate to how senior management conduct themselves morally. This is super important to find out before you’re offered the role!

  • You mention that you differ from other companies in this industry, how would you describe your approach, and how does this benefit your staff?

Here at Placing Faces, we feel that we do things a little differently to other recruiters. There are loads of recruiters, so we have to be different in order to stand out to clients and candidates. We try to go against the corporate grain of the industry, and brand ourselves as the friendly, down to earth people we are! For us, this creates a much more relaxed and productive environment for our staff to work in. 

If the company you’re applying for asserts themselves as ‘different’, make sure you find out how and why this is!

  • Why has the role come available? Is it performance related, or due to the previous person being promoted? 

You have every right as a potential employee to find out how the role you’re applying for has come to light. A positive answer from the employer might explain a period of healthy growth, in which the previous position-holder has been promoted. Negative answers might involve a mention of high staff turnover, or the requirements of the role being extremely demanding. Either way, you need to know!

  • What’s the first project/task I might be working on?

Showing interest in the operational side of the job displays interest, and a willingness to prepare in advance. These traits are desirable in the workplace, and could set you apart from another candidate who doesn’t ask about their potential duties. Sometimes we apply and interview for jobs when we don’t fully understand our obligations on day one – asking this question will give you a heads up on what your work might actually entail.

  • Are my responsibilities likely to change within the first year, if I’m hired?

It’s useful to know, prior to being hired, whether the current requirements/tasks of the job could be subject to change in the near future. The company may be undergoing diversification or expansion, so you need to know the implications of these plans on your potential new job!

  • Is there anything else I can provide you with that would be helpful?

You’ve asked some questions, got your answers, but you still feel you need to end the conversation in the best way possible? ASK THIS! It gives your interviewer a chance to review the information they have, and clarify anything if needed. It also displays mindfulness, competency and willingness to help.

Celebrating after asking the best questions in your interview

Hopefully that gives you enough to go on for now! Just to be extra clear, here’s what to avoid asking in a job interview:

  • What’s the starting salary?

This is something that should be disclosed either in the original job vacancy advert, or during the interview already. Always wait for the employer to mention the ‘M’ word (money) first.

  • Can you tell me about the perks such as health insurance or a company car?

Don’t focus on the perks – it sends the wrong message about why you want the job in the first place. A job interview is a chance to sell YOURSELF, so don’t expect a spiel about a cushty Audi or free dental care.

  • What are your paid leave policies?

It doesn’t look great if you use this opportunity to ask questions about time-off! We know that it’s important to everyone, but there’s a time and a place to find out this information. Either the interviewer will let you know, or your contract will outline this.

  • Do you have any other positions other than this one?

After taking the time to review your CV, shortlist and interview you, your potential employer won’t appreciate this question. If there were other roles available, you as a candidate should have established that prior to attending an interview. 

  • What does this company actually do?

C’mon, we’ve all been there – sometimes the company’s operations can seem a little ambiguous. But DON’T risk coming across as unprofessional; the interviewer will expect you to know the basic functions of the business. All will become clear in your first week!

  • Say I get the job, when can I start applying for other positions in the company?

This is just annoying. Why waste a position for the sake of accessing another role? Not only have you wasted an interview offer, but the company might reject many great applicants who could fulfill the position for the long-haul. Trust us, this is a question to avoid!

An interviewer's reaction when you ask a question you should have avoided
Please note: asking any of the above questions may cause your interviewer to look at you like this!

And that’s a wrap!

So, now you know the questions to ask and avoid in your next job interview! Hopefully this guidance has boosted your confidence going forward, and clarified what to avoid. Using a recruiter can also help to alleviate the stress of an interview, as we offer tailored advice specific to our hiring clients. Get in touch with us, here at Placing Faces, if you need a helping hand in your career journey!