Careers advice

20 questions to ask in a job interview

You should come to your job interview equipped with questions to ask the interviewer. Here are 20 great starters.

What you’ll learn:

  • Why you should ask questions in a job interview 
  • How many questions you should ask in an interview 
  • The best questions to ask in a job interview

The final question you should expect in a NZ job interview is, “Do you have any questions for me?”. 

If you only take one thing from this article, let it be this – the answer, “nope, all good!” isn’t what the hiring manager wants to hear.

So, as part of your preparation, you should line up some intelligent questions to ask the interviewer. To make this easy, we’ve put together a list of some of the most popular examples that you can adapt to your interview. 

Let’s get quizzical.

Avoid an awkward silence by coming prepared with questions to ask the interviewer.

Why should you ask questions in a job interview?

You might be wondering why you need to ask questions in a job interview – after all, aren’t they assessing you? Well, you asking questions is actually part of this. 

If you ask intelligent, enthusiastic and well thought out questions, it shows that you’re not just hoping to scrape through the interview and maybe land the job, but that you’re actually excited about and engaged with the idea of working for the company. 

It’s also a chance for you to take control of a portion of the interview, which is beneficial in several ways. Firstly, you can ask questions that, subtly, allow you to reinforce the qualities that make you well suited to the role – for example, if you know that one of your strengths is creative thinking, you could ask something along the lines of ‘Is there much scope for testing and learning in this role?”. In addition, the ability to direct the conversation by asking questions shows off your soft skills and gives a chance for the conversation to flow in a more natural way, highlighting the positive presence you’d be in the team.

How many questions should you ask in an interview?

There’s no right or wrong number of questions you can ask an employer, but as a general rule, we’d advise preparing at least five. Tip: there’s nothing wrong with writing your questions down and bringing a notepad – this is an interview, not a pub quiz. 

You might not get time to ask them all, but having options means you have wiggle room if the interviewer answers one or two of them during the interview itself. 

If you’re through to a second interview, you’ll probably find you have more opportunity to ask questions than in the initial round. 

But the best advice is to just gauge the flow of the conversation. You don’t want to appear disinterested by only asking one question, but a never-ending list when the interviewer is clearly trying to wrap up could get annoying.

The best questions to ask in a job interview

1. Questions about the role

  • Could you expand on XYZ aspect of the role? As well as being a good opportunity to find out more about what the job involves, this question shows you’ve retained what they’ve talked about so far. 
  • How will you measure success for this role? Asking about key performance indicators (KPIs) shows you’re a goal driven person, and keen to meet their expectations. It also tells you what to expect from your manager, and whether they have clearly defined objectives in mind. 
  • What is the performance review process like? Here you’d hope to find out how often your performance would be reviewed, what they look at, and how you can ensure you always meet the standard.
  • What would an average day look like? It’s one thing to understand the role requirements, and another to know how these will map out day to day. What’s more, this question will show you whether the employer has really thought through how the role will function. 
  • What do new starters find surprising about the role? This is a more creative way of asking what to expect from the job, and will make the interview panel think (always a good thing). 
  • Why did this role become available? Maybe you already know this is a new position for the organisation. If not, this question can reveal a lot about the organisation’s turnover rate and, in turn, whether employees generally like working there. 
  • What will be the biggest challenge facing this role? Again, this shows if the employer has really thought about the realities of the role. But, more importantly, it gives you a chance to show how you would tackle this problem. 
  • What could I expect from the onboarding process, if I was successful? This is a practical question that will help you prepare for your first days and weeks in the role, if you’re successful. 
  • Is flexible working possible with this role? Of course, don’t ask this if you know that remote working isn’t going to be possible due to the job itself, but many more employers are open to such arrangements these days. 
  • Can you tell me about my direct reports? This only applies if your role will involve managing people, as this question is designed to give you an idea of the people you’ll be responsible for.

2. Questions about the company

  • What do you like most about working here? This powerful question reverses the roles, and puts you firmly in the driving seat. On top of this, it will give you an insight into the company culture, and perks you might not have known about. 
  • Who would I work closely with? Understanding where your role fits into the organisation will help you decide if it sounds like a setup you’d be comfortable in. 
  • What are the key goals for the company over the next few years? As well as being useful info to learn, this is another opportunity to highlight how you can contribute. 
  • What are the company’s core values? These values will dictate your daily experience in the organisation, so it’s a good idea to understand what they mean. 
  • Are there social clubs I can join? This is a good question to ask because it shows you’re keen to integrate yourself into the company, and that it isn’t just a salary to you.

3. Questions about development

  • Does the company offer extra training programs or opportunities for growth? This is great because on top of showing you’re keen to learn and grow, it gives the interviewer a chance to show off schemes the company is proud of. 
  • What is the usual progression path for this role? Don’t be afraid to ask where the job could lead you. Ambition is an attractive candidate quality, and it’s important for you to know this position isn’t a dead end. 
  • How does the team learn and develop collectively? As well as your own personal development, you want to make sure that growth and development is embedded in the team’s psyche.

4. Questions about next steps

  • What would be the next steps from here? Pretty much what it says on the tin. The answer to this question will give you an idea of timeframes and other hoops you might need to jump through. 
  • What do you think are my biggest weaknesses regarding the role requirements? This one takes some confidence to ask but is a good question from several perspectives. Firstly, it shows you’re open to feedback and constructive criticism. But, more importantly, it gives you a chance to respond to whatever it is they say, and fill in any gaps that you may not have already covered.

These questions will mean you’re not left umming and ahhing at the end of your job interview. Before heading out on the day itself, make sure your Trade Me Job Profile is up to date – employers like to check candidates’ online presences ahead of interviews, and this is an easy way for them to refresh their knowledge of all your skills and experience in one easy place.