Asking questions in an interview gives you key insights and shows your interest in the opportunity. But you may be unsure what questions to ask or in what order.

The following guide can help. Read on for:

  • Sources you can use to research the job and generate targeted questions
  • Examples of great questions to ask in a job interview
  • Tips on deepening your discussion with the hiring manager

Research the Opportunity

Your best interview questions will spring from any research you can do about the job and company beforehand. As time allows, prepare for each interview by closely reviewing these sources:

  • The job posting
  • The “About” page of the company’s website (as well as any parent company)
  • Any other relevant pages on the company’s website. These may include the main “Careers” page, which often has good general information on the advantages of working for the company. Key pages may also include a recent press release about a product launch or the home page for the team or department where you’d work.
  • Recent news articles about the company. Search in Google’s “News” tab, where you can specify a current date range by clicking the “Tools” button.
  • Business websites and publications like Bloomberg, Barron’s, Yahoo Finance, Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal. These sites have individual pages and news updates for many midsize and large companies. (For any publications you don’t subscribe to that have paywalls, you may still be able to access full-text articles via your local library.)
  • Value Line reports on recent company mergers and developments. Ask your local library if it offers access to this paid resource.
  • General information about the company’s industry, sector, or products if you aren’t already familiar with them. When researching topics online, remember Wikipedia pages are unverified information, so you shouldn’t rely on them exclusively. But Wikipedia is often a great portal to official outside links and information.

Note: Also consider reviewing publicly available details about your interviewer, such as their bio on the company’s website or LinkedIn profile.

Reviewing information from the above sources, highlight anything that sparks your curiosity. Jot down a related question to ask during the interview.

For example, say you’re interviewing for an outside sales job. Through your research, you find a press release announcing that the company is working on an innovative new product category. But it’s unclear when the product will be officially launched or available to customers. You could ask:

  • I was intrigued to learn your team will be selling the [name] product class soon. Do you know when your company’s version will be hitting the market?

Inquire About the Company

In addition to your research-backed questions, ask about an employer’s overall work culture and goals. This is often a great line of questioning toward the end of the interview. It places the job in context and shows you’re invested in the overall success of an organization. Also, it lets the interviewer give you more of their personal perspective, taking the conversation beyond the scope of detail in the job posting. Consider asking one or more of these questions:

  • How would you describe the company’s work culture?
  • Why do people enjoy working here? Why do you personally like working here?
  • How does the organization define success and evaluate employee performance?
  • What is the company’s core mission, and why? Do certain values or principles inform that mission?
  • How does the company define or distinguish itself from competitors?
  • What is the company’s overall strategy for staff training and professional development?
  • How does the organization incorporate ideas and requests from employees at different levels?
  • Does the company have a particular method for new product development and project management?
  • What is the management team’s leadership approach or philosophy?
  • How has the organization evolved during your tenure? What broad changes have you seen?
  • Where do you see the company headed in the short and long term? Are there broad changes underway that would affect my position?

If some of these questions seem forward, remember the basic purpose of a job interview: to figure out if you and the hiring company are a good fit. So you’ll need to answer the interviewer’s questions about your background. But it also means the interviewer will need to answer your questions about what it’s like to work there. Only by this two-way understanding can you each make a decision in everyone’s best interest.

Clarify Details About the Job

Before each interview, jot down any remaining questions you have on the job itself. These will help you fill any information gaps on the job posting, giving you a clear sense of what the role entails. For example:

  • What does a typical workday look like for this position? Is there wide variation or a strong sense of routine?
  • What is the biggest or most frequent challenge for this position?
  • How is success in the position measured? What performance metrics are most closely evaluated by management?
  • Does the workflow tend to fluctuate annually or seasonally?
  • What is the expected or required ratio of time working at the office versus from home? (Note: When asking this question, emphasize your flexibility for different work schedules.)
  • Who does the position report to directly and indirectly? What is the expected level of contact or collaboration?
  • Is the role more independent or collaborative? If the latter, which team members or departments would I partner with most?

Always view these questions in light of your research and frame them accordingly. Below are two examples of how you could phrase a question in the context of research you’ve done:

  • In looking over your corporate website, I was struck by your expansion to five new markets in the past three years. Is that the biggest change in your time with the company so far?
  • I saw on the careers page that your company has a quarterly plan for formal staff training and development. Can you tell me more about how this plan works and how it applies to this department’s schedule?

Clarify Next Steps

At the end of your interview, inquire about next steps in the hiring process. Questions in this vein may include:

  • What is the timeframe for the next stage of hiring? If I’m selected, would there be another round of interviews?
  • Should I plan on hearing from you directly or from someone else once a decision has been made?
  • Should I expect to hear by phone or email? (But emphasize you’re flexible in this regard. Confirm the interviewer has your right contact information and knows the best times to reach you.)

Frequently Asked Questions About What To Ask in an Interview

What if the interviewer already answered most of my questions?-

Tell them so. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions for them, say something like, “I had some areas I was hoping to clarify, but we’ve covered most of them.” This type of comment is a courteous way to show the interviewer you were listening and the information they shared was helpful.

How can I deepen the interview discussion?-

Any question you ask is a yes/no, who, what, when, where, why, or how. Keep in mind “why” and “how” tend to open and enrich a conversation, while the others usually just provide facts and context.

For example, you could ask the interviewer when and where the company started. But when they answer plainly (“I believe the company was founded in Buffalo in the mid-1970s.”), the conversation may seem at a dead end. A more interesting way to learn from and engage with the interviewer is to ask them how the company has grown or evolved or why it’s been successful in its market.

What questions should I avoid asking?-

Any that are already answered in the job posting. When you ask for information the employer already provided, it tells them you haven’t fully prepared, and your interest in the position may be limited. To avoid this pitfall, closely review the job posting one more time right before each interview.

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