It’s important to remember that every interview is a two-way street. You should be interviewing the employer just as much as they’re interviewing you because you both need to walk away convinced that the job would be a great fit.
So when the tables are turned and the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” take advantage of this opportunity. It’s the best way to determine if you’d be happy working for this employer, and whether your goals are aligned with theirs.
“The very process of asking questions completely changes the dynamic of the interview and the hiring manager’s perception of you,” says Teri Hockett, chief executive of What’s For Work?, a career site for women. “Asking questions also gives you the opportunity to discover details that you might not have otherwise unveiled.”
Amy Hoover, president of TalentZoo, says there’s another reason you should always prepare questions. “It’s expected — and if you don’t ask at least two questions, you will appear disinterested, or worse, less intelligent and engaged than a prospective employer would like.” You should have at least four questions prepared, though, in case your original two are answered through the course of the interview.
But, Hoover says, don’t just ask questions for the sake of it. To actually benefit from them, you’ll need to think carefully about what you want to ask.
“Your questions can, in fact, make or break an interview,” she explains. “If they’re not thoughtful, or if you ask something that has already been addressed, this can hurt you way more than it can help. Asking smart, engaging questions is imperative.”
Luckily, there are plenty of smart ones to pick from.
Here are 29 questions you should always ask in a job interview — if they weren’t already answered — to help you get a better sense of the role and the company, and to leave the interview with a positive, lasting impression:
Vivian Giang contributed to a previous version of this article.
Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?
Hoover recommends this question because it’s a quick way to figure out whether your skills align with what the company is currently looking for. If they don’t match up, then you know to walk away instead of wasting time pursuing the wrong position for yourself, she says.
Who would I be reporting to? Are those three people on the same team or on different teams? What’s the pecking order?
It’s important to ask about the pecking order of a company in case you have several bosses, Vicky Oliver writes in her book, “301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions.”
If you’re going to be working for several people, you need to know “the lay of the internal land,” she says, or if you’re going to be over several people, then you probably want to get to know them before accepting the position.
How has this position evolved?
Basically, this question just lets you know whether this job is a dead end or a stepping-stone.