How to answer the dreaded 'Do you have any questions' question in interviews...

colemiccolemic Member Posts: 1,568 ■■■■■■■□□□
I found this article, thought I'd share.
(text below)

Earlier this month, I was interviewing a prospective designer for my company. The candidate asked, "Who does wireframing for your app, the product team or the design team?" A simple question. But it kicked off a great discussion about our processes and how he could contribute to the team.

I remember thinking, "Hey, we are already working together..." This candidate is now an employee and a good fit for our company. His simple question opened the doors for us to have a genuine conversation about each other's motivations, needs, passions, and work philosophies. In my 20-plus years in the recruitment industry, I am still surprised by how rare this crucial conversation is in a job interview.

There's no doubt candidates who ask questions have a better chance at landing their dream job. Here are eight of the best questions I've heard from candidates:

1. What role will I fill?

When it comes to an employee's role in a business's strategy, the job title explains only so much. You are filling a void on the living, breathing team. Is this company hoping for an ideas person, a mentor to other employees, a creative force, a rule follower, a rule breaker? Get to the specifics of "who" your position is supposed to be.

2. Why does this role matter to the growth of the company?

Use this question to explore the expected level of engagement. Are you more comfortable being in a low- or a high-impact role? Do you want to be in a role that is universally respected within the company or are you OK being the undercover hero?

3. Who would my colleagues be?

The best interviews include three to four team members. If that is not the case in your interview, use this question to gain insight into team dynamics and personalities. These are the people you will spend every day with, so they need to pass what Tom Gimbel calls "the airplane test"--someone you would enjoy sitting next to on a long flight.

4. What would I be doing that makes your job easier?

This question has two benefits--you will find out who is going to lean on you the heaviest and what you will need to do to keep the other teammates happy. The answers to this question will be the immediate problems each team member is hoping you will solve.

5. What are additional important skills I will need to do this job well?

What are the soft skills needed for this particular job? Find out if the company needs someone who is also a self-starter or works well in teams. This is also an excellent time to bring up any additional skills you have that are appropriate for position.

6. How does the company measure success?

Identifying how your progress in this position will be measured will give you a better idea of whether or not you will be successful. Get specifics on what your deliverables will be per project. Ask about common work habits of people who have had this position in the past whom the company considered successful.

7. What would you expect from me this month, in three months, and in a year?

Chances are that your employer has a trajectory for your role in mind. Find out what you will need to deliver in the next coming months. Ask yourself if this pace feels doable for the way you work.

8. What is your mission?

This is one of the most important questions you can ask. Research shows that employees are most happy when their goals align with those of their employers. Get philosophical here and find out why you are both here in this room and if you want the same things.

Repeat your questions for each hiring manager you meet, because you will get different responses from different people. As a CEO, I am often the last person in the round of interviews. It happens time and time again that I will say, "Do you have any questions for me?" and get a polite "No, I got a lot of my questions answered."

I didn't get my questions answered though. Keep the conversation going. If you want to work for my company, you have to ask for it.
Working on: CCSP, definitely, maybe. On the twitters: @mcole1008


  • Justin-Justin- Member Posts: 300
    Very nice thread, this is great because I actually have a phone interview for a company tomorrow.

    Thanks, I will definitely be asking a few of these questions to my 'potential employer' tomorrow. And also if they ask me for personal projects, what kind of projects can I mention? It is somewhat of a helpdesk internship position, so I'm not sure what I could say just in case to be prepared for that question. I have built a computer from scratch, hardware/software installation. That's all I can really think of in terms of this position.

    Thank you for the post.
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    I don't see why this is a dreaded question. Just honestly ask any questions you have. Not really a big deal. No need to go in there with some set of canned questions from the internet.
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • tkerbertkerber Member Posts: 223
    I agree with networker, but I would even take it a step further and say that this is when the interview actually starts... If you get through an entire interview and have no questions for the interviewer at the end--you probably won't get the job.

    I always use this time to interview the interviewer about the company, culture, outlook, or anything you can't get from Google. I want to know if this is a place I will actually want to work at. I've had interviews in the past where when I start interviewing them the answers provided turned me away almost immediately.
  • Danielm7Danielm7 Member Posts: 2,306 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Yep, I ask questions that I want to know the answer to, not really the same canned ones. I try to research the company as much as I can, that usually helps me form my questions. For example, I recently interviewed with a company and some researched turned up that they purchased a few smaller companies lately. So I asked q question about that, but ones that would show me how the company handles things. It showed that I was interested but also that I did my homework on the company. I ALWAYS ask about company culture because it's very important to me. For example, I don't want to be 100% siloed where I can't even access the other IT groups and where every question has to go through 7 levels of management just to get an answer. I asked that at my last interview and they described exactly how I like to work, if they had said otherwise I would know it wasn't a good fit for me.

    As always, job interviews aren't just for them to see if they like you, but also the other way around.
  • iBrokeITiBrokeIT GICSP, GCIP, GXPN, GPEN, GWAPT, GCFE, GCIA, GCIH, GSEC, CySA+, Sec+, eJPT Member Posts: 1,309 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Do you have any concerns about my ability to successfully do this job?

    How do you measure success for this role / what metrics will I be evaluated on?

    What sort of professional development resources do you offer your IT department to stay current on technology?

    Is there an on call rotation? How is the on call notified? What systems are covered by the on call?

    What do you like/don't like about working for Company X?

    I also check for reviews and sometimes have additional questions based off of those reviews.
    2019: GPEN | GCFE | GXPN | GICSP | CySA+ 
    2020: GCIP | GCIA | eCPPT | eWPT | eCTHP

    WGU BS IT-NA | SANS Grad Cert: PT&EH | SANS Grad Cert: ICS Security
  • colemiccolemic Member Posts: 1,568 ■■■■■■■□□□
    @networker I posted this to get others to think about questions that they could ask their potential employer in an interview. Personally I always try to ask something, but I know I have given the 'no, I think everything has been covered before' response. For me the article is beneficial in making me think differently, and to recognize avenues that I may not have otherwise thought to explore in the interview, not to just use the same canned questions.
    Working on: CCSP, definitely, maybe. On the twitters: @mcole1008
  • TheFORCETheFORCE Senior Member Member Posts: 2,298 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Very informative thread. I'll make sure i ask those questions in the future. But i did have a phone interview earlier today and asked my interviewer "How large is the user community and the environment that i will be supporting?"
  • BradleyHUBradleyHU Member Posts: 918 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I don't see why this is a dreaded question. Just honestly ask any questions you have. Not really a big deal. No need to go in there with some set of canned questions from the internet.


    i always have a few questions I want know beforehand anyways, and then also during the interview, i'll have a few more from what has been discussed...
    Link Me
    Graduate of the REAL HU & #1 HBCU...HAMPTON UNIVERSITY!!! #shoutout to c/o 2004
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  • yeah yeahyeah yeah Member Posts: 77 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I don't see why this is a dreaded question. Just honestly ask any questions you have. Not really a big deal. No need to go in there with some set of canned questions from the internet.

    This. Most of the questions that take place in an interview are evaluating your skillset and responses to particular situations. The discussion that takes place during the interview rarely covers the day-to-day duties, expectations, or even the environment. If you fail to ask about this, well...
  • SyntaxSyntax Member Posts: 61 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Yes it is always a good idea to ask questions during an interview. While many times it seems like a one-sided equation... the interviewer asks the questions, the interviewee answers them.. It's important to ask the right questions. Not only will it show you are truly interested in the position and the company... I think more importantly it will give you a better impression that YOU think you will be a good fit for the job.

    Unfortunately, I discovered that the hard way. I've taken positions in the past where I wish I would've asked more questions and received a better idea of my job responsibilities and company culture.

    Thank you colemic for posting this. While it may seem rudimentary to some to ask questions during an interview, it helps to have some ideas for well-worded questions that may not have been considered before.
  • NersesianNersesian Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 96 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Huh....I love this part of an interview and am more than happy to burn up the rest of the day asking questions about the company I'm interviewing with. Interviews are like first dates. You might have some chemistry, there may be a spark and maybe a promise of something greater down the road. You're probably going to want to ask some poignant questions about the person/company you're thinking about spending a lot of time with. Find out how they operate...find out why their last relationship didn't work out and definitely find out if they have some incurable STD.

    *full disclose, I've been married a long time and am not sure if this analogy still works. I don't think I can swipe right or left yet on a company though.
  • pinkydapimppinkydapimp Member Posts: 732 ■■■■■□□□□□
    yea i think people forget that the interview process goes both ways. You should be interviewing them. This is to ensure the position is what they say and that you can do your best to ensure its a place where you can thrive. I keep seeing threads here where people take jobs and then it wasnt what they thought it would be and they want to leave. You can usually avoid this by asking questions before you take the job. So ask lots of questions.
  • MeanDrunkR2D2MeanDrunkR2D2 MCSA: Server 2012, MCITP: EDA KCMember Posts: 897 ■■■■■□□□□□
    Asking questions is a huge part. It's one way to gauge if it's a place you even want to work for, much less if the position is exactly the match you want it to be. I always ask questions. Of course, I usually let them address the benefits part. But by asking questions it lets them know that you are interested and that you are doing your due diligence to make sure that you will enjoy your time with them. Now, if you don't ask questions, they can and will likely take it as you not really caring and just wanting the job and that you may be not as social or personable with others in your team.
  • ElementaryOSElementaryOS Member Posts: 65 ■■□□□□□□□□
    This thread is pure gold! Thanks OP!
  • MowMow Member Posts: 445 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Thread resurrection.

    I don't see anything wrong with having a working list of standard questions about a position. Do your research, try to find the answers on your own. Any questions that haven't been answered, as well as new ones that you think of while researching or during the interview, can be written in your notepad and asked during this portion of the interview.

    I haven't interviewed seriously in quite a while, but will be soon, so I will be going through this process to prepare on my end. I will post again when I have my comprehensive list of questions to ask.
  • dustervoicedustervoice Member Posts: 877 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Questions are always good to ask in interviews as it shows interest in the position and organisation but it should not be robotic .. Questions should flow within context of the discussion. Ask questions as the interview progresses not at the end where it will appear that you are mechanical.
  • jeremywatts2005jeremywatts2005 CySA,S+,A+,N+Cloud+,MSDFS,MSMISSM Member Posts: 346 ■■■■□□□□□□
    One set of questions I would shy away from in the initial interview portions are ones about on-call, vacation, time off and other related areas. The reason why it could be seen that you are trying to determine how little you are going to work. This may be a negative to some companies and the question about on call could raise a question about you being a team player. Try to focus on questions that are related to the company and the operation of the department in the company. For instance I ask questions like:

    What are the some of the challenges your department, group, team or whatever are facing? ( I ask this question a lot the answer may surprise you. For instance one company I asked said it was finding qualified individuals to fill the roles. Bingo now I have a leg up on any salary negotiations later on)

    What are the next steps after this one? (This gives you an idea on the hiring timeline. It also shows confidence you have done well in the interview and you have interest in going forward. It also could reveal the hiring managers interest. Sometimes you will get surprising results like when they are going to setup your next interview or if they seem indifferent maybe things did not go well. This can help during the wait.)

    What are the plans for expansion in technology ? (This gives you insight into growth. Usually they are not specific, but it unveils more about where you are going to fit now and in the future. For instance they mention nothing about installing and setting up a new SIEM in the job description. After asking this question they indicate they are headed in this direction. This could be a good discussion point for you to key in on if you had the experience with the SIEM they are talking about)

    What is the turnover rate and average length of employment within the group? (This is to establish satisfaction of the employees. If you are told the job is a turn style and they keep hiring over and over then you may want to shy away from the job. If they say longevity then ask why? The why could lead you to benefits, on call and so on. )

    These are some I have asked and remember try to keep the interview moving toward the future and how well you fit.
  • actionhank1786actionhank1786 Member Posts: 34 ■■□□□□□□□□
    What are the plans for expansion in technology ? (This gives you insight into growth. Usually they are not specific, but it unveils more about where you are going to fit now and in the future. For instance they mention nothing about installing and setting up a new SIEM in the job description. After asking this question they indicate they are headed in this direction. This could be a good discussion point for you to key in on if you had the experience with the SIEM they are talking about)

    I really like the idea of asking about this. It could give you the potential to not only learn what they're planning to work towards in the future (Maybe you're a VMware guy, and they said they're moving all towards Hyper-V, might cause you to re-think the spot) and also, maybe they mention something in the answer that wasn't mentioned on the job description or previously in the interview. Might give you the chance to say "Oh, you're switching over to X system? That's great. I actually helped move to that system in the past at X job". Now in their eyes, you may have just become that much more valuable, and at the same time, it can help if you get the offer and are trying to negotiate salary.
  • Nightflier101BLNightflier101BL Member Posts: 134 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I usually try to integrate most of my questions into the entire process. I'll save a few for the end for when they ask me, but I don't usually like to rattle off a list of questions at the end of an interview - it just feels awkward and rehearsed. I like to ask questions that keep a good dialogue going back and forth and that I can incorporate situations and scenarios I've worked on in the past.

    As far as the final questions, I like to know what kind of qualities they look for in a successful employee, what a typical day would be like, company goals and upcoming projects, etc.

    Just ask what you would naturally want to know about the place in which you would be working.
  • Russell77Russell77 Member Posts: 161
    I love questions 4 and 5. Imparting that you are there to make life better for those around you is one of the best messages you can get across. Question 8 could backfire if the company has no mission it kind of puts the interviewer on the spot trying to defend the company.
  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,029 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I have a few,

    1. What time is Lunch? How do you feel about employees taking two hour lunches?

    2. What's your policy on drug use, it's OK so long as you not High at work right?

    3. How's your long term disability plan? My back really been bothering me lately.

    4. Are you going to finish that doughnut? I haven't eaten in days.

    5. You look just amazing, do you have dinner plans tonight?
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • alias454alias454 Member Posts: 648
    made me LOL ^^^-- I bet if you ask any of those your next questions will be "Do you want fries with that?
    “I do not seek answers, but rather to understand the question.”
  • LionelTeoLionelTeo Member Posts: 526 ■■■■■■■□□□
    If the interview goes well. I would usually ask "if I got selected, what are the arrangement that the team had that would help me to handle the new job duties as soon as possible". Give some insight about the culture and express the interest at the same time.
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