Top 5 Questions to Ask in an Interview

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

Have you ever been in an interview and the time to ask questions comes around but you are sitting there panicked because either the interviewer already answered any salary or company-related questions you prepared or because you didn't write them down and now cannot for the life of you remember them? You are not alone. I have interviewed for a ton of different jobs over the years from my high school days at a pizzeria to my entry-level positions and now at the executive level. I'm not saying this to brag, but I have never not been offered a job after an interview. Seriously. Even in my early days when I didn't have these questions that I am about to share with you in my arsenal, I have always interviewed well and presented a solid case for why I would be an excellent fit. If you utilize the below questions and tips, I guarantee you will find more success than you have previously found.

First, some general tips for rocking an interview and making a lasting impression:

  1. It might seem obvious but dress the part. That doesn't mean a suit in all situations, only most of them. I recommend researching the company and trying to find out how formal or not their culture is. They want to know you can fit in with their vibe, whether that's jeans and sneakers or a suit and tie (though I would highly caution against wearing jeans and sneakers to any interview, regardless of how down to earth the company is). If you can't find out definitively what their dress code is, it's a safe bet to opt for business casual.

  2. Look polished. Look together. Do not look like you just rolled out of bed and didn't brush your hair. Don't wait until the morning to iron your shirt. Get everything ready the night before including your outfit, portfolio(s), car keys, and anything else you might need before you leave.

  3. Always bring an extra resume or two, even if they told you they would print one out for themselves. I cannot tell you how many times the interviewer said, "I can't find where I put your resume, do you have an extra one?" Don't be the chump without the extra resume. The same goes for any cover letter you may have submitted.

  4. Always have something to write on and with. Be prepared and take notes. Act like you are fully ready to step into this role and you're taking notes to review on your first day. I would recommend a nice vehicle for your notepad such as a leather folder or briefcase.

  5. This notepad is also where you will have written your questions for the interviewer. I like to leave this page on top so they can see you have already written something down and make a point of flipping a couple of pages for a blank sheet to take notes. Don't be theatrical, be professional.

  6. Ok, my final tip is this: bring a portfolio. What is a portfolio you may ask? A professional portfolio is a summary of your greatest hits tailored to the job you are applying for. For instance, if you are a recent graduate looking for an entry-level job in your field of study, I would include your diploma along with any awards, honors, and groups you were a part of. I would include case studies you completed that are relevant, I would include your final project or dissertation if applicable. I would definitely include letters of recommendation from your professors. I would include any piece of evidence that you are outstanding. If you aren't a recent grad and have applicable work experience, I would tailor that to the job you are looking for. Showcase your experience and why it makes you the perfect fit for this job.

  7. If you truly want to land that awesome job you are working towards, a portfolio is crucial, and I can help you craft the bomb-diggityest one they've ever laid eyes on.

Question 1: What are the most important tasks or projects you would like me to accomplish in the first three months if I am hired?

Why it works: You are showing initiative. You are interested in the work and preparing to take some tasks or projects off of their plate. This question impresses and it usually takes them by surprise. They have to think for a moment, "What is the most important thing I need her/him to accomplish?" They are visualizing you in the role. Then, when they answer your question, write it down! You are preparing to step into this role. Concentrate and listen carefully to their answer. Now for the impromptu part, tell them how your experience has prepared you to execute those projects or tasks effectively and efficiently. If you can do that last part, they will be hard-pressed not to offer you the job.

Question 2: How do you see my skills & experience fitting in with the needs of {insert company name here}?

Why it works: They are going to tell you why you are a great fit, further cementing to themselves that you are a great fit. Or, if they have concerns about your skills or experience, this is the time they can express it and you can address it.

Question 3: What are the prospects for growth in this position?

Why it works: Every employer hopes their staff stays for a long, long time. Hiring new people costs time and money. This shows them that you are thinking long-term and allows them to showcase what their company has to offer you down the line. This also gives you a clearer picture of what a future might look like there.

Question 4: What do you enjoy most about working here?

Why it works: You are putting them in the position of convincing you that this is a great company to work for by describing why they love it here. You are showing them that you aren't there desperately looking for a job, you want to work somewhere that values its employees, has a rock-solid culture, and makes them excited to go to work every day.

Question 5: Do you have any reservations about hiring me that I can address while I am here?

Why it works: This is the doozy and should always be your last question. They can't skate pleasantly by thanking you for coming in while thinking about why you aren't a good fit (and hopefully after these questions, that is much less likely, but this is the time to eliminate any doubt or confusion). They have to tell you that either they have no reservations and think you are the perfect fit, which is awesome, or describe to you their concerns and allow you to address them. If you can address their concerns effectively and without getting defensive, this can make the difference between getting the job or not. Their points may be completely valid, and you should note that. If your experience is lacking in some area, have a statement for this moment as your closer. For example, "I understand that my experience is shorter than what you are looking for; however, I have shown excellence at the responsibilities you have outlined at my prior and current positions in a shorter period of time. I am a rapid learner and a dedicated employee. If you allow me to work for this company, I promise/guarantee that I will execute my duties as well as or better than someone with more experience." It's your hail mary pass, but if you can say it confidently and with steady eye contact, it can be a game-changer.

  • A note on this question. If you feel that they are brushing you off by saying that they don't have any reservations, I encourage you to press further respectfully. Something to the effect of, "I am committed to learning how I can present myself more effectively. I would greatly appreciate it if you could share with me any concerns you have about my experience, skills, or presentation." If they brush you off again, just know that you did your absolute best and it's their loss.

Final tip: Your exit is just as important as your entrance. Don't rush out. Take your things in your left hand/arm to leave your right hand free. Smile, maintain eye contact, thank them for the opportunity to meet with them, and shake their hand firmly and with confidence.

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