It’s a relatively easy question that can catch you off-guard when you’re interviewing for a job: “Do you have any questions?” In most situations, you should.
Asking a recruiter or hiring manager questions when you’re interviewing for a job makes you seem prepared and enthusiastic about a position. Plus, it can help you glean useful information that will allow you to make an informed decision about a job.
Job interviews are a two-way street, meaning you’re also interviewing the company to make sure it’s a fit for you, explains Danny Roberts, Senior Technical Recruiter at Codecademy. “A lot of people go into interviews and are so eager and solely focused on proving themselves that they forget to do the homework to figure out if it's actually a place they really want to be,” he says.
Asking the right types of questions — not just fluffy throwaway ones — can give you insight into the company that you may not get from a recruiter alone. (After all, it’s a recruiter’s job to paint a positive picture of the company so that you want to work there.)
Here are some sample questions you can ask the next time you’re interviewing for a job.
What are your company values? Can you give me a couple of examples of how you see that carried out in your organization?
If you ask a vague question about the “company culture,” there’s a good chance a recruiter or hiring manager will tell you about the company perks or the popular Slack channels. Framing your question around company “values” and asking for specific examples will give you an idea of whether or not a company practices what it preaches, Danny says.
How does your company manage remote operations?
When you’re interviewing for a fully remote position, it’s important to understand what kind of policies and expectations the employer has for your virtual workplace. “A company that is managing remote operations well is setting boundaries and is very clear about onboarding,” Danny says. For example, are there no-meeting days? Do you have set working hours? Will you get a stipend to outfit your WFH setup?
“A lot of people are getting burned out because they’re at organizations with poor remote boundaries, and it's leaving people permanently on a hamster wheel,” Danny says.
What's the average tenure of employees at this company?
This question can potentially reveal turnover, which is the rate at which people join and leave the company, Danny says. If there’s high turnover (meaning people typically don’t last long), that could hint at the instability of the company, managerial issues, or a lack of work-life balance. If the answer gives you pause, don’t be afraid to ask a follow-up question about why they think this is.
Does your company promote internally often, and is there a defined career ladder?
A career ladder is a formal process at an organization that allows people to advance and progress in their roles. Ideally, you want a recruiter to be able to provide recent examples of impactful internal promotion, Danny says. The answer to this question will tell you how serious an organization is about developing its talent.
If you could wave a magic wand and greatly improve a process, strategy, or execution, what would that be and why?
While a recruiter probably won’t spill all the tea about the pain points within the company, this question can highlight areas where the organization needs to grow. The question is kind of like a filter that will help you identify if it’s a match in terms of values, leadership, lifestyle, and work-life balance. “It may also help candidates consider blind spots to think about through onboarding, should they join,” Danny says.
What brought you here? Is there anything you’re working on that you’re particularly excited about?
Asking about a recruiter or hiring manager’s personal experience or path to the company might elicit a more genuine response than asking a broad question about the company, Danny says. “You can get personal with a recruiter and ask what gets them excited,” he says. You’ll get a glimpse into people’s morale, or how they feel about the work they’re doing.
What are key traits your organization looks for in leadership hiring?
Regardless of your level, you should get a general sense of the style of leadership at an organization, including its potential strengths, weaknesses, and pitfalls at an organizational level, Danny says.
Can you share a little bit about the financial situation with the company?
“There’s a certain degree of challenge and chaos at every startup — that’s to be expected,” Danny says. But in some cases, you might be compelled to ask about the company’s financial health, for example, if you’re applying for a high-level role or the company was recently in the news.
Someone should be able to communicate a “clearly developed strategy and roadmap” for the company, Danny says. If you hear mixed messages or shifting narratives, that could be a sign that there’s a lot of sugar-coating going on, he says. All the more reason to do some research on the company ahead of time.
Do you have a timeline for the next steps?
Avoid getting ghosted by a recruiter or hiring manager and ask for details on the timeline and next steps at the end of your interview. For example, will there be a technical interview? At what stage will they want to see your portfolio? The more transparent they are about the next steps, the more relaxed you can feel about your status.
Want more job-search advice? Here are some tips for tackling job interview nerves, plus what to put on your LinkedIn profile to get noticed. And if you decide to take a new job, here’s how to make connections and bond with your team when you’re fully remote. For even more tools, resources, and support, check out our Career Center.