The best questions to ask at a job interview

Collection of 40+ questions to ask at a job interview with a PDF to download.

Disclosure: not written by ChatGPT! Bookmark this page because it will be updated and useful for you when you need it. Questions are role agnostic.

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Executive summary:

  1. do your research (Google, LinkedIn, rating sites, limited ChatGPT)
  2. prepare several questions
  3. follow-up if needed

🥳 Congratulations, you made it to the interview! These will differ in different companies, but your preparation can be identical. The mental model to apply is simple:

if you were the one interviewing, what would you look for?

– someone who read How to Win Friends and Influence People

Humans are complex, but you will always do well with the simple idea of showing genuine interest in others.

In the case of landing a job, this means showing interest:

  1. in the company (=what do they do), and
  2. in the interviewer (=who are they and what can you learn about them).

Having good questions will also help you decide if you ACTUALLY want to work for the company or not.

“Did you do your research?”

To cover your base, google (+LinkedIn!) the sh*t out of the company because it will help you at every stage of the interviews. Do not be afraid to have a long look at your interviewer’s LinkedIn profile and company rating sites (but take those with a grain of salt!).

This research will enable you to come up with cool questions that will show that you:

  1. know what they do (e.g. products, competitors, challenges)
  2. also researched the latest news and developments.

Preparation will demonstrate that you are curious, willing to go the extra mile, and generally give a shit. You can sprinkle the facts you learned while talking and presenting yourself, for example:

I applied because I want to work in an ambitious scale-up with high growth potential as <company name>. It looks really promising…

– someone applying after a fat Series C in a low interest environment

I wanted to test your product and experimented a bit in the last days…

– someone who really knows that DOING also matters

Looking at your product made me wonder what your approach is to design…

– someone who knows the Norman Door

And so on. What matters is genuine interest and a walk in their shoes: what would matter to you if you were them? Also, say someone you would be interviewing would be bullshiting to you; how would you feel?

Don’t force it: keep it genuine.

Research done? On to questions.

I hope you are interviewing with a normal company! They will sooner or later tell you: “Any questions?” To stand out, prepare a couple TO ENSURE you have at least one ready for the end of the interview! Nothing worse than, “No, everything is clear.” (unless you already realised you don’t want to work for them)

If the interviewer is good and does interviews as a conversation over a coffee, you might even squeeze some in during your chat. And remember: the smoother, the better.

Three rules on a yellow background to remember:

  1. People love to talk about themselves; give them a chance.
  2. You will only have a couple of minutes to ask away.
  3. Prepare a selection of questions, and DO NOT ONLY ask about benefits and compensation!

For your convenience, I roughly categorized the questions. But this treasure works in any way. Check them all and design your own; think about what matters to you and ASK! Bonus points if you can incorporate the latest company news or the context from the interview.

Good luck! Let me know how it went! 🙏
Also, share this with someone who would find it useful!

(questions last updated on the 12.5.2023)

a. Screening Interview with the Recruiter

This is a shorter interview where the recruiter just wants to ensure you are normal and more or less fit the requirements. But it is also a good opportunity to see how the company ticks; this is also where they will ask for your salary expectations.

  1. What do you like the most in the company?
  2. Why should I join?
  3. (one more from the list below)

b. Generally Cool

(if your interviewer does something special/has a special hobby, ask about it, like “How come you won the Iron Man?”, “Since when…”)

  1. Why do you like to show up each day?
  2. Why is this position open?
  3. Why do you think I should join?
  4. Why/where did my predecessor leave?
  5. What are my development and growth options if I do my job really well?
  6. How can I have a meaningful impact?
  7. What would be your expectation in my first 100 days?

c. About the Company

  1. What does the future look like for the company?
  2. What would you change in the way your company is run?
  3. Your mission statement states, “<mission/values statement>.” Do you maybe have any examples how does this look like in practice?
  4. On the <Company review websites> I have seen a lot of mixed comments. Are there any particular reasons for that?

d. About Roles and Responsibilities

  1. What is the biggest priority now?
  2. How would my performance measured? What are the key performance indicators for this role?
  3. How do you set the annual/quarterly goals?
  4. What will be my biggest challenge in this role? And for the team? How will I be able to contribute?
  5. Why would you recommend this role to your children or nephews?

e. About the Team and also Company

  1. What was the recent success of your team? How would my role fit into that?
  2. What is the decision-making process in the team? How do you generate and implement ideas?
  3. What is your approach to flexible working? Can I work from <insert>?
  4. How do you approach the testing and validation of new ideas?
  5. How does your team work together?
  6. Who are the main stakeholders of the team?
  7. How is the team I will be joining seen in the organisation?
  8. What is the average tenure of employees? How long do people stay in the team?

f. Compensation / Interview process

  1. What are the salary review cycles? How do they work?
  2. How is overtime treated? (but be careful here, you should not appear lazy!)
  3. When can I expect to hear back? What are the next steps?

g. In Startups, Scale-ups

  1. How does my role contribute to the growth plans?
  2. What is more important at the moment: operations or growth?
  3. What would you say is the current biggest pain point?
  4. How do stock options/equity compensation work? What are the conditions, vesting period, and lockups?
  5. What is your runway? Are you profitable? If not, what is the path to profitability?
  6. Did you have any pivots? Why?
  7. What is the product/market/expansion you are most excited about?
  8. Have you found your product-market fit? When? How far away do you feel you are?
  9. Were there any recent layoffs? What were the criteria? Which teams were most affected?

h. In Big Corporations

Some of these are Germany/EU specific!

  1. Do you offer any additional pension benefits? How does it work?
  2. What is the salary band structure? Where is this position placed?
  3. What are my upper compensation limits in the salary band?
  4. What are my possible career paths?
  5. Do I need to pass an assessment center to become a team lead?
  6. Do you have any special programs for a sabbatical?
  7. What are your work-from-home policies?

Bonus: Additional conversation with your future boss

One good option is to ask for an additional chat with the hiring manager in case you have several questions unanswered or, after a reflection, conclude that you would like more info. This will show you really care, and you could also pack it in your thank you for the interview e-mail, for example:

Thank you so much for your time today/yesterday, mister future boss.

I really enjoyed our talk. After some reflection I would have a couple of additional questions, so I was wondering if we could schedule another 30 min chat?

Thank you again and have a great day,
Application Tiger

In sum: always come prepared.

Good preparation will make you more confident and enable you to understand the other side better; their answers will also signal what to expect. If you have doubts or questions, clarify them as soon as they arise. You do not want to have regrets after three months, do you? And remember, your gut feeling is usually right.

Now go and get that job!

– your handpicked questions coach

All these questions in a PDF

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