Interviewer Questions: What to Ask and to Avoid

Interviews are a two-way street. Although most of the time, interviewees are in a passive position, during an interview, you can take the initiative and ask the interviewer questions to gain a comprehensive understanding of the company and determine whether it's a good fit for you.

Questions You Must Not Ask

Interviewer being annoyed during the interview

When the interviewer asks, "Do you have any questions?" they aren't just being polite. They are assessing whether you have a career plan, how much you know about the position, and evaluating your emotional intelligence.

1. Don't Ask Basic Questions

The question-and-answer session is part of the interview where the interviewer assesses the interviewee. It's essential not to ask basic or rookie questions. Ask insightful questions to show that you have a reasonable understanding of the company and the position.

For example, asking, "What qualities are essential for success in this role?" exposes the fact that you didn't thoroughly research the job requirements before the interview. This can leave a negative impression on the interviewer. Before asking any questions, ask yourself if you could find the answer online. If the answer is yes, don't ask that question.

2. Don't Ask Irrelevant Questions

The question-and-answer session is not intended to establish rapport between the interviewee and the interviewer. Even if the interviewer seems friendly, don't ask questions that are unrelated to the job. Questions like, "Are there many women in your company?" are unrelated to the job and will make the interviewer feel that you can't provide more value to the company.

3. Don't Ask Unanswerable Questions

During an interview, there may be some questions that an interviewer might find sensitive to answer, or they simply might not have the answer to your question. It's best to avoid asking such questions to maintain a professional and positive impression.There are some questions that might be too sensitive for the interviewer to answer or the interviewer simply does not have an answer to your question. 

For example: 

  1. "Why is your company laying off employees or who are my competitors?" 

  2. "What are your thoughts on the future of the XX industry?" 

  3. "Why didn't you choose to switch jobs?" 

4. Legal or Sensitive Information

Avoid asking questions related to sensitive or confidential company data. Inquiring about such topics can raise concerns about your discretion and ability to handle sensitive information.

  1. Can you share details about the company's upcoming product launches or strategies that haven't been made public yet?"

  2. "What is the company's contingency plan in case of a major data breach or security incident?"

Questions You Can Ask

Interviewer saying ‘ok’

Asking the right questions can boost your chances during an interview. To avoid any missteps, consider asking questions in the following categories.

1. Career Development

Asking questions about your career development with the company is usually a safe choice. However, be cautious about questions related to salary and benefits, as these might give the impression that you're only interested in what you'll get from the company.

You can ask questions like: 

  1. "What is the growth potential for this role?" 

  2. "What goals would you most like me to achieve in the next few months?"

Asking questions about your career development demonstrates that you are a candidate with a clear career plan and long-term goals, rather than someone attending an interview on a whim.

2. Company Culture

Asking questions related to company culture can also be beneficial. Asking in-depth questions about company culture is an entry point. Every interviewer will say that the company culture is great. Providing examples to illustrate this is even better because it demonstrates that the company culture is real and you can see it in action. This question helps you decide if you're willing to work for the company and also helps the interviewer determine if you'll fit into the company culture.

For example, you can ask: 

  1. "Does the company provide training for technical positions?" 

  2. "How does the company encourage long-term employees?"

3. Teamwork and Collaboration

Asking about the team structure and collaboration helps you understand the work environment and your role within it. It shows your interest in becoming an effective team member and can provide insight into the dynamics you'll be working in.

I hope this article helps you navigate interviews and ultimately succeed.

For example, you can ask: 

  1. "How does the company promote a diverse and inclusive work environment?"

  2. "Could you provide examples of how the company's core values are reflected in the day-to-day work and decision-making?"

4. Expectations and Performance 

Inquiring about key performance indicators and tasks demonstrates your commitment to meeting or exceeding expectations. It also allows you to visualize your responsibilities and gauge the level of accountability expected in the position.

For example, you can ask: 

  • "What are the short-term and long-term goals for this department or team, and how does this role contribute to achieving those goals?"

  • "How often are performance reviews conducted, and what does the evaluation process look like for someone in this position?"

In Summary

In conclusion, interviews are a critical phase in the job application process, and asking the right questions can make a significant difference in your success. It's important to avoid asking basic, irrelevant, or unanswerable questions and to steer clear of sensitive or confidential inquiries. 

Instead, focus on questions related to career development, company culture, teamwork, and performance expectations to demonstrate your genuine interest and suitability for the role.