Questions for candidates to ask in an interview

questionA lot of people ask “what are good questions to ask as a candidate?”  I am sure there are position, field and industry questions that are specific to each interview so I am not going there.  But I will touch on some good general questions you can ask.

First, think of your questions as ingredients.  Did you know that in the states the ingredients on food are listed in order of quantity from greatest to least.  Yep, shampoo is usually mostly water.  You questions are usually viewed the same way be recruiters and hiring managers.  Ask about benefits first and it seems that benefits are the most important thing to you.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think benefits are important but not more important than other things to consider.

Also, tweak your questions so they show you have done your research on the company.  Let’s look at these two examples if you happen to be interviewing with the largest recruiter of recent college graduates in the U.S., Enterprise Holdings, Inc.

General culture question:  What is the culture like at Enterprise?

Targeted culture question:  I have read that you only promote from within, how does that shape and affect your company culture?

Here are some areas to ask about for two reasons: 1. They give you a chance to show you have done your homework and 2. They give you good information that you can use to determine if you want to work there.

Culture: Company culture and make or break a job.  You want to find out what they REALLY value, not just what they say they value.  If the value something, they will measure it.  “A lot of the pictures I have seen of your employees are at what look like volunteer opportunities, is that an integral part of your culture?”

The Good:  What do people like about the company?  “I have read a lot about how the company has low turnover.  What keeps people here?”

The Bad:  You want to see what they think is bad, you might think it is good.  “Looking on LinkedIn I see where there are a lot of people who have worked here for 2 years or less.  What is the most challenging part of the job?”

The Ugly:  You need to know why others have failed.  “All companies have people that have not worked out.  What are the critical performance metrics for this position?”

Career Path:  Do they provide what you want in a career and/or can they provide the opportunity to expand your skills? “If you don’t mind, tell me about your career here and what has made you successful.”

Competitors:  How do they see themselves in the marketplace?  “I know xyz  company is also in this industry. Who is your biggest competitor and what sets you apart in the market place?”

The Muse has a lot more questions to ask.  Just be sure to personalize them where you can.

Stay positive.  Don’t ask about lawsuits, stock drops or anything that seems negative.  That is not to say you should stay away from challenging questions.  For instance if you were interviewing with a major retailer a good question might be “how do you think the FLSA exempt definition change by the DOL taking effect in 2016 is going to change the company and retail in general?”


If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions?
Scott Adams

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