25 Smart Questions to Make You Stand Out During the Interview

Interviews can be stressful, but if you’ve done your research and prepared your answers, the next thing is to create a list of questions you will ask during the interview. Remember, the interview really should be a mutual exchange of information, not an interrogation.

When you ask questions, it demonstrates your interest in the company and the position. It also shows you have carefully considered the job and whether the company will be a good match. Sending these impressions to the employer can work in your favor. Remember, most employers aren’t hiring “butts in seats.” They want the people they hire to perform, hopefully better than expected.

There are four different categories of questions listed depending on where you are in the interview process and what information you want to gather during your discussion.

Basic Questions

These questions are good to ask during the pre-screening phone interview or in the early stages of the interviewing process. Gathering the answers early will allow you to ask better follow-up questions later. They will also give you a clearer idea of the skills you want to emphasize.

  • What do you see ahead for your company in the next five years?
  • What do you consider to be your company’s most important assets?
  • How do you rate your competition?
  • Could you describe a typical day or week in this position? Or Could you describe the typical client or customer I would be dealing with?
  • What are the most essential elements of this job?
  • Why is this position available?
  • What did the last person in this position go on to do — and what were they like?
  • How is job performance evaluated, and how often does it occur?
  • What are the three main factors you will be using to determine the right person for this job?
  • What was it about my qualifications that most appealed to you?

Job-Related Questions

These questions allow you to dig deeper into the job requirements and expectations and are best asked of your future manager.

  • What goals do you expect the person who takes this job to achieve during their first 30, 60, and 90 days?
  • Could you tell me how the job has been performed in the past? And what improvements you’d like to see happen?
  • How does “X” get done here? (Where “X” is a vital element of the job)
  • What types of skills do you NOT already have on board that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
  • If I was starting in this position today, what would you advise me to learn first and do first?

Cultural Fit Questions

Finding the right cultural fit is essential to you AND the employer. There are many elements to cultural fit: management style, processes and procedures, ethics/values, communication styles, levels of trust, and empowerment are just a few. Listen carefully and without bias as you ask these questions. Whenever possible, ask relevant follow-up questions to gain further insight or clarification.

  • What do you like best about working here?
  • What type of work do you delegate to your staff?
  • The company may have a formal recognition program; however, what type of recognition have you recently given to one of your staff?
  • Has anyone on your staff been promoted over the last couple of years? If so, what was the reason why this person was promoted?
  • What would be the three things that your peers would say you do extremely well?
  • What opportunities do you make available for professional development and training?
  • What do employees do in their spare time?
  • Does the company welcome celebrating special occasions? What was the last occasion your department celebrated?

Trial Close

Sometimes it is a good idea to see if you’ve left the interviewer with questions or issues unaddressed. A “trial close” can be a way for you to see what the interviewer is feeling.

  • Are there any reservations you have about my fit for the position that I could try to address?
  • This job sounds like something I’d really like to do — is there a fit here?
  • Now that we’ve discussed my qualifications and the job, do you have any concerns about my success in this position?

Final Questions

There are no exceptions. You MUST know the answers to these questions. It allows you to plan how and when you follow up.

  • What is the next step in this process?
  • What is your timeline for getting back to candidates about the next steps?

Exuding confidence and interest in the job are two of the most important assets you can possess! Get the next interview!

RELATED: 10 Killer Interview Tactics You Ought to Know

By Hannah Morgan

Hannah Morgan provides no-nonsense help for new job seekers. She provides advice and serves as a guide to traverse the treacherous terrain of today's economy by focusing on pro-active strategies for job search and leveraging social networks. Career Sherpa is one of many outlets where Hannah shares her information. Follow Hannah on Twitter @careersherpa!