Top 8 Questions to Ask During an Interview

By Steve p Brady

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Reporters are not the only ones who need to ask good questions.

While my job as a resume writer is to help you get an interview, there is more to landing a job than just getting some face time with an employer. Once you pass the gauntlet of auto scanners, HR department readers and hiring committees, you need to prepare for the interview itself. There are two things you can do to vastly improve your chances at this point. 

1. Research the types of questions that you will be asked.
2. Come up with some important questions of your own to ask the employer.

The first one is pretty standard. You know you are going to be asked some of the classics like, “What is your biggest weakness?” and “Why should we hire you?” (And no, just in case you were contemplating it, you can not answer the previously stated questions with, “I am a perfectionist” and “Because I am awesome”. While both may be true, neither is going to impress an interviewer. Be original.) Additional questions will of course vary depending on your field, but they can generally be researched and answered well, if you take the time to prepare and rehearse your answers.

The second part takes some real planning and forethought. To help you along in the process here are my top eight questions to ask during an interview. (Hey, everyone does top ten lists; I am being original here.)

OK, I know I just said that these are questions to ask at the interview, but the first two actually come before you even get there, but they are vitally important. 

#1 Ask who is interviewing you.
Sometimes you’ll interview with a department head, other times an entire committee. Knowing ahead of time exactly what you will face will make the whole process easier. Also, take the time to find out a little about your interviewer so you can try to create some rapport. (Note: Do not turn into a stalker and research his personal details and download photos of his kids. You just want to know generally about him.)

#2 Ask if they can tell you more about the job and how your qualifications are a match?
You customized your resume to fit this position with branding statements, keywords, supporting details (You did, do this right?) and they chose to interview you. Ask them to flesh out the position and where your experience matches up. Give them the opportunity to verify what you already know about yourself ~ you can do this job. 

Now that you have armed yourself with some of the finer points of the job and how you can help the company, it is time to shine at the interview itself.

#3 Find out what the short and long term goals for the position are.
Ask this early on in the process. If you know exactly where they want to go with this position you can better highlight how your history and skills can assist them in achieving their goals.

#4 Who are you replacing and why?
Obviously you are not going to get a name, but by asking, it shows you are concerned about the future beyond simply landing this job. If the previous employee was promoted, you’ll know there is room for advancement. If they were let go you may be able to find out more about the employer's expectations for the job.

#5 Find out who you will be working with.
Are you going to be part of a team? Will you report directly to one person? How much independence / initiative are they looking for?

#6 Ask what they see as the biggest challenge that will face whoever takes this position.
Remember your goal in an interview is to show them that you can solve their problems. What can you add to their company? Finding out their biggest concerns right now will go a long way towards establishing yourself as the problem solver.

#7 Ask if they have any reservations about your ability to fill the position.
This one can be a little intimidating to ask, but if they have doubts you want the chance to allay their fears, don’t you. Ask this towards the end of the interview and do your best to give honest responses to their concerns. 

#8 When can you expect to hear from them?
After going through this process it is only fair to request that you be informed in a timely manner whether or not they are prepared to make you an offer. If nothing else it lets them know that you value your time as a professional.

Remember, the resume and portfolio is important, but it isn’t the end of the game. Be prepared to show the interviewer your best self and move one step closer to a new job.


Steve P Brady has over 10 years experience resume writing and publishes a weekly newsletter on career development for teachers.

Image courtesy of franky242 /


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