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  1. Blog
  2. Interviewing
  3. December 9, 2020

31 Unique Interview Questions to Ask an Employer

My how the tables have turned

Woman with colorful nails raising her hand
Photo courtesy of Analia Baggiano

Asking questions during an interview can make or break the outcome. Interview coach Tazeen Raza says, “Asking questions is a great way to show you did your research. Employers want people who are go-getters and don’t require tons of direction. Show that you’re interested in this company and role specifically, and that this isn’t just one of many positions you’ve applied to.”

Separate yourself from other candidates by asking detailed and unique questions. “Always ask one question about the future of the company or current projects associated with the company,” Raza says. “A great way to research this is to see if the company has been in the news recently or delve into the specifics on their own website.” 

Raza suggests holding off on questions about vacation days and benefits—that’s a topic best reserved for HR and should be asked later on when negotiating an offer. 

Here are 31 unique interview questions to ask an employer

1. Where do you expect the business to be in one year?

Demonstrate to the interviewer that you’re forward-thinking and invested in the success of the company. If the company plans to grow in the next year, there might even be more leadership positions available for you.

2. From my research, I know your main competitors are x, y, and z. Which competitor are you most worried about?

Asking about the company’s competitors will show you’ve clearly done your homework, and that you’re interested in tackling problems offensively. 

Read more: 93 Questions to Ask in an Interview That Will Actually Tell You About the Job

3. What is the largest challenge facing your organization, and would I be in a position to help you solve this problem?

It’s always important to frame yourself within the big picture. This question allows you to insert yourself as part of the solution to a main problem within the organization. 

4. What are some of the things you saw on my resume that indicated this role might be a good fit?

Not only does this help you out for any other interviews and resume workshopping, it’ll tell you what experiences and skills the employer finds most impressive and desirable. Take notes and continue to develop those areas of expertise. 

5. What are some things that would make someone not a good fit for this role?

The answer to this question will help you scope out if you are really the best fit for the job. The answer might also give you a leg up for any future interview answers for a similar position—you’ll know which personal strengths to hit on and which points to avoid.

6. Why did you say “yes” to the position you hold now when it was offered to you?

Give your interviewer the chance to explain exactly why they were drawn to the company. Chances are, it’ll sell you further on the position. 

7. What have people gone on to do in the company after taking this position?

The answer here could offer a window into your own future, or just show you what’s possible after you grow and learn in this position. 

8. I noticed that you’ve been at this company for x years. How have things changed in the company since you started, and what advice would you give to yourself with the knowledge you have now?

Raza says, “This shows that you’re interested in the history of the company and its evolution. It allows the interviewer to see that you have done your research and are eager to learn from people that have been at the company for a number of years.”

9. What is your leadership style?

Your success is directly related to your manager’s leadership style. It’s better to learn earlier how you’ll be managed and rewarded, plus it shows that you’re already thinking about how to effectively work with your supervisor. 

Read more: Which of These 11 Leadership Styles Are You?

10. Do your employees ever get together outside of work hours?

This doesn’t have to mean in person, but it’s nice to know if the workplace culture fosters an environment of camaraderie and promotes healthy relationships (and fun) between coworkers outside work. 

11. How often does this position experience turnover?

If turnover is really high, that could be an indicator that the company culture isn’t as great as it maybe seems. Ask the interviewer why the number is high, and how the company plans to address retention.

Read more: How to Think About Your Employee Turnover Rate

12. What are some differences between good employees and great employees in this company?

This will force the interviewer to pause and think. It shows you want to constantly be at the top of your game and strive to be the absolute best within your position. 

13. Do you have any examples of projects I could see?

This’ll give you an advantage in the next round of interviews—impress your next interviewer by bringing up a specific detail from one of the projects they’ve worked on.  

14. Besides those listed in the job description, are there any other tasks required for this position?

There are always more responsibilities expected outside of just those listed, so it’s best to have a hint of what’s really to come. If you want to get really specific, ask what percentage of your time would be spent on each task.

Read more: How to Write a Job Description for the First Time

15. How do you take care of your employees’ mental health and work-life balance?

These days (and always), this is an incredibly important question. Burnout is a real issue, and it’s better to know beforehand how an employer tries to prevent it.

16. Do you feel supported by the company?

Shift your interviewer into personal mode to get them talking more honestly and candidly. Since this question is more personal, you’ll get an insider peek into how employees really feel about the company.

17. How do you ensure your workplace is diverse and inclusive?

This answer will give you an idea of if the company really values diversity as much in practice as in writing. Ask how they plan to continue fostering diversity initiatives and how they address discrimination in the workplace.

18. Is this a new position or are you hiring to replace someone?

This is an important question since the employer’s answer could potentially reveal any red flags. If the position sees high turnover, ask why. You might not initially know if the reason is positive or negative—maybe it’s because the company provides good growth opportunities.

19. What are the most important milestones that you would like to see someone accomplish in the first few months? 

This shows that you’re thinking pragmatically about the position and that you’re already planning how to set and reach goals in your position.

20. Does this position offer continued training or education? 

This question helps you stand out by showing that you’re dedicated to self-improvement and expanding your knowledge. Plus, you’ll get to see if they’re truly supportive of employees’ career and personal development, or if they expect employees to fund their development outside the company. 

Read more: Questions to Ask an Interviewer That Make You Sound Like a Genius

21. Can you talk a little bit about the people I’d be working with?

Inquire about your future coworkers. Do they collaborate often or is the work more independent?

22. Beyond the hard skills required to carry out this job, what soft skills are necessary?

Hard skills are quantifiable, like cloud computing and graphic design, and soft skills are your people skills, like empathy and problem-solving. Soft skills are integral to performing your job well, so figure out which ones you’ll need to hone. 

Read more: 6 Soft Skills That Stand Out in Today's Job Market

23. If your employees come to you with conflicts, how do you respond?

Similar to leadership styles, learning how your (potential) future boss deals with conflicts and bumps in the road will give you insight into how best to interact with them if any problems arise later down the line. 

Read more: 5 Creative Interview Questions That Can Reveal Red Flags

24. I read x about your CEO. Can you tell me more about this?

Again, bravo—you did your homework. Use this story in your next interview to impress.

25. Can you give me an example of how I would collaborate with my manager?

Ask about how often you interact with your manager, how often you’ll have performance reviews, and how many other employees report to them.

26. How would you score the company on living up to its core values? What's one thing you're working on improving?

Their goal is to make the role and the company desirable to the candidate. Instead of simply asking about company culture, ask the question in terms of how they’re actually living out their core values

Read more: The 12 Questions You Should Be Asking Recruiters

27. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Usually, this question is directed toward the interviewee (read how to answer that here). By flipping the question around onto the interviewer, you’ll get a peek into how passionate and driven employees are within the company. 

28. Why do you think I should accept this position?

This is a bold question—be conscious of your tone and make sure you reiterate that you are very interested. The interviewer’s answer here should reveal the company’s best selling points.

29. Is there anyone else you would like me to meet with?

Clearly express that you’re willing to continue the conversation to prove your worth and candidacy to anyone else necessary. 

30. Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?

This question gives you the opportunity to address concerns about your qualifications for the role. Maybe you can elaborate on valuable skills or clarify your capabilities—this is your chance to make your case. 

Read more: How to Know if You’re Qualified for the Job

31. What's your timeline for making a decision, and when can I expect to hear back from you?

Raza says, “The last question should definitely be about next steps and when you can expect to hear back. Oftentimes, candidates forget to ask this question and assume they will be hearing back from an employer. It shows the interviewer that you would like to hear back regardless of the outcome.”

About our source

Tazeen Raza is an interview and career coach with several years of professional human resources experience. Raza has worked in recruiting, talent management, and college recruiting, developing her passion for helping individuals realize their strengths and weaknesses before landing their dream jobs. Learn more about her services at tazeenraza.com.

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Cara Hutto

Contributor

Cara Hutto is a freelance writer and the former assistant editor at InHerSight. Her writing primarily focuses on workplace rights, job searching, culture, and food, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in media and journalism from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

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