35 Smart Questions Great Candidates Ask During Job Interviews

November 20, 2020

Filed Under: interview questions

By Jeff Haden

Photo Credit: Getty Images

In many cases, the part of the job interview when you ask the candidate, "Do you have any questions for me?" often feels like a waste of time. To many job candidates, what they ask – and whether it makes them seem smart – is more important than how you answer.

But then there are the job candidates who do care about how you answer, because they're also interviewing you. They're superstars. They're skilled, accomplished, creative, hardworking ... In short, they have options.

Which means your interview prep is just as important as the candidate's.

What kinds of questions should small-business owners (or hiring managers) be prepared to answer? I asked my LinkedIn connections for their favorites.

Here are some of the best:

  1. "What are the three biggest challenges the person landing this role will face in the first 90 days, and what must be achieved in those 90 days?" –Karen Cuneo-McDonald
  2. "Can you tell me about a person you hired who didn't work out, and why they didn't work out?" –Michael Spence
  3. "What does it mean to be a leader at your company?" –Phani Karne
  4. "Based on your culture, which of the following is your company's number one priority: customers, employees, revenue, or brand integrity? If I ask this same question of other employees here, how likely is it they would give the same answer?" –Kevin McDaniel
  5. "Can you tell me how your company has maneuvered and positioned itself during Covid-19? How has the organization kept morale and engagement up during this time?" –Anna Morgan
  6. "Can you tell me some of the rituals, ceremonies, or customs at your company that makes it memorable for employees?" –Eytan Dallal
  7. "What is the highest technical rank a woman holds in your organization?" –Sara Biyabani (J.H.: If a question like this isn't cause for self-reflection, nothing is.)
  8. "It's time for our 12-month review. I've been wildly successful in this role and you're still excited you hired me. What outcomes have I achieved that contribute to your continued excitement for hiring me?" –KC Coe
  9. "The last person who held this position: How long did they hold it, and why is it now open?" –Maureen Dalton
  10. "Describe your onboarding process. What is the timeline for when you expect full productivity?" –Kathryn Read
  11. "What is something you believed or thought when you first started working here (or when you first started your company) that you now know you were wrong about?" –Jairo McMican
  12. "If I'm hired and you are my official (onboarding) 'buddy,' what would be your top two or three pro tips for navigating the organization during my first few months?" –Sumana Sarkar
  13. "What is something I don't want to know about the job?" –Sarah Prat (J.H.: Love this one; no job is perfect.)
  14. "What structured learning, development, and mentorship programs do you have in place?" –Deniz Yorulmazel
  15. "What is it about my résumé or experience that caught your eye and convinced you I am a strong candidate for this job?" –Amrutha Ragavan
  16. "What are the top three competencies needed to be successful in this role, and why? More broadly, what are the top three personality traits you see in the most successful people in your organization?" –Paige Derdevanis
  17. "What are the biggest problems you need to solve?" –Brian K. Seitz
  18. "How would you rate the emotional intelligence of your organization? Is there an ongoing focus/training in terms of E.I. for both leaders and employees?" –Kelly McCarthy
  19. "What is your leadership style?" –Zoila Rivera (J.H.: Smart candidates don't add color or detail to this question. Keeping it simple lets them find out where you take the question, revealing the leadership aspects that are important to you.)
  20. "How did your company handle the pandemic crisis?" –Kara Callahan (J.H.: Another question smart candidates keep simple. "How" – team building, operational changes, cost control, layoffs, etc. – is telling.)
  21. "What is your favorite thing about working here?" –Surbhi Agarwal
  22. "Can you share a story that exemplifies your culture?" –Linda Paustian
  23. "What key attribute are you seeking for this role that you haven't seen in me?" –Jackie Mitchell
  24. "Who was one of the more successful employees that you've hired, and what was it about him or her that made that person such a great employee?" –Brenda Hansen
  25. "Where do you see the company in five years?" –Jon Bierer
  26. "What are your top three priorities/goals over the next six to 12 months, and how will this position help you achieve those goals?" –Nikki d'Assis
  27. "Is this an incremental hire or replacement hire? If so, whom does it replace, and why?" –Keith J. Vargas
  28. "What are the one or two biggest challenges I will face in this role?" –Kandi Gwynn
  29. "What does each of your team members do that contributes to the team's success? What behavior could each person change that would make the team more successful?" –Jay Oza
  30. "Who is the best performer on your team, and why?" –Roxy L.
  31. "Aside from metrics, how do you measure success?" –Zeina Gharzouzi
  32. "When you're complaining to your friends about work, what do you complain about?" –Karen McFarland (J.H.: Definitely a fun question. How would you answer? And what are you doing about the answer?)
  33. "What do you do to improve employee morale (and engagement)?" –Kim Shaw
  34. "Do you have any concerns about my qualifications?" –Alexandra Haefele
  35. "What question have I not asked that you thought I would, or should?" –Bill Landau
For the original article, visit: Inc. 

Subscribe Here!


See all

Most Popular Posts