10 Questions You Should Be Prepared to Ask (and Answer) During a Job Interview

Nancy Anderson
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With a job interview on the horizon, all you can think about is how to prepare for every challenge an interviewer throws at you. Approach the situation from the employer's perspective, and deliver answers that show your distinct thought process and problem-solving skills. At the same time, seize the opportunity to ask questions that demonstrate your desire to further the company's goals.

Smart Questions to Ask

1. Do You Have Any Reservations About Hiring Me?

Asking outright about qualification gaps shows your ability to acknowledge your flaws and seek self-improvement. You also gain the chance to address the interviewer's concerns and provide examples of skills you haven't previously discussed. Even if you aren't hired, you still learn which skills to hone for future interviews.

2. What Are the Top Priorities of the Job?

Find out what the employer expects you to accomplish in the first few months and how those tasks factor into the company's current priorities. You come across as purpose-driven in the interview and simultaneously learn how to prioritize if you land the job.

3. Does the Position Have Growth Potential?

If climbing the ladder or evolving in your role is important to you, make sure you ask whether the position enables growth. Mobility may not be an immediate priority, but knowing that a job is a dead end can help you weigh it against positions that are better suited for you.

4. What Do You Like About the Company?

Probe the interviewer for deeper information about how the company functions and how managers interact with workers. The interviewer's level of enthusiasm and stated values can help you determine whether the company culture fits your personality and work style.

5. What Challenges Should I Expect?

Overpreparing is always better than blindly tackling a new job. Ask about common problems associated with the position and how they affect the company. Employers should be impressed by your initiative, so be wary when interviewers are not willing to discuss workflow problems that you could potentially solve.

Common Questions to Anticipate

6. Tell Me About Yourself.

This question may be unoriginal, but your answer can be thoughtful and demonstrative. Tailor your response to the job, and give examples of what you do differently than others. Share your personal brand story by explaining how your work history, career achievements, personality and interests help you achieve results.

7. What Makes You Right for the Job?

Use this opportunity to emphasize why you stand out and how your skills can help the company grow. Prepare stories that explain how you meet or surpass the employer's expectations for the role. Whenever possible, include a clear statement of how your strategies produced beneficial results for past companies.

8. How Would Colleagues Describe You?

Be honest, and assume that an interested employer may verify your answer with your references. Show your ability to manage work relationships with examples of how you collaborated on successful projects, took initiative or resolved conflicts. If you struggled in your last job, put a positive spin on the situation. For example, explain how you sought guidance from managers to improve your performance.

9. What Is Your Biggest Professional Accomplishment?

Give employers a glimpse of your capabilities, so they feel confident that you can handle any challenges. Choose an accomplishment that relates to the job or one of the employer's major priorities. Summarize the logic you used to turn a hurdle into a success, and emphasize what the company gained from your strategy.

10. What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?

Employers expect many candidates to make empty statements and emphasize their strengths, so set yourself apart by being truthful. Show your self-awareness, but don't offer more detail than necessary. Share a weakness that is relatable and how you continually work to overcome it. For example, explain that you deal with procrastination by listing your top three priorities for the day and completing them before everything else.

Employers use a wide range of techniques to evaluate candidates, including group and behavioral interviews. Some interviewers prefer to ask unconventional questions to catch you off guard and see how you recover under pressure. You can't predict every question, but you can conduct thorough research in advance to make sure your responses give you the best shot at getting hired.

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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @William thank you for that. Wow brave man you are! Most of us wouldn't do that but it's something to think about. It would sort of set the interview on his ear so to speak. But it could backfire in that the interviewer may not be in a position to answer that question and not answering it could look bad both for the company and for the interviewer.

  • William Browning
    William Browning

    One of my favorite questions to ask at the end of the interview is "Why should you hire me?" That gives you an opportunity to gauge the perception of the people interviewing you. The response can hint as to whether you might get the job or not. That way, you can focus your next move on trying to go with another company or waiting until you hear back after the interview concludes.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. True that most of us get stuck on what questions to ask during the interview. Absolutely you can ask about a typical day in the organization as well as could you outline a typical day for this position. And @Laura certainly you can ask about the person who had the position. Bear in mind that the answer probably won't be what you want to hear but it might open up the door to ask questions you hadn't thought of before. Certainly "why is this position vacant?" "what happened to the person who held this position?" "Why did they leave?" - these are all valid questions and no they are not all that risky. Just keep an eye on the interviewer and watch their body language. If it appears that the questions are distressing the interviewer, back off and go in a different direction. The answers can be very telling and let you know if you really want to pursue the position or not. And note that you will probably have to read between the lines of the response that you get from the interviewer. Just remember that an interview goes both way. Not only is the company interviewing you for the position but you are interviewing them for fit also. And one more thing - questions to ask at the end of the interview. It has been my experience that most, if not all, of my questions are answered during the interview and that is fine. If you don't have any additional questions at the end, tell the interviewer that. But say something like - would it be okay to contact you if I have additional questions after I leave? You could even include the question in your thank you card if you wish.

  • D. L.
    D. L.

    I always get stuck on what types of questions to ask during a job interview. I don't know if I would agree with asking question number one during the interview. I think this would be something I would ask if or when I am declined a job offer.

    One of the things I was told to ask is "what is a typical day like in this organization?" or "what is a typical day like for this position?". Do you think those types of questions will make me look like I am not familiar with the position or the job?

  • Laura Winzeler
    Laura Winzeler

    A question I like to ask is: “Who held this position prior to now?” if I don’t know. I try to take the interviewer's emotional temperature before moving on to, “Why are they leaving?” Do you think this is too risky, Nancy? It can definitely tell you things about the position and the manager you’d not learn otherwise. If it’s a new position, then it’s a great opportunity to ask about company growth and whatever else is necessitating the expansion.

  • Jacob T.
    Jacob T.

    Being engaged with the interview process, and the interviewer, is such a key component for landing a job. Having questions to ask is a great way to show engagement, and even if these five questions are not always appropriate, they give a great starting point to help form some questions with which you can be prepared going in to any interview.

  • Lydia K.
    Lydia K.

    I think I disagree that question number 1 should be asked. In my experience, some interviewers might like the outright approach and others might not. I'm not sure if there's a good reason to ask an interviewer why they might not like you. I think you can diplomatically get closer to getting an answer to question 1 with question number 7. This a better way not only to describe why you think you're a fit for the position, but also to find out the interviewer's idea of a good fit.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Kellen thanks for your comment and question. Anything personal should be off limits. You can ask the interviewer why he works for the company or how he likes his job, etc. but absolutely nothing personal. Even for an icebreaker you shouldn't cross this line. Never ask about salary or benefits during the interview. Now, if there is something interesting on the wall - maybe a painting, you could use that as an icebreaker to get the interview going and to calm your nerves.

  • Kellen P.
    Kellen P.

    I would like to know what kind of questions to avoid in job interviews. What would be an example of "crossing the line" in this situation? Is it okay to discuss wages? Benefits? Is it too forward to ask the hiring manager about why they chose their career path? I think there is a fine line between "ice breaker" questions that release some of the tension in the room and being inappropriate.


    I see the question about reservation as something acandidate shuld ask if it feels interes or cutting thesessionshort.there's so muchyouwant toto sayyourself.bit i all my problam .you qestion.if you stating the interview i will the answ

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Shaday it is true that you can tell how the interview is going by the energy and enthusiasm from the interviewer. If it appears that their attention is wondering, bring them back to point and wrap things up because the interview is pretty much over. @Abbey there is no right or wrong answer to your question. Tell me about yourself - should just be a quick two or three sentence response and then it will open up the door for more questions from the interviewer. Nothing personal should be told her - tell me about yourself means tell me about your work experiences. Remember that the interviewer has your resume right in front of them and you should do the same. If you think that you are going to be too nervous to get this out, then write it down and have it in front of you so that you can reference it to make sure you didn't forget anything. I don't think that personal information is going to boost your chances unless.. maybe, you know someone who is working at the company and you can say - I am friends with Joe in Accounting and he has nothing but great things to say about this company. Personal mixed with business and maybe a hook to get the position. Never give information about age, marital status, children, etc.

  • Shaday Stewart
    Shaday Stewart

    I see the question about reservations as something a candidate should ask if it feels like the interviewer is losing interest or cutting the session short. There's so much you want to say about yourself, but you don't always get the opportunity to share some of your relevant qualifications or passions if they don't fit the questions. So, if the interview is starting to sink, asking this question might give you an extra chance to recover. You don't necessarily need to ask this if the interview is going really well.

  • Abbey Boyd
    Abbey Boyd

    I have always dreaded the "tell me about yourself" question. I never know how much information to give, and what information is actually relevant. How does a person find the area between too little and too much? Should any personal information be given to answer this question? I understand the employer wants to know more about you as a potential employee, but are there times when personal information may boost your chances?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Catharine thanks for your comment. True that it would be a good idea to answer these questions yourself so that you are prepared for them during the interview. You can write them down and have the answers with you if it makes it easier. When I interview, I always have my resume and cover letter in front of me as well as the job posting and other information that I believe they might ask. There is no standard Q&A to offer as every interview is different. But the above 10 questions are pretty typical.


    This is a great list. It might be really helpful to right out the answers to each of these questions so that the answers come easily during the interview. I think preparing questions to ask the interviewer is really important because I think once you get people talking about themselves, they tend to like you more and appraise the interview more favorably. I always hate being asked the question about my weaknesses. It's difficult to be honest without being deprecating sometimes.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Katharine it is possible that it could come back to haunt you but at least you would know if there are any reservations and could talk your way through them. Most of us wouldn't ask a question like that but it's good to get any questions answered for the employer. It's the same with answering the weakness questions. I think that they just want to see if we will answer it honestly. They know that everyone has flaws and they want to see how you respond to it. Remember body language is so important in an interview. If you are anything like me, your first reaction to the weakness question is to want to roll your eyes! There really aren't any common weakness questions. Typically they will ask what is your greatest weakness and what is your greatest strength. Think about before the interview and come up with a way that turns that negative into a positive - by stating the flaw and what you have learned to turn it around so that it's no longer a weakness.

  • Hema Zahid
    Hema Zahid

    I agree that it is a good idea to ask about the top priorities of the job and I find myself asking this question at most of my job interviews. Knowing what the top priorities are gives me a roadmap of what to expect if I do get the job. It also gives me an insight into the areas I need to focus on and the skills I need to improve.

  • Katharine M.
    Katharine M.

    Could the first item, "Do you have any reservations about hiring me?" backfire? I would worry that it would make me appear insecure or, alternatively, plant a seed of doubt in the interviewer's head. It leads the interviewer to look for the applicant's weaknesses- doesn't that make them more likely to find them?

  • Shannon Philpott
    Shannon Philpott

    Questions about weaknesses always seem tricky to me. In a sense, you don't want to appear to be perfect, but you also don't want to make a bad impression by revealing your faults. How would you recommend candidates answer this question? Can you provide some examples of common weaknesses that would not be viewed as negative?

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