Are you preparing for a job interview? Good on you for doing your research!
Let me help. I’ve scoured my coaching resources, crowdsourced via the web and watched interview training courses to find some of the most unique interview questions. My clients have had a lot of success with these. Just remember to use only a few, you want the interviewer to retain a feeling of control during the interview rather than feel put off by too many questions.
Asking unique questions during an interview can help you stand out from other candidates and spot red flags with the manager or company. You don’t want to wait until the end of the interview to think of questions, when you’re pitted out and your mind goes blank. Keep reading for some tips on what questions to ask in an interview as a candidate—and why they’re important.
Table of Contents
- Interview Questions for Getting a Handle on the Work – What Do You Do Here, Exactly?
- Interview Questions about the Past and Future – Where is the team headed?
- Interview Questions about Performance – What Does Success Look Like?
- Interview Questions to Spot Red Flags: Questions for Managers
- Interview Questions to Spot Red Flags: Questions for Peers
- My Advice? Don’t Ask this Common Question
- Other Important Ways to Prepare for an Interview
Asking unique questions during an interview can help you stand out from other candidates and make sure that the job is a good fit. You don’t want to wait until the end of the interview to think of questions, when you’re pitted out and your mind goes blank. Let me give some tips on what questions to ask in an interview as a candidate—and why they’re important.
Interview Questions for Getting a Handle on the Work – What Do You Do Here, Exactly?
- What does the job entail?
- Can you give me examples of current projects you/the team are working on?
- How does the team serve the rest of the organization?
- What teams do you work closely with / depend on?
Hopefully, between the job description and the initial conversations, you have a good idea of what the job responsibilities are. You should also know a little bit about the benefits and the policies for working remotely, if it’s allowed. You’ll need to start picturing your life if you were to accept a job here.
As you get into discussion about the work, this is the time to ask follow-up questions about resources, teams that support you, process and actual strategic questions about how the team works together and prioritizes. This demonstrates that have an idea about how the work should be done, as well as the foresight to recognize potential pitfalls along the way.
Interview Questions about the Past and Future – Where is the team headed?
- What are your goals for this team over the next year? Next five years?
- What is this department’s role in the future of the company?
- How has the company/this department changed in the time that you have been a part of it?
- Are there any trends on the horizon that you think will have significant impact on the nature or form of this job in a couple of years?
This category of questions lets the employer know you can think strategically about the long term, and that you understand the importance of keeping up with trends and anticipating change.
Interview Questions about Performance – What Does Success Look Like?
- What do you consider to be the three most important qualities someone should have to succeed in this role?
- What are you expecting this person to accomplish in the first 30/60/90 days?
- How do you measure the success of this team?
- What measurable goals is this team accountable for reaching?
- What projects or goals does your boss care most about?
Having a clear understanding of the goals and objectives of the team you are interviewing for is essential. Asking about the team’s goals for the future can help you gain insight into the company’s culture, their strategic plans, and the changes the company is going through. It also shows the hiring team that you are eager to contribute to the team’s success.
Interview Questions to Spot Red Flags: Questions for Managers
- What is the biggest challenge you expect for the person in this role?
- How would you describe the team/company culture?
- What is your management style?
- What is your favorite /least favorite thing about working here?
- How does the team react to failures or mistakes?
These questions are reasonable ways to see how the manager leads the team and how the employees talk about the culture. In addition, asking about challenges in the role is a smart move, for two reasons:
- Knowing about road bumps will help tease out potential red flags or toxic working conditions.
- If the challenges are ones you’ve dealt with before and are comfortable with, it gives you ample talking points to ace the interview and reinforce in the thank you note.
Interview Questions to Spot Red Flags: Questions for Peers
- How often do you work more than 50 hour weeks?
- Tell me about your best day at work, and your worst day.
- What is your favorite / least favorite thing about working here?
- How does the team react to failures or mistakes?
- Do people at the company collaborate well?
- Are there a lot of silos?
- Are there processes that support the team so they can focus on work?
Sometimes it’s the body language more than the words that people say which give you clues as to problems in the working environment. You can tell a lot also by what people don’t say. Carefully watch as a peer responds to some of these questions. Also note their attitude and how they talk about others on the team. Are they positive, or are they griping about others?
My Advice? Don’t Ask this Common Question
Rather than “Is there anything we discussed or on my resume that gives you pause or concern with moving forward with me?” ask…
“What is your favorite thing about working here?”
People hate confrontation. And they want the interviewee to think they are doing a good job. They are going to feel very uncomfortable if you confront them about what they don’t like about you. If instead, you get them feeling warm and fuzzy talking about why they love their job, they will leave the conversation with you feeling good. That’s what they will remember, how you made them feel.
Other Important Ways to Prepare for an Interview
- Prepare your background, camera and microphone
- Talk on the phone prior to the interview with someone who is a cheerleader and lights you up
- Write a bulleted list of talking points aligning your experience with key job requirements
- Remember to make eye contact with the camera and not just the screen
- Practice speaking with confidence, doing interview practice with a coach or friend
- Practice your introduction / elevator pitch so it sounds polished and concise
- Be eager but not desperate. Trust in yourself and let go.
Need a career coach? Let’s talk.
You might also like my post “Five Lesser-Known but Effective Job Search Tools That Aren’t Job Search Boards.”