Alumni Career Services

Questions to Ask in an Interview

You should be prepared to ask thoughtful, relevant questions in an interview.  What you ask will demonstrate how much research you've done and how well you understand the company or role.  Anticipating the best time and forum for different types of questions will add to your credibility and the impression you make on the employer.  It is prudent to prepare four general kinds of questions so that they can be adapted to the particular conversation:  

  1. Broad Questions: these are "macro" level questions regarding the organization's strategy and outlook.  These questions should demonstrate that you have taken time to research the industry, sector and firm and are thinking critically about the future of the business.  These are best asked of the hiring manager or your most senior interviewer.  Research should be conducted not only on the firm's website, but also using recent public relations statements, mass media mentions (e.g. Wall Street Journal) and analyst reports (for public companies).  Privately held and smaller firms require more primary research which may include talking with former employees or digging into local or trade news sources. 

Examples:   

Over the last couple of years, Acme both divested two units and acquired a number of strategic businesses  how has post-merger integration gone for the company?  How has the strategy team been involved?

It seems that Dunder Mifflin has been very successful at garnering higher margins even though this is a commodity business.  How are you forging such unique client partnerships?

  1. Role Specific Questions: these questions pertain to your role, the team, division, clients or suppliers, and can assist in determining where you could add value, what success might look like and how/if you could influence the firm's outcomes. 

Examples:  

What are the key outcomes you'd like to see in this role in the near term?

Who would I be working most closely with and what are the most important relationships I will need to build in this role?

  1. Personal/Fit/Culture Questions: these questions range from managerial style to working environment to how things really get done.  Asking questions of would-be peers or superiors about schedules, norms, business cycles and social expectations can help you determine if you fit within the culture. 

Examples:   

I understand that travel is an essential part of the work here at Stark Consulting, but can you help me understand how engagements are staffed and what role you play in determining consultant-to-client expertise?

How are things communicated and celebrated here?

  1. Process Questions: these questions are necessary to understand the hiring process including how and when a hiring decision will be made.

Examples: 

I am very interested in this position.  Is there anything you think might hinder my candidacy?

I am exploring several opportunities, but this role at Wonka Industries is my top choice.  What is your process and when should I expect to hear from you regarding next steps?

Some questions are better dealt with outside the interview, either in doing research about the firm, or after you've gotten an offer. 

The Ladders provides a number of good, brief articles on the topic of interview questions here.

 

 

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