For my first job interview back in college I was uber prepared for my answers. I had prepped, practiced and scripted. I was ready to tell my stories. But I was NOT ready for this answer:

Do you have any questions for me?

In fact, she was not asking for an answer, she was asking for questions. I have since learned that this is an incredibly important question for interviewers to learn about you. Why?

  • Your questions tell them how serious you are.
  • Your questions tell them what you are worrying about.
  • Your questions tell them if you have done your homework.
  • Your questions tell them about you.

In this article I wanted to put together some recommendations on how to answer this very important question—with questions.

Nothing You Can Google

Do not ask any question that you could find out on Google. This includes:

  • Anything on the company’s Wikipedia page
  • Anything on the company’s website
  • Anything on the interviewer’s LinkedIn page

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Nothing in the Pre-Interview Materials

Duh, but seriously read EVERYTHING they send you ahead of time. Read every link in their email signature. Read links on the links of the pages they send you. Do not ask questions that could be answered by reading—if you do this you are telling the interviewer you didn’t do your due diligence.

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Nothing Too Personal

Some might argue with me on this, but many recruiters and HR personnel feel the commonly asked questions:

  • How did you get into this line of work?
  • Do you like working here?
  • How long have you been working here?

Are non-serious, gimmicky questions. They are not super relevant to your job AND of course the interviewer would be hard pressed to say they didn’t like their job in a meeting like this.

My recommendation: Do not ask anything personal to the interviewer, stick to the job, the company and the requirements.

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The most important thing you want to know for a job is if you are a good fit. While most companies list the job requirements in the job description there are ALWAYS going to be things they miss. I think these are very relevant to you. Specifically, I find that job descriptions usually cover about 80% of the actual job. There is always 20% that either:

  • The hiring manager doesn’t know about
  • The person who wrote the job description forgot to include
  • Details the company knows you won’t like as much and so they do not include them

Usually the extra 20% are the less ideal parts of the job. I think it is great to ask about these. You can do this easily:

  • Is there anything you think I will be doing that is not included in the job description?
  • Are there any smaller tasks that I might be doing in this job that I should be prepared for that are not in the job description?
  • It seems like I will mostly be doing ____. Is there anything else that isn’t as regular, but I should be aware of?

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The other important aspect of your job is people—who you will be working with can greatly affect your success and job satisfaction. I like to ask directly about the people I will be working with—going so far as to ask to meet them!

  • Who will I be working with most in my role?
  • What is my team like?
  • What kinds of personalities are on the team?

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A huge measure of happiness is progress. We like to know we are working towards something. It is also essential for your career and professional growth that you know you are on a track or there is upward movement. Its great to ask about this early on.

  • What is the growth path for this position?
  • How would you measure my success in this role—what would next steps be?
  • If I am doing well in this job, what would a career future at XYZ company look like?

Think carefully about your answers before an interview, but also think carefully about your questions before an interview. They might make you stand out even more!

About Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards is a national best selling author & founder at Science of People. Her groundbreaking book, Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People has been translated into more than 16 languages. As a recovering awkward person, Vanessa helps millions find their inner charisma. She regularly leads innovative corporate workshops and helps thousands of individual professionals in her online program People School. Vanessa works with entrepreneurs, growing businesses, and trillion dollar companies; and has been featured on CNN, BBC, CBS, Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur Magazine, USA Today, the Today Show and many more.

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