As a candidate, prepping for a job interview can feel like a job that’s never fully done. Today we’re focusing on those moments when the interviewer turns to candidates and asks the inevitable, “Do you have any questions for me?” at the end of the interview. It’s critical to come up with a slate of good questions to ask that uncover vital information about the job opportunity — and simultaneously serve up another chance to highlight your strengths as the ideal candidate.
But too often, interviewees fail to stand out here. There’s an easy temptation to focus on other aspects of prep and thus fall back on the most common interview questions over and over again — think “Why did you join this company?” or “What does a typical day look like here?” At best, these may elicit an interesting anecdote from your interviewer. At worst, you’ve wasted precious minutes just dipping a toe into the pool, instead of probing the most critical depths of this new role and your potential employer.
Since we’re always on the hunt for tactics and advice that can fill in existing gaps, we’ve spent the past month reaching out to some of the most thoughtful founders and startup leaders in our network for their take on this question.
We were especially focused on unearthing the best questions that are not often raised, whether they were queries these leaders themselves have previously posed before joining a company, or ones they wish more candidates would put to them when they’ve got their hiring hats on.
Their responses span across all sorts of different categories, from the company’s future and the team’s biggest challenges, to professional development opportunities and what your day-to-day responsibilities will really look like. While some of the questions are geared towards sussing out valuable information — whether that’s red flags or indicators that it’s your dream job — others are oriented towards reinforcing your thoughtfulness to the interview panel. Not every question will be relevant to you or your role, but we promise you’ll find at least a few that you haven’t thought of before.
With that framing in mind, we’ve broken this mega-list of smart questions down to eight targeted categories, based on what you might care about most in your job search.
- Company growth and priorities: What’s on the horizon for the company, and what are the biggest blockers to reaching that summit?
- Culture and values: How does the company want to conduct its work?
- Diversity, equality and inclusion: What tangible steps is the company taking to put DEI efforts front-and-center?
- Employee experience: What factors determine whether or not someone is successful at growing within the company?
- Founder fit: For those interviewing at early-stage startups, how do you assess whether the founding team is well-equipped for the bumpy road that lies ahead?
- Manager compatibility: Will you and your manager work harmoniously, and will they be someone who gently nudges you to be better?
- Role and responsibilities: Does the role adequately fulfill the next steps you’re looking to accomplish in your career?
- Team impact and dynamics: How does the team function as a unit to drive meaningful change for the company and its customers?