When you think of a job interview, the image that pops into your mind is most likely of a hiring manager asking you questions to find out whether or not you'd be a good fit for the position.
But interviews should rarely be a one-way conversation.
Not only is there a ton you need to know about a job opportunity, but you also need to show the hiring manager that you’re just as involved in the interview as they are.
Answering questions is one task, but getting involved and asking your own questions requires even more thought and critical thinking.
So, of all the possible questions you can ask, which ones should you prioritize at your next interview?
Let’s explore the best questions to ask a hiring manager and why you should do it in the first place.
If you don’t ask any good questions during and immediately after your interview, the recruiter may be disappointed.
When you ask relevant questions, you show the interviewer that you’ve researched and prepared for the interview. It shows that you’re fully engaged in the interview process and that you care about the job opportunity.
On the other hand, a lack of questions can show disinterest or lack of engagement.
The more you want to know about the company, the position, and the people involved, the more the recruiter will see that you’re invested in the opportunity.
Some questions even show that you don’t just see this as a job but as a potential long-term career.
In addition to looking good in front of the hiring manager, asking questions is beneficial for you, too.
For instance, it can help you find out more about the job opportunity or figure out whether the company is a good fit for you.
Remember that it’s not just the company doing you a favor by giving you an interview and potentially hiring you — the company needs people like you to keep it running.
Your questions can help you figure out how you can help the company and how the company can help you.
So now you know that asking questions to your hiring manager matters. But what should you ask in the first place?
Here are 20 smart interview questions to ask the hiring manager to make a good first impression, show you’re interested in the job and the company, and get hired more easily.
The job description may mention some information about the position, but the hiring manager will know much more than what you initially read when you applied.
Ask the hiring manager if there are details that the posting left out. Are there any responsibilities or tasks that would fall to you that weren’t mentioned?
Let them know you’d like to elaborate on the specifics of the tasks involved with the position. Not only will this help you find out more about the job, but it will allow you to come up with follow-up questions as needed.
The more you know about the position, the more you’ll discover that you don’t know.
For example, if the hiring manager mentions you'd be in charge of inventory management on top of the other tasks involved as a warehouse worker, you'll want to find out more about what this entails.
How much time will inventory management take out of your day? How often will this task be required? Will you be given the tools to perform this duty effectively?
Don’t hesitate to ask for more detailed information as a follow-up question. If the hiring manager is interested in you as a candidate, they won’t mind taking the time to answer your questions.
You’ll be able to perform at your best if you get the job offer only if you know what your employer expects from you. This means you should clarify what those expectations are in the first place.
Asking what your potential employer would expect of you if you were hired shows that you’ll make an effort to step up to those expectations.
After all, if you didn’t care about stepping up, you wouldn’t be asking.
Asking about potential opportunities down the road is a great question because it shows engagement not just in the interview but in the opportunity as a whole.
This question also shows the recruiter that you're interested in staying at this company for the long run and that this isn’t just another job for you.
Hiring managers want employees who stick around long-term. This is to avoid turnover since employee turnover is expensive for companies.
Hiring a new employee can cost up to $3,000 on average, but some hiring managers say it can cost more than $6,000.
So, if they can find someone willing to invest years of their professional career in their company, they'll be more likely to hire that person than someone with similar qualifications who may jump ship a year or two down the line.
This question helps you figure out whether or not your skill set fits the position.
By clarifying this early on, you can avoid wasting your time and the hiring manager’s time if you don’t end up being a good fit.
Although job postings will often tell you what the ideal candidate looks like, you’ll learn much more about this by having a two-way conversation with the hiring manager.
Soft skills matter for your career just as much as hard skills.
Hard skills may be obvious when describing a job opportunity, but the required soft skills may be hiding underneath the surface.
In addition, knowing what soft skills are required for a position will also help you figure out what the company values.
For example, if the hiring manager tells you that empathy is an important soft skill, you’ll know that this organization likely values empathy and respect between staff members.
Company culture matters when you’re trying to figure out if you’d be a good fit for a position.
You’ll know whether or not you can be happy there depending on what your values are and what the company prioritizes.
For example, if you thrive in a high-performing workplace, but the company you’re interviewing for prefers lower-pressure methods of work, you may realize that you won’t be able to do your best work in this role.
As a potential new hire, it's important to know who your boss will be and if you will have more than one person to report to. Who reports to who completely changes the dynamics of a job.
In addition, an unclear or confusing hierarchy could be a red flag.
So, if the recruiter struggles to answer this question, consider whether the opportunity is worth the potential hassle before you continue to process.
Also, consider asking to meet the person you’ll report to so that you can see if you get along. You may find out about their management style to get an idea of what it will be like to work for them.
Apart from your boss, you’ll also be spending time with other coworkers. Unless you’re working part-time, you’ll be spending the majority of your days with these people.
Ask how you’ll be collaborating with these people to further understand your role in the workplace ecosystem.
By asking this question, you’ll get to know the interviewer a little more. This is a great opportunity to build rapport with them and become more memorable.
It also gives you a glimpse of the positive aspects of the company.
Suppose you have more than one job opportunity lined up and receive more than one offer after the interviewing process is over. In that case, you’ll be able to compare what the recruiter mentioned after you asked this question to weigh the pros and cons of each opportunity.
A job isn’t all fun and games, and even the easiest positions will come with their challenges.
But if you know what to expect, you’ll be better prepared to succeed should you get the position.
Your hiring manager will also be impressed that you want to anticipate these challenges.
You’ll have a better idea of whether or not you’ll enjoy a role when you have a clearer picture of what your day will look like.
This is different from asking about what you’ll be working on.
A typical day will let you know how much of what type of work you do and what the rhythm of the workplace feels like.
On the other hand, simply asking about your responsibilities won’t paint a clear picture of what it will feel like to work there from day to day.
Know what it will take to succeed by walking in the footsteps of those who came before you. Asking this question will empower you to develop yourself in the way that it takes to achieve success.
You can also ask the recruiter how they think this person could have improved so that you understand how to do an even better job.
Additionally, you'll find out if this is a new position if there were no previous people in this role.
A job isn’t just an opportunity to make a paycheck. It’s also a chance to improve as a person and create more opportunities for yourself. This matters for your career path, but it also contributes to your happiness in your place of work.
Companies that invest in the learning and professional development of their employees have a lot to gain since they can benefit from the growth of their workforce.
94% of employees state they would stay at a company longer if the company invested in learning, so you can find out early on if this company offers the opportunities that fit your goals.
It can help you prepare for the position if you know why the previous person left. This question can also enlighten you on any red flags you should know about.
For example, is there a problematic person you need to prepare to deal with? Perhaps this person was promoted, which shows that this company values hiring from within. Or, did the previous person find the position too challenging?
If the latter is the case, you’ll know what you need to work on to make sure you overcome these challenges in a more effective way.
You need to know what challenges you’re going to walk into — not just for your position but for the company as a whole.
It also helps to know whether the company has a plan in place to overcome these challenges.
If they don’t, this could be another red flag.
This question shows engagement on your part. It proves that you don’t just want to come in and do your job, but that you want to participate in the betterment of the company.
In addition, your interviewer will see that you can see things long-term and not just short-term.
Asking this will also let you know if the company shares the same goals and vision as you.
This question is different from asking about soft skills. You should find out what makes someone likely to thrive in the organization, not just in one position.
You’ll know if you have a chance at a long-term career at this company based on what types of people typically thrive there.
Remind the recruiter to ask any last questions they may have forgotten about.
This proves that you care about being thorough and want to invest the time it takes to provide all the information the hiring manager needs.
Your interviewer may not discover they need some clarifications until after you’ve left.
So, asking this question gives them a chance to look everything over one more time and make sure there isn’t anything they find confusing or unclear in what you’ve already given them.
Not all companies use the same hiring process, which means not all hiring managers will reach back out to you within the same amount of time.
So you can ask this question at the end of an interview to clarify.
You’ll know when it’s appropriate to follow up if you clarify this information with the hiring manager first. Often, they'll let you know before you have to ask, but if they don’t tell you, be sure to find out.
Prepare what questions to ask the interviewer ahead of time so that you can find out everything you need to know about the job opportunity.
You won’t be able to ask all 20 questions.
Prepare to ask at least two to three questions during the interview.
But make sure you have at least five in your list of questions to choose from, in case the hiring manager answers some of them before you can bring them up.
When you ask the right questions, your hiring manager will see you care about the opportunity and that you’re engaged in the interview.
Find more interview tips and get help with your job search by visiting Jobcase's tips to getting hired resource center.