20 smart questions to ask a hiring manager
When you think of a job interview, the image that pops into your mind is likely of a hiring manager asking you questions to determine whether you'd be a good fit for the position. But interviews should rarely be a one-way conversation.
Not only do you need to know about the 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.
In this article, we’ll explore the best questions to ask a hiring manager and how to prepare for an interview.
Why is it important to ask the hiring manager interview questions?
Interview questions are a crucial part of the hiring process. These questions are designed to assess your skills, experience, and potential fit for the job. They’re also a great opportunity to get insight into the company culture, management style, and the role’s expectations.
When going through the interview process, it's important to ask the hiring manager questions to show them that you're engaged with their company and interested in the position. Asking questions can also help you better understand the job opportunity and how your skills might fit the role.
There are several types of interview questions. For example, open-ended questions allow a deeper understanding of the candidate, technical questions focus on specific skills, and behavioral questions assess certain behaviors or attitudes.
These questions can aid the hiring manager in understanding how you think and process information and your communication style.
In addition to getting insight into your skill set, the hiring manager can better understand how you handle pressure and react to stressful situations. Asking questions shows you're engaged and proactive, which can provide you an advantage over other candidates.
Why you should have questions prepared before your interview
Most successful employees are prepared for job interviews. That means having a good understanding of the job and company, researching their culture and values, preparing answers to common questions in advance, and developing thoughtful questions of your own.
Preparing questions before your interview is crucial because it shows that you researched the organization and position and considered what you want to learn from the hiring manager. It also demonstrates that you are engaged and interested in the job opportunity and puts you in a better position to stand out from other candidates.
Learning common interview questions and spending time practicing your answers is important, but having questions of your own is even more valuable. Practicing questions you can ask the hiring manager during your interview will ensure you make a positive impression and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job.
You don't want to get thrown off by questions like "why should we hire you?" or "what are your weaknesses?" during an interview. Preparing for the meeting and practicing your answers ensures you can articulate your thoughts clearly and confidently.
How to prepare for an interview
Being prepared for the interview process is essential if you’re getting ready to switch careers or look for a new job. Preparation can help you land the job and ensure that you make a suitable impression on the hiring manager. Here are some tips to prep for your next interview.
Understand the job and company culture
With any job opportunity, begin by researching the company and understanding the role you’re applying for.
Read through the job description carefully to ensure that you understand the responsibilities and daily duties of the position. Learning more about the company’s history, values, and culture can also give you insight into the type of people they want to employ.
Create a list of questions and outline answers
Before the interview, creating a list of questions and outlining answers to some common interview questions is helpful. Some questions you should be equipped to answer are:
What is your experience in this field?
Why do you want to work here?
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Why should we hire you?
What do you know about our company?
Practice answering tough questions out loud
Once you’ve created a list of questions and outlined answers, you should practice answering them out loud. This will help you become more comfortable speaking about yourself in an interview setting and ensure you answer questions clearly and confidently.
Prepare an elevator pitch about yourself
An elevator pitch briefly overviews who you are, how you operate, and a potential example that demonstrates your value. Here’s a great example:
“I’m a Senior Marketing Manager who takes a collaborative approach to problem solving. In my most recent role at Abacus Agency, our greatest challenge was making the most of our Clients’ budgets by creating highly targeted . Since we didn’t have time (or resources) to test inbound assets, my team collaborated to create a data pipeline that extracted intelligence from past campaigns with Clients with a similar profile and we found the right assets to put into production right away. We saved our Clients 65% of their budgetary costs and had a 35% ROI on targeted content.”
Elevator pitches like these instantly pique a hiring manager’s curiosity because it’s so clear and compelling. You make a definitive statement but are able to follow it up with real evidence.
The “pitch” should be about 30 seconds long and your aim is to spark interest in who you are and what you do. After this, they’re going to want to learn more about you — and that’s your goal.
Plan to practice an elevator pitch in case the interviewer asks you to introduce yourself or explain why you’re the best candidate for the job.
Dress for success and bring a copy of your resume
You should always dress appropriately for an interview and bring a copy of your resume. First impressions are important, and the way you dress can speak volumes about your professionalism. Additionally, having your resume on hand shows you’re prepared and ready for the interview.
Be aware of your body language
Your body language can communicate a lot about how you’re feeling, so it’s important to be aware of your posture, facial expressions, and gestures during the interview.
Make sure you’re making eye contact and smiling, and sit up straight to give off a confident and professional appearance. Being yourself will help you stand apart from other candidates but ensure to maintain an awareness of your body language — both, what you’re doing and how it’s being perceived.
In the long run, these details will make a significant and positive difference in an interview.
Demonstrate good communication skills
Good communication skills are vital for success in any job. During your interview, be sure to speak clearly and concisely and listen carefully to the questions you’re being asked.
Communicating clearly and effectively demonstrates that you can handle the job and work well with others.
Conduct an informational interview
An informational interview is a fantastic way to get more information about a company and its role before the interview. You can reach out to someone in the company or in a similar role and ask them questions about their experience and what they enjoy about their job.
This can be helpful in preparing for the interview, as well as seeing if it’s a good fit for you.
Create a list of your current goals and future goals
Before the interview, create a list of both your current and future goals. This will help you show the interviewer that you have a clear career trajectory in mind and understand what it takes to achieve success. Your goals should be realistic and relate to the job you’re interviewing for.
Each interview is different, but preparing ahead of time is vital to making a good impression. Doing research, practicing answering questions aloud, preparing an elevator pitch, dressing for success, and being aware of your body language are all important steps to take before an interview.
Top 20 questions to ask a hiring manager during an interview
So now you know that coming up with questions to ask your hiring manager is an important part of the interview preparation process. But what should you ask in the first place?
Here are 20 interview questions to ask the hiring manager to make a good first impression, show interest in the job and the company, and get hired more easily.
1. What will the job entail?
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’d fall to you that weren’t mentioned?
Let them know you’d like them 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'll 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 learn 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 manager is interested in you as a candidate, they won’t mind answering your questions.
2. What are your expectations for the person who’s hired?
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 try to meet those expectations.
After all, if you didn’t care about stepping up, you wouldn’t be asking.
3. Is this a new position or an established role?
Knowing whether the position you’re applying for is new or established will show you a couple of helpful factors to keep in mind.
First, if it’s a new position, it’ll give you insights into the business’s success. If they can hire a new employee, it usually means the company is doing well — and there’s likely a lot of room for career advancement.
Secondly, if it’s an established position, a previous employee has already set the groundwork, and it’ll be easier for you to jump in and hit the ground running.
4. Is this a job with room for advancement?
Asking about potential opportunities down the road is an excellent question because it shows engagement in the interview and 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.
A study by Toggl found the “true cost” of hiring an employee in 2023 could be as much as $16,999.
If we’re talking about cost per hire, the standard formula created by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) accounts for internal and external costs — and these could be as much as $150,000, depending on how many individuals are being hired.
In this example, spending $4,300 per hire may not seem like much but when you consider the sum of those internal and external costs, it’s significant — and the numbers only decrease if you can distribute the costs among multiple hires.
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.
5. Can you describe some current projects and how I’d fit into them?
Getting an inside view of the exact types of projects being worked on is a big help. By asking this question, you’ll be able to create a clear image of what your working days at the company will look like.
You’ll better understand the tasks you’ll need to perform and the different aspects of the job that you may not have previously considered.
6. What does the ideal candidate for this position look like? How do I compare?
This question helps you determine what type of skills you need for the position (i.e., communication skills, analytic skills, etc.) — which will help you determine if it’s genuinely the best workplace for you and if you’ll be able to fulfill expectations.
By clarifying this early on, you can avoid wasting your time and the hiring manager’s time if you aren’t a good fit.
Although job postings 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.
7. What soft skills do you believe would help a candidate succeed in this position?
Soft skills matter for your career just as much as hard skills.
Hard skills may be evident when describing a job opportunity, but the required soft skills may hide underneath the surface.
Also, knowing what soft skills are required for a position will help you determine the company's values.
For example, if the hiring manager tells you that empathy is an essential soft skill, you’ll know that this organization likely values empathy and respect between staff members.
8. What is the turnover rate like in this department?
If the company has a high turnover rate, it means that many of its employees are leaving for one reason or another. This is a big red flag because it usually means that something within the company makes employees unsatisfied with their jobs.
If this is the case, you should do a bit more research after the interview and look at company reviews on sites like Payscale to determine why employees are unhappy.
The biggest reasons employees are unhappy are usually related to income, work-life balance, or bad management.
On the other hand, if the organization has a low turnover rate, it means that employees are satisfied and that there’s a good work atmosphere — which means that you’ll likely also enjoy working there.
9. Tell me more about the company’s culture.
Company culture matters when determining whether you’d fit a position well.
Depending on your values and the company’s priorities, you’ll know whether you can be happy there.
For example, if you thrive in a high-performing workplace, but the company you’re interviewing for prefers lower-pressure work methods, you may realize you won’t be able to do your best in this role.
10. Who would I be reporting to?
As a potential new hire, it's important to know who your boss will be and if you 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 the process.
Also, consider asking to meet the person you’ll report to and see if you get along. You may learn about their management style to understand what working for them will be like.
11. Who will I be working with on a daily basis?
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 will collaborate with these people to further understand your role in the workplace ecosystem.
12. What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of this team?
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the team you'll be working with is a huge plus since you can prepare yourself to be a great asset.
You’ll know what to expect and how to use your strengths to build up the team’s weaknesses to achieve more success — and potentially become a team leader in the future.
This is especially useful if you’re a strategic person who likes to plan ahead for future promotions and job goals.
13. What’s your favorite part about working here?
You’ll get to know the interviewer more by asking this question. 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.
14. What are the biggest challenges for this position?
A job isn’t all fun and games; even the easiest positions will come with 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.
15. What does a typical day look like in this position?
You’ll better understand whether you’ll enjoy a role when you have a clearer picture of your day.
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’ll feel like to work there from day to day.
16. How have previous people in this position succeeded?
Know what it’ll take to succeed by walking in the footsteps of those who worked in the role before you. Asking this question will empower you to develop yourself in the way 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.
17. How does the company support the growth of its employees?
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 also contributes to your happiness in your place of work.
Companies that invest in their employees' learning and professional development have a lot to gain since they can benefit from the growth of their workforce.
94% of employees state they’d stay at a company longer if it invested in learning, so you can find out early if this company offers the opportunities that fit your goals.
18. Which qualities do you believe matter the most to be successful at this company?
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.
19. Do you need me to clarify anything we’ve discussed or elaborate on any details on my resume?
Your interviewer may not discover they need clarifications until after you’ve left.
So, asking this question gives them a chance to look everything over again and ensure there isn’t anything they find confusing or unclear in what you’ve already provided.
20. When can I expect to hear back from you?
Not all companies use the same hiring process, meaning not all hiring managers will reach out to you at the same 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.
Ask the right questions and impress your hiring manager
Prepare what questions to ask the interviewer beforehand so you can find out everything you need about the job opportunity.
You won’t be able to ask all 25 questions. Prepare to ask at least two to three questions during the interview. But make sure you have at least five on your list.
When you ask engaging questions, your hiring manager will see you care about the opportunity and are engaged in the interview. Just make sure the questions you ask weren't already answered elsewhere in the interview.
Find more interview tips and get help with your job search by visiting Jobcase's tips to get hired resource center.
Here’s one from personal experience. Why can’t the hiring manager hire people Instead of corporate?