Stand Out By Asking Better Questions

How to Leverage the Question Portion of your Interview to Wow a Potential Employer

Do you have any questions for me? This is a sign your interview is wrapping up - it’s also a crucial time when many candidates drop the ball.

It has become common knowledge that not asking questions indirectly tells the interviewer you didn’t prepare or aren’t interested, but asking boring generic questions isn’t much better.

Why? Because it tells the interviewer you didn’t really think through the position you’d be taking on and that you’re really not a unique must-hire candidate. Asking the same questions as your competitors won't help you leave the positive lasting impression that will help set you apart and advance you to the next round.

As recruitment experts, who’ve prepped 1000s of candidates for job interviews, we’ve heard it all when it comes to interview questions. So we asked our team how candidates can level up commonly asked questions to stand out with hiring managers.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. Instead of Asking: Why is the position open?

Ask: What has prevented you from making a hiring decision so far?

Reason: While asking why a role is open is not necessarily a bad question, our suggested question enables employers to provide greater context and insights into what they seek and how they make decisions. The decisions of an employer impacts every employee. If how they make decisions or their attitudes towards hiring are not aligned with your values or approaches, it’s better to know early on.


2. Instead of Asking: What would my position look like?

Ask: How does this role contribute to the overall growth of the company?

Reason: When you ask what the position looks like, the answer you’ll most likely get will be what you have to do, which is already given in the job description. By asking about the role's contribution to the company's growth and goals, you will learn more about the company's longer-term vision, the scope of growth, and their plans for you in the future.


3. Instead of Asking: What would success look like?

Ask: What are the most important things you'd like to see me accomplish in the first 30-90 days of employment?

Reason: This question comes across as more confident and tells your interviewer that your mindset is geared toward performance. It allows you to get the most thorough answer on the role's true mandate versus just what was advertised in the job description. It showcases that your mindset is not only invested in what the company can do for you but also in what you can deliver for the company.


4. Instead of Asking: What is the exit strategy?

Ask: What business strategy are you focusing on to grow, and is the ultimate objective an IPO, to be acquired or remain independent?

Reason: Instead of a canned question, our suggested question reflects a more thoughtful desire to gain insight into the company's ultimate goal.


5. Instead of Asking: What is the culture like?

Ask: Ask about specific cultural aspects that will impact your day-to-day (see examples below)

Reason: The usual answer to this is something along the lines of "we do half-day Fridays," "we are like a family," “work-hard, play-hard,” or the much-dreaded "we have a foosball table and happy hour every week." Instead, ask questions that focus on how the culture will affect you personally:

  • How many meetings does the typical *Insert Your Role Here* attend in a typical day/week? 
  • How long have my team members been with the company on average?
  • What is your sprint/release cadence? etc.

We hope these questions help you stand out and ace the interview.


Is your next interview remote? Ensure you’re ready with our remote interview checklist. Or check out how to prepare for commonly asked questions during Sales and Product interviews.