70 of the Best Questions to Ask in an Interview

It can be hard to know which questions to ask in an interview, both as an employer looking for the perfect candidate, and as an interviewee hoping to secure the role of a lifetime. Read on for 70 of the best interview questions you can ask to perform well and find the right professional fit.

Connor Campbell Published on 14 July 2022.
70 of the Best Questions to Ask in an Interview

According to a NerdWallet survey, one of the biggest business challenges facing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2022/23 is recruiting staff, with 70% of respondents labelling it an issue. In fact, just over a quarter (26%) of business leaders surveyed called it a ‘major’ challenge.

Part of the problem is that, as the employer, often all you have is the short window granted by an interview to decide whether a person is the right fit for your company. As a job candidate, meanwhile, your interview is the best chance you have at impressing a prospective employer and securing the role you want. No pressure then!

That means, regardless of what side of the interviewing divide you sit, it is important that the right questions are asked. Without the correct line of inquiry, you could end up missing out on the perfect candidate, losing that dream role, or finding yourself with an employee/employer mismatch.

Luckily we are here to help, not only with a guide on how to ask the best interview questions, but a list of some of the most incisive questions you can ask as both an employer and job candidate.

» MORE: Biggest challenges to small business

How to ask the best interview questions in 3 easy steps

While it is good to look at a page like this and survey all the possible questions you can ask, to get the most out of your interview, you should follow these three steps:

1. Do your research

It goes without saying that, as the job candidate, you should thoroughly look into the role and company you are interviewing for. But the reverse is true too.

As the interviewer, don’t just skim the candidate’s CV. See if you can find evidence of the work they have mentioned, and research their previous companies and positions in order to have a better context for your questions (and their answers).

Whether you’re an interviewee or interviewer, it is always a good idea to get to know a bit about the person who will be sitting on the other side of the table (or Zoom window), to give a more personal feel to the interview.

2. Tailor your questions

Once you have done your research, you can better tailor the interview questions you are going to ask. Using a list of questions as guidance is great but to get the most out of the interview, you want to make sure you are asking about that specific candidate or role, rather than a generic idea of either.

You may also want to consider what kind of answers you may receive, in order to prep follow-up questions, as well as what types of questions you yourself might be asked.

3. Prioritise what you want to ask

Time can easily run away from you in an interview, for good reasons and bad. That means you may not get a chance to ask all the questions you have noted down. It is wise to make a list of priorities, so you can ensure you get the information you definitely know you need.

As the interviewer, this means you will also know which ones you can potentially cut to allow those important questions time to breathe. While your instinct might be to fill an awkward silence by moving on to another question, giving a candidate those extra moments may cause them to open up and provide you with a more considered response.

As the job candidate, your opportunity to ask questions may be limited to a few minutes at the end. Select that one question you best think will impress the interviewer, as well as provide the insight you are looking for, alongside a few other options if you have additional time.

» MORE: How to interview someone

Questions to ask the job candidate

The following questions are suggestions, rather than a prescriptive list of everything you should ask a job candidate. Some will need to be tailored to your specific industry or field, while others may not apply at all. You know best what questions should be asked in an interview to secure the right fit for your business.

Think of these as a jumping-off point – five questions in each area that can make for a fantastic interview.

Role

  • What most excites you about this role?
  • What can you bring to the role that is unique to you?
  • What would you most want to get out of the role?
  • What made this role stand out from others you may have seen?
  • What three skills do you think would be most important for this position?

Company

  • Why are you interested in working for this company?
  • From what you have learned about the company, how would you describe our values?
  • As an outsider, what do you think we could do to improve as a company?
  • What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the industry in the coming years?
  • What would you do if you saw behaviour that breached the company’s values?

Experience

  • What’s the most important thing you’ve learned, either professionally or personally, while working at your current/previous employer?
  • What’s been the biggest challenge in your current role and how did you overcome it?
  • What has been the toughest piece of feedback you have received, and how did you react?
  • What has been your biggest achievement at your current role, and how did you make it happen?
  • Why are you looking to leave your current position?

Education and qualifications

  • Why did you choose the subject you studied at university/school/college?
  • How do you think the skills you have developed will help you in this role?
  • Have you taken any steps outside of work to learn new skills?
  • Are there any qualifications you would like to acquire in the next five years?
  • What is the most important thing you learned during your time at school?

Situational-based questions

  • How would you deal with a conflict in the workplace?
  • How would you approach prioritising multiple projects and deadlines?
  • Give me an example of a time when you thrived under your own initiative.
  • Give me an example of a time when you worked with other departments.
  • Give me an example of a time when you failed, and what you learned from that experience.

Personality-based questions

  • What motivates you to succeed?
  • Where would you like to be in five years?
  • Do you prefer working in a team or on your own?
  • What is your biggest weakness, and what do you do to tackle it?
  • What hobbies do you pursue outside of work, and what have you learned from them?

Questions to ask the interviewer

Depending on the style of interview, as the interviewee you may only have a limited opportunity to ask any questions. So you will need to make them count.

Below are five of the best questions in each topic area for you to consider asking in your own interview.

Role

  • What does a typical working day or week look like for this role?
  • What would be the first project I worked on if I were to join?
  • What do you think is the most important contribution I could make in this role?
  • What do you think will separate someone who is good at this job from someone who is fantastic at this role?
  • Is this a new role, or will I be replacing someone who is leaving?

Company

  • What is the company’s most important value, and how does it relate to this role?
  • What is the onboarding process like at this company?
  • What is the company’s position on remote or flexible working?
  • What is the main goal of the company in the next five years?
  • What do you think is the main attribute that makes the company stand out from its peers?

Culture

  • How would you describe the culture here?
  • What types of people tend to do well in this environment?
  • What do you think the people who work here most have in common?
  • How long do employees tend to stay at the company or in this team?
  • Are there frequent team or company events?

Professional development

  • What areas of professional development should I focus on in the next 12 months to be of the most value to the company?
  • Are there formal opportunities for training and professional development?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement in this role?
  • Is there a mentoring process for new employees?
  • How does the company help new employees succeed in their role?

Evaluation

  • How often does the company conduct performance reviews?
  • What are the key performance indicators associated with this position?
  • What are the performance expectations of this role over the first six months?
  • How is feedback given outside formal performance reviews?
  • How frequently would I have 1:1s with my manager, and what is typically discussed?

Interviewer

  • What is your favourite thing about working at this company?
  • What has been your biggest achievement since working here?
  • What has been your biggest challenge during your time here?
  • How has the company changed since you joined?
  • What is the one thing you wish someone had told you before starting at the company?

Team

  • How is the team structured, and who does the role report to?
  • What skills are the team missing that you are looking to find in an ideal candidate?
  • Does the team work cross-functionally with other departments?
  • What is the biggest challenge currently facing the team, and how would this role help?
  • How closely or often does the team work together on projects?

Next steps

  • When can I expect to hear back from you about this interview?
  • What would be the next steps in the process if I were to progress?
  • Whom should I contact if I have any further questions?
  • How many other people are being interviewed for this role?
  • Can I answer any final questions for you?

Image source: Getty Images

About the author:

Connor is a writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet. Previously at Spreadex, his market commentary has been quoted in the likes of the BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Reuters and The Independent. Read more

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