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questions every candidate should ask hr

Questions every candidate should ask HR in an interview

Artwork by: Lizabeth Zaft

  • 5 Questions to ask HR about the role
  • 5 Questions to ask the employer about the company
  • 5 Questions to ask HR about the team
  • 5 Questions for the interviewer
  • Questions to ask recruiters during a phone interview
  • Key takeaways

Looking to create a list of smart questions to ask HR in an interview? The right interview questions will both impress recruiters and give you the information you need to make informed job and career decisions. Read on to find out our top questions to ask recruiters.

If you’re nearing the end of an interview and you’ve knocked it out of the park so far, you’re probably starting to relax a bit and feel optimistic. Then the HR manager throws their last question at you, “Do you have any questions for us?” Answering, “No, you covered everything,” might be true, but it’s not going to send the right message to your interviewer.

HR professionals typically ask this question to assess your investment in the role and their company. It’s also an extra opportunity for you to find out more about the job opening and decide whether it’s a good fit for your skills, values, and career goals. So, what are the questions that every candidate should ask HR in an interview? In this article, we’ll cover:

  • 20 Questions to ask HR about the role, company, and team

  • Smart questions for the interviewer

  • 7 Questions to ask recruiters during a phone interview

Statistical Insight

According to the New York Post, one of the most annoying things to do at the end of an interview is ask too many questions. Asking a few questions related to the interview conversation or aspects of the job not already covered is fine. Having a laundry list of questions can often really tick off the interviewer.

5 Questions to ask HR about the role

Here’s some powerful questions to ask HR about the role and impress them with your commitment to delivering results, as well as learn more about the role itself:

1. How did the position become available?

Learning the background of the role offers a great insight into what the job will be like for you if you get appointed, whether this is a newly created role you can put your stamp on, or if there were any reasons why your predecessor left the role. 

2. How does the role contribute to wider company goals?

Bigger picture thinking will send the message that you understand the importance of, not only your specific role, but how this fits into the wider context of the organization. This can set you apart from other candidates who may simply be asking role-specific questions.

3. What are the most challenging aspects of this position?

Learning about the hard, stressful, and unconventional parts of your potential new job may not sound ideal, but it’s a great reality check to evaluate whether this is the right job opportunity for you.

4. What would my success in the role look like in 12 months time?

This question demonstrates your focus on achieving positive results and commitment to staying with the company over a longer period of time. The interviewer may also break down the 12 months into shorter term goals (or you can ask a follow-up question) providing you with a good steer on what is expected of you should you be offered the job. 

5. What key qualities are you looking for in a candidate?

Ask this question near the end of an interview after you’ve brought up more job-specific questions. Often, the HR manager will answer by talking about the emotional attitudes they want to see in their employees, for example, passion for the work, focus under pressure, being a team player, or personal integrity. 

5 Questions to ask the employer about the company

Will this company be a good fit for you personally and professionally? Here’s some insightful questions to ask the hiring manager and dig a bit deeper:

1. How do you see the company evolving in the near-future?

Questions like this allow you to build rapport with interviewers, giving them a chance to share their visions for the company’s future. With their answers to this question, you can also estimate how much your position’s responsibilities may change over time as the company’s needs shift.

2. Can you describe workplace culture?

This question gives you a peek into leadership style, rapport between co-workers and management, how busy or stressful an average day of work is, and so on. Information like this helps you figure out whether you’d enjoy working with this company and its employees.

3. What training and advancement opportunities does the company offer?

Demonstrating your focus on continual improvement and developing both personally and professionally is important. Tagging advancement to this question also cements your enthusiasm for the role and a commitment to staying with the company long term.

4. How does the company support diversity, equity and inclusion?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are major watchwords for job seekers, who are making this clear via their employment and consumer choices. Representing DEI matters through mission, vision, and value statements, as well as via employee groups, events, and initiatives, are great ways to measure company commitment to these areas.

Expert Tip

Practice active listening during your interview to show your interest in the position and allow you to pick up clues as to whether the position is a good fit for you. Appropriate eye contact, smiling, positive body language, and asking follow-up questions are all ways you can show your strong interest in the opportunity, while also fact-finding.

5. Is there any further information I can read to learn more about the  company while I wait to hear back on the outcome of the interview?

An eagerness to learn more about the company before you start a potential job is a great way to demonstrate your enthusiasm and create a long-lasting first impression.  

5 Questions to ask HR about the team

Have you potentially found your tribe? Finding a dependable, supportive, and collaborative team is going to ensure that you’re more happy, productive, and successful. Here’s how to uncover those all-important team dynamics:

1. Can you tell me about the team I would join in this role?

This is a smart question to ask HR as it shows your interest in getting to know your co-workers and that you value the importance of teamwork. You’ll also get a peek into the team dynamics and whether this would be a good fit for you.

2. How is feedback and critique managed by the team?

Receiving feedback and constructive criticism reflects your self-awareness and provides information on how the company supports employee growth and development. Hearing the words “transparency, independent decision-making, and information sharing” in the answer, are good indicators of a positive and supportive work environment.

3. What is the biggest challenge the team faced in the last 12 months?

Interviewers may try and sugar coat the answer to this question, but you’ll still get an insight into the types of challenges the team has faced in the last year. If this type of challenge plays to your strengths, make sure to communicate this to the hiring manager.

4. Who supervises this position?

If you’ve not already met your potential new supervisor, then you’re probably keen to find out who they are and what the management hierarchy looks like. If the interviewer only gives you brief details, you can always do some background research on social media platforms like LinkedIn to find out more.

5. Do you organize any team events outside of work?

Socializing and bonding with colleagues in a non-work setting can help strengthen relationships and cultivate a sense of belonging among team members. If the HR manager enthusiastically describes past and future events, it’s more likely you’ll be joining a collaborative and supportive team. 

  • Research the company fully before your interview. Asking simple questions about what the company does or typical clients won’t impress the employer.
  • Prepare extra questions. That way, if one or more of your questions is already answered during the interview, you’ll have a backup plan.
  • Ask questions about time off, flexible working, salary and benefits (unless of course the employer asks you about these topics specifically).
  • Ask too many questions. Stick to three questions that are important to you. This will ensure you don’t bombard the interviewer and leave on a positive note.

5 Questions for the interviewer

Throwing in a question specifically for the interviewer is the perfect way to build rapport and wrap up the interview in a positive way. Here’s some suggestions:

1. Why did you join the company and why did you stay?

A great question for rapport-building since you’re giving the interviewer a chance to share their life story (or career story, to be more precise). This is worded in such a way that it’s not intrusive and most employers will enjoy sharing their experiences in the workplace. 

2. I heard in the news that…

Conducting additional research on the company, then asking a customized question related to your findings will show the recruiter you really do want to work there. Google news feeds about the company, analyze the mission statement, and review LinkedIn profiles of your interviewer(s) and employees to learn more about recent wins and any accolades.

3. What’s your favorite thing about working for this company?

The answer to this question should excite you and make you really want to work for the company. Anything substantially less, may be a red flag and require you to do a bit more digging on employees’ job satisfaction levels. 

4. Do you have any questions about my suitability for the role? 

Ask this question right at the end of the job interview. If the recruiter or hiring manager says they have no more questions, that’s often a sign they’re ready to wrap up the interview. Addressing any concerns a potential employer has before they make a decision is one way you can quickly resolve any hesitations the employer may have about you. 

This question also demonstrates that you can handle constructive criticism and are eager to improve. Even if you don’t get the job, the answer to this question provides you with valuable feedback after the interview.

5. What are the next steps in the process?

Having a clear understanding of next steps in the hiring process will avoid you waiting and wondering what will happen next. You can also plan any interview follow-up activities in line with this timeframe. 

Questions to ask recruiters during a phone interview

Recruiters typically use phone interviews to screen candidates and reduce the pool of applicants who will be invited to an in-person interview. While this 20 to 30 minute conversation is at the early stages of the recruitment process, it’s still important to have some good questions to ask at the end of the interview to demonstrate your interest in the job opportunity. 

Here’s some examples:

  • What are the main objectives of the role?

  • What type of person do you think will excel in this role?

  • Can you tell me about the team/department I would be working with if hired?

  • What is the team dynamic like?

  • What is work-life balance like in the company?

  • What are the next steps in the interview process?

  • Is there anything else I can answer for you?

If you’re looking to ace your next interview, check out Career.io’s Interview Prep tool where you can complete mock interviews and receive actionable feedback.    

Key takeaways

  1. Preparing great questions to ask HR in an interview can help you stand out from other applicants and move forward in the hiring process.

  2. Ask questions to expand your understanding of the job and company as well as rapport-building questions that let interviewers share their career journey.

  3. Avoid questions about time off, flexible working, compensation and benefits as this can make you look money-obsessed and keen to plan time away from your potential new job.

  4. If you attend a phone interview as part of the hiring process, it’s still important to prepare some questions to ask HR during this preliminary screening stage.

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