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  1. Career Advice
  2. Interviewing
  3. Questions every candidate should ask HR in an interview
questions every candidate should ask hr
Helen Oswald

Helen Oswald

Questions every candidate should ask HR in an interview

Artwork by: Lizabeth Zaft

  • 11 Questions to ask HR during an interview
  • Questions to ask HR during a phone interview
  • Key takeaways

The right interview questions will both impress recruiters and give you the information you need to make informed job and career decisions. We look at a list of great questions you should ask in an interview.

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?” With no questions in mind, you may simply answer “No, you covered everything.” This might be a bad idea for the same reasons you shouldn’t answer “What is your biggest weakness?” with “I have no weaknesses.” 

HR professionals typically ask this question to assess your investment in the role and their company. It’s also a great opportunity for you to find out more about the company 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:

  • Summary of good questions to ask HR during an interview

  • 11 Questions to ask HR during an interview

  • Questions to ask HR during a phone interview

11 Questions to ask HR during an interview

A strong finish to an interview is just as important as a convincing start. Here are our top questions to ask HR during your interview:

1. “How did the position become available?”

Learning the background of the role offers an amazing 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. 

You can also ask follow-up questions to uncover more information. For example, if the role has become available due to a promotion you should follow up by asking how long the person was in the post and the reason they were promoted. This will give you a good indication of career progression opportunities as well as how the company measures success.

2. “How do you see your company evolving in the near-future?”

Questions like this let you 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.

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

Ask this question if you want to learn about the hard, stressful, and unconventional parts of your potential new job. The answer will give you a good idea if you will enjoy tackling the specific challenges of the role or if this isn’t the right job opportunity for you.

If you decide you are up for the challenge, try to memorize any useful information your recruiter shares. If you’re hired, these details will give you a chance to avoid common new employee mistakes and impress supervisors with your early efforts.

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.

4. “Can you describe workplace culture?”

This question gives hiring managers the chance to talk about their preferred style of leadership. (If you are meeting with HR, they will try to impart the hiring manager’s style as they know it.) You’ll also gain insight into the 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.

5. “Why did you join the company and why did you stay?”

This is a good 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 is not intrusive and often management professionals enjoy sharing their experiences. 

The answer to this question will also give you a great insight into company culture and values in respect of why they stayed with the company and whether that fits with your expectations too.

6. “Are there any opportunities for remote or hybrid working?”

The long quarantines of the COVID-19 pandemic made remote work schedules much more popular among managers and employees. As a consequence, interview questions about whether you can work remotely are a lot more acceptable than they were in the past. 

Depending on how recruiters answer the question listed above, you may even have a chance to negotiate a work-from-home arrangement during the final stages of the interview process.

7. “How is feedback and critique managed by the team?”

Showing your interest in receiving feedback and constructive criticism will reflect your self-awareness and also give you a good indication of how the company supports employee growth and development. If the HR manager highlights that the company is focused on transparency, encouraging independent decision-making and information sharing, these are all good things to hear in terms of a positive and supportive work environment.

8. “What key qualities are you looking for in a candidate?”

Ask interviewers 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. This question also helps you figure out whether this job is a good match for your current skill-set and experience level.

9. “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 across the employment lifecycle, through mission, vision and values statements as well as via employee groups, events, and initiatives are great ways to measure company commitment to these areas.

10. “I heard in the news that…”

Conducting in-depth research on the company, then asking a customized question related to your findings will show the recruiter your strong interest in the role and company. Google the company to check newsfeeds, analyze the mission statement, check the LinkedIn profiles of your interviewer(s) and employees to learn more about their background and experience.

Following the company’s accomplishments shows you do really want to work there.

11. “Do you have any questions about my suitability for the role?” 

Ask this question near the tail 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.

This is a great way to address any concerns a potential employer has before they make a decision. Not only can you 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. Employers highly value these attributes in a new employee.

Even if you don’t get the job, this question provides you with the information you need to be prepared for the next interview.

  • Tread carefully when asking HR questions about salary.
  • Check the job posting for salary and benefit details first to avoid any awkward revenue-related questions.
  • Wait until later in the interview process if you need to ask about salary so you don’t sound purely money motivated.
  • Be afraid to negotiate salary and benefits that fully meet your needs.
  • Undersell yourself in terms of salary. Check out Careerio’s Salary Analyzer to determine your salary range.
  • Forget to negotiate benefits. Think about your deal-breakers (remote working, health and wellness, training etc.)

Here’s a summary of the above questions:

  1. How did the position become available?

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

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

  4. Can you describe workplace culture?

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

  6. Are there any opportunities for remote or hybrid working?

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

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

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

  10. I heard in the news that… 

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

Questions to ask HR during a phone interview

Employers 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 HR at the end of the interview to back up your interest in the job opportunity. 

Let’s look at some questions you may want to ask during a phone screen interview.

  • Overall expectations. Start with questions that will allow you to learn more about the expectations of the role and the type of person the company is looking for. For example:

“What are the main objectives of the role?”

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

  • Work environment. Try to find out about the team you would be working with. It will give you a good idea as to whether the role will be a good fit for you. You may also uncover some more information on what the work environment is really like from the HR manager’s answers. Such as:

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

“What is the team dynamic like?”

  • Compensation. Compensation questions can be a bit tricky to ask, so phrasing things the right way is essential. Work-life balance and benefits are one way to find out if the employer values their employees.

“What is work-life balance like in the company?”

“Can you confirm any benefits associated with the role?”

  • Next steps. Wrapping up the phone interview, you can find out next steps and address any gaps that the interviewer may have by checking if they have any additional questions.

“What are the next steps in the interview process?”

“Is there anything else I can answer for you?”

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 passions, knowledge, and work philosophies.

  3. Be tactful when broaching questions about compensation and benefits and ask about these topics closer to the end of the interview process.

  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 interview.

Helen Oswald

Helen Oswald

Helen is an experienced content writer, with expertise in corporate law, business, sales, marketing and education. Prior to this, she worked in recruitment and human resources, so she has a strong sense of what recruiters are looking for in terms of a potential employee. Helen loves exploring new places, writing blogs of her travel across Europe and enjoying trips to the US, Thailand and the Middle East. She is an avid reader of fiction, poetry, self-help books and factual content and also enjoys creative writing in her spare time, including poetry and children’s fiction.

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