I often get asked this question by my clients: Should you ask questions during the interview? And if the answer is yes, what on earth would I ask that is going to make me look smart?

So I answer, “Yes, you definitely should ask questions.” I would even go as far to say that it is not an option but an absolute must. And why do I so strongly believe that? Because the interview isn’t just a chance for the employer to understand your skills and to see if you are a match for the role. It’s YOUR chance to see if the job and organisation is a good fit for YOU. Always keep that in mind – an interview is a two-way street.

Your attitude as a candidate matters as much as your experienceI often talk to recruiters and ask them: In an ocean of applications and candidates, how do you pick the ones that stand out. They always tell me that next to the skills that are required, they scan for cultural and human fit – and they look very much into the attitude of the candidate. This attitude starts from the moment you send an application to the moment you sign the contract.

What many employers are looking for in an applicant:

Positive attitude Curiosity Growth mindset Always willing to learn Keep in mind that how you act during the interview is as important as the answers that you give. So, how do you show that you are a curious person? By asking questions!

Even more so, if you do not have any questions to ask, there is a big chance that you will leave an impression of someone who is not that interested in the job or, even worse, of someone who doesn’t care.

What questions to ask?There are a couple of different topics during the job interview that you should ask questions about. I have written these topics along with ideas of potential questions below – so you don’t have to rack your brain for it.

Questions about roleFirst of all, asking questions about the role is very important as it enables you to show your enthusiasm for the role. It also enables you to get a full understanding of what you can expect from the role and what is going to be expected of you. You want to enquire about the role because you do not want to leave any room for assumptions.

The two best questions to ask regarding the role are:

Could you give me an idea of what success looks like in this job? What are the main challenges / opportunities related to this function? Keep in mind that these questions could be further fine-tuned depending on the role and department you are going to work in.

Sales or marketing roleFor example, if you are applying for a job in a sales department you could ask:

How is success measured in sales / business development positions? Can you describe the primary challenges or obstacles that someone in this sales role might face? If you are applying for a marketing role you could ask:

Can you share an example of a successful marketing campaign run by the team in the past year? What do you want the person in this role to accomplish in the next 30, 60 and 90 days? Asking questions like these shows the employer that you have knowledge about sales / marketing and that you are interested in how their organisation works. 

Financial roleIf you are applying for a role in the finance department, you can ask:

Can you provide more detail about the day-to-day responsibilities of this role, especially in terms of financial analysis and reporting? Can you share an example of a financial analysis project that the team has recently worked on? Getting to know as much about the role as you can will help you succeed in your career as you will gain more knowledge and experience in doing these types of interviews.

Questions about cultural fitThe questions that fall into this category allow you also to check if there is a fit between you, the department and its organisation. In order for you to be happy with your job, you not only need to love what you do but also feel good in the environment, alongside your potential peers, boss and subordinates.

So here are some questions to ask:

How would you describe the organisation’s culture and values? Why do YOU like to work for this organisation? (If you ask it to hiring manager, internal recruiter or a peer) What are the biggest challenges and / or opportunities for this organisation / department? How does the organisation promote diversity and inclusion? How does the organisation / department handle conflicts within the team? What types of professional development opportunities are available for employees? By asking these questions, you get a good idea of whether or not you as an individual would thrive at this organisation.

Questions about hesitationsThese types of questions will definitely require you to have some courage and guts, but they are so important to ask. This could be your chance to uncover any doubts your interviewer has and make sure to confirm you are the right person for the job.

It will also show that you possess a growth mindset and are not afraid to hear feedback, which is very important in Dutch working culture.

You could ask your interviewer:

In your view, how do I compare to the other candidates you have interviewed so far? Are there any specific skills or qualifications you’d like me to elaborate on or clarify? Based on our conversation today, do you have any reservations about how my skills and experience match with the role? Remember that your main goal here is to get to the bottom of any potential hesitation that the employer may have. It can also help you get feedback on you as a candidate. 

Be warm and friendlyNo matter which questions you ask during job interviews, do not forget to ask them using a friendly tone with a big, genuine smile on your face.

So here you go! These were 17 questions that you can and should ask during your next interview. Let me know in the comments below which ones were your favourites!

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