Impress The Interviewer With These Questions

Impress The Interviewer With These Questions

By: Sarah Sipek, CareerBuilder


There comes a point in every interview when the tables turn and you have the opportunity to ask the questions. And it’s a big opportunity. So don’t waste it.

When it comes to impressing your interviewer, generic and uninspired questions just won’t cut it. It’s important to come prepared with a list of questions that will spark thoughtful conversation and differentiate you from the pack of other applicants.

Here are a few of the questions interviewers say helped candidates stand out and land the job.

Ask something.

It is never appropriate to decline the opportunity to ask more questions. Responses such as, “You’ve answered all my questions,” or “I can’t really think of anything at the moment,” communicate a lack of preparedness and disinterest to the employers, says Elizabeth Minei, founder and CEO of EMinei Consulting, LLC. “There are no interviews so thorough that the candidate will be left with no questions,” Minei says. “Prepare upwards of 10 questions, write them down in a notebook and have them easily accessible during the interview.”

Ask about competitors.

Employers want to know that you did more to prepare for the interview than print out your resume. It’s important to demonstrate that you’ve researched both the company and the marketplace in which they compete. Asking questions about competitors achieves this goal.

Mat Patterson, customer service manager at Campaign Monitor, recommends posing the following: “When I did some research, it looked like your closest competitors in the market are ‘X’ and ‘Y’. What would you say are the core differences between you and them?” In addition to showing off market knowledge, questions like this gives the interviewer the opportunity to ask you about your research¬† and perspective, which will help you differentiate yourself from other candidates.

Ask about long-term goals for the position.

It’s important to demonstrate to potential employers that you are capable of long-term commitment and are growth minded, says Minei. She suggests asking questions such as, “What are the added responsibilities that you anticipate this role taking on over time?” or “Do you envision this role will gain increased autonomy or leadership over time?” Asking questions like these communicates to employers you are interested in growing with the company and are not using the company as a stepping stone.

Ask why they work there.

Workplace culture is becoming an increasingly important differentiator among employers. Asking an interviewer why they continue to work for their company pushes the conversation in the direction of culture and shows you are concerned not only with finding a well-paying job, but also about finding the right “fit”.

Ruth Wilson, director if development at Brightmont Academy, says that her favorite question is, “Why do you continue to work here?” It instantly puts me in the comfort zone of being able to talk about our culture and some of the non-tangible perks of working at Brightmont Academy,” Wilson says. Questions like this lead to a discussion of the day-to-day life in the position, which causes the interviewer to envision you working at the company.

Ask if there is any reason they won’t hire you.

It may seem like a big risk, but at the end of the interview you should directly ask if the employer has an reservations about hiring you. This closing question gives you the opportunity to address any concerns in the room before the door closes and the team begins their post-interview deliberations, says Anthony Richardson, general partner at Agility Collective.

If you decide to ask this question, be prepared to counter any potential concerns with evidence-based examples of how you can excel in an area an interviewer presumes you to be weak.

Sarah Sipek is a writer for the Advice & Resources section on She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.


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