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Questions You Want to Ask

Enda Goodwin

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Field Agent

Field Agent

Asking the right questions serves a number of purposes. First, it helps you get the information you need to match up your qualifications to the requirements of the job. Second, good questions on your part can make strong impressions on interviewers, and convince them that you're the person for the job. Finally, it is the way to get the information you need to evaluate the position and make a decision as to whether it is the right one for you.

At minimum, there are five areas in which you need to ask questions. The subject areas are listed below, along with the kinds of questions you might ask.

Asking questions throughout the interview results in a more interactive exchange, and is less awkward than waiting to ask them toward the end, after the subject has changed. If you have the opportunity, ask as you go.

Not all of the following questions are appropriate to ask of all companies, and the list is by no means all-inclusive. You need to match the questions to the organization based on what you know about it and what you need to know. Consider this a starting point for constructing your own list. 

Responsibilities of the position?

  • What are the major responsibilities of this position?
  • Does a job description exist for this position and, if so, may I see it?
  • Beyond the job description, what are your expectations?
  • How long has this position existed in the organization?
  • What would be the next career progression?
  • What situations need immediate attention?
  • What qualifications do you expect the successful candidate to have?

Resources available to accomplish responsibilities

  • May I meet the people who work in the department?
  • What experience, training and tenure do the employees in the department have?
  • Does the company provide training programs?
  • Does this department have its own budget?
  • What is the budget and how is it administered?
  • What interdepartmental or corporate support is available to accomplish the department's goal?

Level of authority

  • Whom would I be supervising in this position?
  • What are the reporting relationships?
  • How long has the supervisor of this position been with the company?
  • What is the supervisor's experience and training?
  • What are the established guidelines and procedures for making decisions in this position?
  • Are the departmental policies and procedures documented?
  • What would be the extent of my authority to carry out the responsibilities of this position?
  • Would I have the authority to hire/terminate employees in order to accomplish the goals?
  • Would I have direct input for the department budget? Would I be totally responsible for developing the budget while in this position?
  • Which of my decisions would require approval? Who would approve?

Performance measurements

  • What are the short and long-term goals of the position, and how are they established?
  • Has the position been evaluated by some established means?
  • Do you have an appraisal system? How does it work?
  • How is performance measured against the goals of the department?
  • What is the most important contribution you would expect from me during the first six months?
  • How would successful performance be measured and rewarded?
  • How often is performance reviewed in this position?

Corporate culture

  • How would you describe the culture of the organization?
  • How would you describe the organization's management style?
  • Is the company environment formal or informal, structured or flexible?
  • Do you operate in a centralized or decentralized manner?
  • Can you describe the interdepartmental relationships?
  • What has the turnover rate of the department been?
  • Why is this position open?
  • Are there any internal candidates being considered for this position?
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