How to answer: "Do You Have Any Questions For Us?"

Friday, March 31, 2017

At this stage of an interview the temptation can be to either escape as soon as you can or ask something clichéd about the organisation's training and development plans. Instead, now is the time to ask some smart questions to show you have really thought about the challenges and expectations of the role and that you are aligning these with your own career goals. Interviews of course are a two-way process. Exernal hiring can go wrong because the incoming candidate doesn't understand the realities of the role, which may bear little resemblance to the job description. By the time they have understood the true picture it can be too late for both parties.

This is your chance to probe: asking about strategy, operations, people and processes. Here's some suggestions:


  • If you were taking this role, what would your priorities be?
  • What do you expect me to achieve in my first three months?
  • Who are the main stakeholders that I need to influence?
  • Are you expecting some quick wins?
  • How will my performance be evaluated?
  • Which issues preoccupy the staff - are these the same as the management?
  • If you were me, where would you focus your attention?
  • What changes do you expect me to make?
  • What are the most promising unexploited opportunities for growth? What would need to happen for the organisation to exploit the potential of these?
  • Is the business really pursuing its stated vision and strategy? Why not? Is the strategy really taking it where it needs to go?
  • What lurking surprises could detonate and push me off track?
  • What are the most formidable barriers to making changes?
  • What potentially damaging cultural or political missteps could I make?
  • How is the job likely to change over the next couple of years?


Where appropriate, explore actual performance, morale, expectations, interaction, capability, systems, culture, reporting chains. As well as giving you the information you need, asking questions like these will create a strong picture in the interviewer's mind of you actually in the role, working with them.

What shouldn't you ask? Use common sense and only ask questions that the person is qualified to answer (so some of these may not be suitable at first interview stage with HR for example). Be cautious with closes like "do you have any concerns about my application?" A recruiter was once asked 'how many days can I have off sick before I need to produce a doctor's note?' which is probably counter-productive.

This article was written by Executive Coach Zena Everett