11 Questions to Ask When Interviewing for a New Position

Finding a new job in our current climate is already a difficult situation. That’s why, if you snag an interview for a new job, it’s important to stand out.

This goes beyond putting on your best shirt for your Zoom interview (we won’t tell if you’re still rocking the sweat pants). A good candidate needs to be genuinely curious about what the job entails and show that they aren’t just trying to meet a “checklist” for the interviewer.

One way to show that you are above and beyond the competition is by asking some questions about the opportunity. Asking these questions during your interview can also ensure that this is actually a position that you want and that you don’t end up in a position that is worse than your current one, or just jumping to another lackluster pin on your career path.

Here are 11 great questions to ask during your interview, straight from a hiring manager!

1. Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of this job? This is your chance to learn as much as possible about the job so that you can decide whether this is a job that you really want. By learning more about the day-to-day tasks, you will also gain more insight into what specific skills and strengths are needed. This also allows you to address any skills, applications and more that you’d like to highlight that haven’t already been covered.

2. What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role? This question can often lead to valuable information that’s not in the job description. It can help you learn about the culture and expectations so you can show that you are a good fit. Sometimes, you don’t interview for the skills, you interview for the people with whom you’ll be working.

3. What are your expectations for this role during the first 30 days (or 60 days, 6 months, etc.)? Find out what the selecting official’s expectations are for the person in this position, as well as the speed at which this position is expected to grow and develop.

4. Describe the culture of the branch or division. Are you a good fit for this particular team?  Make sure you are comfortable with the culture and the dynamic of the branch. You might be fantastic at crunching numbers, but if the team dynamic isn’t there, you might end up without the proper support, job satisfaction, etc.

5. Where do you think the division or this job is headed in the next 5 years? If you plan to be in this role for several years, make sure the division is growing so you can grow with it. This question also implies that you are in this position for the long haul, which many employers find attractive (if that’s your intention, that is!).

6. What are the biggest opportunities facing the division right now? This question shows your drive to seize the opportunity and may help you learn more about what the division or the team will be facing in the next several months.

7. What are the biggest challenges facing the division right now? On the flip side, you might want to ask about challenges. This question can help you uncover trends and issues in the division and perhaps identify areas where your skills could save the day. Note that this question can be a little tricky as it may come across as presumptuous, but try to approach it as someone who can help address and work on those challenges and help the team succeed.

8. What do you like best about working for this division? Ask about your interviewer’s personal experience for additional insight into the division’s culture. If your interviewer does not work in that particular division, ask about the agency or office as a whole!

9. What is the typical career path for someone in this job? This question can help you learn whether the division promotes from within and how career advancement works within the organization. By asking the question, you show your interest in growing with the division. Just be careful not to phrase it in a way that sounds too self-serving (i.e. When can I expect a raise and a promotion?).

10. How do I compare with the other candidates you’ve interviewed for this job? This is a slightly risky choice. You don’t want to put the selecting official in an awkward position. However, if things are going well, this question can help you see if there are any concerns or issues that you could address to show why you’re the best person for the job.

11. What are the next steps in the interview process? This question shows that you are eager to move forward in the process. It will also help you gain important information about the timeline for hiring so that you can follow up appropriately. Remember, a thank you letter after the interview is always a good bet!

Myranda Whitesides is a Performance Support Specialist for the Interior Business Center, the Department of Interior’s Shared Services Center. She conducts personnel and payroll systems training for over 50 federal agencies, as well as providing training in Diversity and Inclusion for her peers. Myranda also serves as the Education Co-Director for the Mile High Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), coordinating Educational content for Human Resources professionals in the Denver Metro area. Myranda also enjoys singing, camping, and exploring local breweries and restaurants with her husband, Daniel.

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Myranda Whitesides

That’s great to hear! Sometimes it is scary to ask about culture but considering you’ll be spending a good chunk of time with these people, it’s good to know what kind of culture you’ll be dealing with!