Career Advice

9 Unique Questions to Ask in an Interview

min read
Mikaela Thompson

How many of you have responded to this question with a blank, vapid stare? After being grilled for what likely seemed an eternity and now running on empty with the urge to sprint out of the room, it’s so tempting to stammer a timid, “No, I’m all good.” But don’t! At this point, the ‘make or break’ decision could be made. Besides, it’s finally your chance to turn what might’ve felt like a ‘gestapo’ interrogation into a friendly, productive conversation. One in which you’re in the driving seat and where you can bask in the glory of your meticulous pre-interview research of this company and how they fit into market trends. As well, it’s an opportunity for you to have the final say as you dazzle the interviewer with your business acumen and foresight. You also have the added advantage of putting them on the back foot and needing to now justify, or at least explain, their company’s policies. We can all enjoy this turnaround, right?

Let’s be clear. 

Employers want ambitious go-getters who don’t require endless direction. Show your interest in the company and role specifically with your smart questions and put to rest any doubts they may have that you’re ‘tire kicking’ or ‘spinning the lucky draw wheel’ with your application. Have no qualms asking detailed, unique questions that will set you apart from the other applicants and will avoid your face being lost in the fog of other candidates.

Here’s how. 

1) Always ask one question about the future of this company, or current and impending projects associated with them.

2) An easy and effective way to find out what you need to do the above, is to trawl through relevant news sites to see if they’ve been featured recently, and/or visit the company’s website and LinkedIn account to see what recent accomplishments they’ve featured in them e.g., innovative approaches, newly developed technologies, new work associations, new awards given to them etc.

3) Steer clear of questions about vacations or benefits! These are better left for later in negotiations, to cement a job offer. 

4) Be mindful that most people ask the same generic questions. It’s better if you aim for a couple of unique questions that nobody else is likely to ask. Be memorable.

5) Ask questions about the company culture and specifics of the position rather than general ones that can be answered by looking on their website etc. Don’t use/rephrase questions about information already provided.

6) Prepare around 10 questions but expect to ask about three. This way, as some of them are bound to be covered earlier in the interview, you can strike these out and use the remaining ones, when you’re prompted.

7) Take note of how long the interview has already taken and assess the interviewer’s body language to determine how many questions to ask e.g., if s/he is relaxed, you’re good to ask more questions.

8) Ask short, direct questions. Pause after, to give the interviewer a chance to respond.

9) Use open-ended questions which stimulate conversation and will provide you with more comprehensive answers than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ closed questions.

10) Take pen and paper in so you can jot down notes from the interviewer’s answers. This will help you remember and will give a clear impression you sincerely want to know, and learn from, these answers. 

Here’s our composite list of some top recruiters’ best picks for unique questions to ask (with reasons).

1) What’s one thing you’re hoping a new employee can bring to the role? (Shows you’re smart, proactive and different)

2) What’s something that most successful employees do differently in this role? (Indicates thought and genuine interest in being a top performer).

3) What does it take to be successful in this company? (Displays your specific interest in this company, not just a pay cheque).

4) What would success look like in the first 90 days? (Lets them know you’re focused on success in the role and considering how to be a success for their company.)

Check out 26 more unique questions here.

5) What unique qualities are you expecting this position will provide the company? (Shows you want to be a part of important value added to their business and a contributor to innovation.) 

6) What’s the company culture like here? (Indicates you value soft skills and are genuinely considering if you’re a good fit for this company).

7) What metrics or goals will this company use to assess my job performance? (Presents yourself as keen to do well within their business and are willing to commit to the job/company). 

8) What’s the difference between a good employee and a great employee at this company? (Again, shows you want to be a top performer for them.)

Have a look at 50 more unique questions here.

9) Your last question should be about the next steps in the hiring process e.g., when will you hear back from them? (Shows you’d like to hear back regardless of the outcome of the interview.)

If you feel like you could do with some more brushing up on your interview skills, check out some of our latest tips here!

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