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Ask Effective Interview Questions

A job interview is a two-way street. It’s true that you’re being considered for a position, but you’re also considering whether the employer would be a good fit for you. To that end, asking questions helps show what you can contribute to the organization and allows you an opportunity to shape the conversation to better highlight your talents.

See also: 10 tough interview questions.

Here are some tips for asking questions during an interview. Keep in mind that these are simply suggestions to get you started — try to come up with your own questions for your particular interviewing situation. To find more tips and tools for your job search, visit the AARP Work Resources Web page.

1. Prepare.

  • Have your questions in mind beforehand.
  • Don’t expect to get all of your questions answered during the first interview—save more detailed questions for the second one.
  • Have at least one question ready for when the interviewer inevitably asks, Do you have any questions? Not having any questions indicates a lack of interest in the job or the organization.
  • Don’t ask questions that you can easily find the answers to on the employer’s website or other information source.

2. Take cues from the interviewer.

  • Respond to the interviewer’s cues, and ask questions during the conversation.
  • Avoid asking all of your questions at once at the end of the interview.
  • Try not to ask questions when the answer is obvious or after the topic has been thoroughly covered.
  • Ask for clarification about the interviewer’s questions when needed — or when it can show your level of focus on the discussion. For example, "Before I answer, can you give me more details on that?" or "As I understand it, the question you’re asking is.... Is that right?"

3. Ask questions like these that generate discussion.

  • What are the priorities for this job in the first few months?
  • What are the most important challenges you’d like the person you hire to address?
  • What is the management style like?
  • Tell me about how people typically work here. Do they work independently or in teams?
  • How will job performance in this position be measured?
  • Can I clarify anything for you about my experiences and skills?
  • Do you have questions about my qualifications that I can address now?

4. Save some questions for the end of the interview.

  • Can you tell me where you are in the process of making a hiring decision?
  • When can I expect to hear from you?

Next: Take action! Prepare questions in advance »

Unless the interviewer brings it up, avoid talking about salary requirements in the first interview. If it does come up, you might simply ask what the salary range is for the position. Also, wait until you’ve been offered the job to ask any specifically human resources-related questions.

Asking questions throughout the interview shows that you pay attention to what others are saying. It also shows that you’re confident and can anticipate issues the interviewer has yet to address.

If you still have questions following the interview, weave them into your thank-you note, and follow up within a week or two, depending on the employer’s hiring time line.

Take Action!

Prepare questions in advance of your interview.

  • Don’t ask questions that you can easily research on the employer’s website or other information source.
  • Weave your questions into the conversation rather than asking them all at the end.
  • Think about what type of work culture you’d be comfortable in and ask questions to get a sense of the organization. For example, if you prefer working on a team instead of independently, ask how people tend to work there.
  • Avoid the salary discussion in the first interview. If pressed, ask what the salary range is, and try to leave it at that.

Visit the AARP Work Resources Web page for more tips and information to help with your job search.

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