“Do you have any questions for me?”

We’ve all been on the receiving end of that question in an interview. If you’re prepared, you’ve probably got some good questions you usually cycle through.

But we want to be better than “good” in an interview. We want to be standout candidates that hiring managers are excited to extend an offer to.

One thing you can do to separate yourself from other applicants? Ask good questions.

Apply for a job, keep track of important information, and prepare for an interview with the help of this free job seekers kit.

“I’m always surprised at the lack of good questions candidates have, and I always respect the candidates that ask insightful questions during interviews,” says Andrew Quinn, former VP of Learning and Development at HubSpot.

To help you prepare to stand out at your next interview, here are some questions that’ll make hiring managers’ ears perk up. Then, discover some valuable questions you might want to start the recruitment process with when you’re on the phone with human resources (HR). Try them at your next interview and see how the conversation changes.

Questions to Ask the Hiring Manager During Job Interviews

1. How does this role contribute to larger company goals?

It’s not terribly difficult to find a candidate that can execute on a role. It is terribly difficult to find a candidate that can not only execute on their role, but also understand how it fits into larger goals. This includes being able to self-manage, prioritize high-value activities, and grow their role in a direction that aligns with the company’s growth.

How It Helps You

This information can be hard to come by if your company isn’t very communicative or transparent, so this is a good chance to get that information while the gettin’s good, and use it to guide your decisions if you land the role.

2. What do the most successful new hires do in their first month here?

This question shows that you’re the type of person who likes to hit the ground running, instead of spending a week filling out HR forms. It also shows that you recognize patterns of success and want to replicate only the most effective performers.

How It Helps You

Every company has its weird nuances, its own environment, and its own unspoken expectations. This helps you start with a little bit of the insider info so you don’t suffer a case of “if I knew then what I knew now” in six months.

3. What metrics would you use to measure success in this role?

Asking a question like this shows that you’re goal-oriented and aren’t afraid to be held accountable for those goals. You don’t shirk accountability. You welcome it — and will work hard to hit the goals you’re responsible for.

How It Helps You

It’s shocking how many people don’t actually know what they want from their employees beyond a vague idea of some work that needs to get done. Asking this question will force a hiring manager to figure it out — and then can communicate it to you, so you can execute on it.

4. What are some of the challenges or roadblocks one might come up against in this role?

A question like this indicates that you’re already envisioning yourself in the role and thinking through a plan of attack, should you land the gig. It’s also a sign that you’re well aware that no job comes free of roadblocks. It shows that not only are you not afraid to deal with those challenges, but you’re also prepared for them.

How It Helps You

The response you receive should help you better understand some of the less-than-ideal aspects of the job — difficult colleagues, bureaucratic processes, internal politics, and so on. You can use that information to decide that the role really isn’t a good fit for you … or that you’re up for the challenge.

5. What is the biggest challenge the team has faced in the past year?

While the interviewer might be trying to paint a pretty perfect picture of what working on the team might look like, asking this question will help you uncover some of the realities the team has been facing recently. If you end up joining, you’ll inevitably hear about these challenges — and you may have to help solve them, too. This is a question our principal recruiter Katie Donohue says she likes to hear during interviews.

How It Helps You

It really helps to know what challenges you could find yourself or your team up against ahead of time. In some cases, it could affect whether you accept the role. Not only that, but learning about these challenges could give you some great insights into the steps the team has taken to overcome these challenges already.

6. Why did you decide to work at this company?

This question gives an interviewer a chance to do two self-serving things: talk about themselves and perform a no-holds-barred sales pitch on the company. For promising candidates, the sales opportunity is welcomed. And most people love any excuse to talk about themselves. 😉

How It Helps You

This gives you insight into what motivates your future colleague or manager, as well as insight into what the company offers its employees. If those all line up with what you’re looking for in a job, you’ve got yourself a good fit.

7. You’ve been at this company for while. What keeps you motivated?

If your interviewer has been at the company for several years, understanding why could give you some really interesting insight into the company, how it treats its employees, and a taste of what motivates the people who work there. Plus, it shows you’ve done your research on the interviewer, which is always an impressive sign.

How It Helps You

Depending on the interviewer’s answer, you might learn something about the company’s career training, leadership opportunities, workplace flexibility, internal job opportunities, and more. You might dig a little deeper by following up with related questions, like, “What do you enjoy most about working here?”

8. Where do people usually eat lunch?

Do they take the time to go out? Do people bring lunch but eat in groups? Do folks normally eat at their desks because they’re too busy to socialize? Asking this question serves as a great way to find out a little bit about the company culture. Plus, this is a more lighthearted question that might relax a stiffened atmosphere or lead to a conversation about shared interests.

How It Helps You

Along with learning about company culture, it doesn’t hurt to get a few good lunch suggestions for the future.

9. What is your company’s customer or client service philosophy?

This is an impressive question because it shows that you can make the connection between how the company thinks about its customers and the end result. In other words, how the customer is treated on a day-to-day basis, and in turn, how that shows up in the product.

How It Helps You

While you might be able to find a canned response to this question on the company’s website, it’ll be useful — and possibly eye-opening — for you to hear it more candidly from an employee. How the company treats its customers could end up informing your decision to join if you are offered the job, especially if you’re applying for a job where you’ll be communicating directly with customers.

10. What are some of the less tangible traits of successful people on this team?

Ever work with people that just get it? That’s who hiring managers are looking for. This question demonstrates that you understand a job is about more than just going through the motions. Successful people have a specific frame of mind, approach, attitude, work ethic, communication style, and so on — and you want to know what that mix looks like at this company.

How It Helps You

Because these characteristics are often hard to pin down, this question forces a hiring manager to articulate that “it factor” they’re really looking for — even if it wasn’t written in the job description.

11. What behaviors do the most successful members of the team exhibit?

Asking a question like this shows you’re interested in getting a practical example of what success looks like to the manager of the team you’d be joining. Plus, when you phrase the question in this way, “you leave no room for a hypothetical answer,” says Dave Fernandez, a former recruiting team lead at HubSpot. Instead, you’re pushing the hiring manager to think about their top performer.

How It Helps You

Because this question forces an example, the answer to this question will give you a strong idea of what success actually looks like. That way, you’ll learn what it takes to impress your colleagues and be a star candidate.

12. What behaviors do the people who struggle most on the team exhibit?

Follow question #9 with this question, and you’ll show the hiring manager that you’re really trying to get a concrete idea of what to do and what not to do as an employee on the specific team you’re applying to join, says Fernandez. And while this question can make a manager uncomfortable, it’s impressive because it shows that the candidate is not afraid to ask tough questions.

How It Helps You

First, you’ll get an idea of what poor performance looks like, which will help you set expectations for the position. Second, you’ll learn how the hiring manager handles a tough question like this — which can teach you something about how office politics are handled in general.

13. How do you deliver negative feedback?

If you would be working with the person interviewing you, this is another tough question that can give you some insight into how the team works. It pushes the hiring manager to think about how he or she would handle an uneasy situation, while at the same time showing your level of maturity in that that you (realistically) expect to receive tough feedback sometimes.

How It Helps You

Just like different people take negative feedback differently, different people give negative feedback differently. Does this person tailor their feedback approach depending on whom they’re giving feedback to? Do they make feedback a two-way street? Their feedback style — especially when it comes to negative feedback — will help you understand how well you would be able to work with them.

14. Do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications?

This question shows that you’re not afraid of critical feedback — in fact, you welcome it. Interviewers tend to make note of red flags — whether it be something on your resume or something you said — to discuss with a colleague following the interview. This question gives them the green light to ask about any of the things that are holding them back from being 100% on board with hiring you.

How It Helps You

You get a chance to address concerns face-to-face without being too confrontational. This could be the difference between an offer and a rejection — or maybe even a higher opening offer.

Before you meet the person you’d be working for, you’ll likely meet a member of HR via a phone screening. Although this initial phone call is a standard first step for most organizations today, it’s also an opportunity for HR to take notes on you as a candidate and relay those notes to the hiring manager.

Make a good impression on HR — it matters more than you think.

Here are some appropriate questions to ask at this initial stage of the recruitment process so you can put your best foot forward.

1. What do you like most about working here?

This question can be a breath of fresh air to HR reps who primarily answer questions about benefits (which are valuable questions, don’t misunderstand). Asking an HR employee what they like about the company tells them you care about the company’s culture and that you care about the opinion of someone whom you might not work with directly.

In other words, talking to people like people is always a good idea.

2. How has this position changed over time?

It’s easy to forget that someone might have once held the position you’re applying for — or, more importantly, that the role might have evolved since it came on your radar. Don’t be afraid to ask HR what this job looked like before you were interested in it. This can include what the responsibilities looked like, how many other people currently hold this position at the company, and even where HR thinks it’s going in the future.

Getting HR’s perspective on the history of your potential role can give you unbiased insight into your department, and let HR know that you’re interested in your future at the company — not just your present.

3. What does this team’s role hierarchy look like? How does this position fit into it?

This is another big-picture question that HR should be equipped and eager to answer for you. You might not want to bluntly ask “who would I report to?” It can show resistance or insecurity before you ever set foot in the role. But, it’s still something you might want to know.

Phrasing your question the way it’s phrased above is a professional gesture that can reveal who your boss would be and indicate to the company that you’re mature enough to put your role in context of your department (an admirable move).

4. What are the main things HR does to assist the department I would be working for?

Similar to the first question on this list, this question shows you know HR is more than just the company’s first line of defense during the recruitment process.

Take your phone screening as an opportunity to become acquainted with the human resources department and find out how you’d interact with them on a regular basis from your department. It’s a friendly question and one that shows your interest in how the whole company operates — not just your own team.

5. What are you most excited about in this company’s future?

Want to inject a little positivity into your phone call with HR? Ask them what has them pumped up right now. What motivates them to get up in the morning? Put yourself in HR’s shoes: Wouldn’t you love to answer this question, especially if you love the company you work for?

Asking the HR rep what they’re most excited about shows them that you, too, thrive on enthusiasm. It also brings the best out in your interviewer — a good headspace for HR to be in as they hand you off to the hiring manager.

6. What is something the company is still working on getting right?

As a flip-side to the seventh question above, also consider asking HR what they think the company’s greatest challenge is right now. While other candidates might be skittish around a business’s weaknesses, this question shows HR you’re willing to accept the current negatives and join them on righting the ship.

Note the phrasing of this question, too. By asking HR this question precisely this way, you put focus on the positive and show the company that you have natural optimism (a desired trait in future leaders, just so you know).

7. What should I expect to wear on my first day?

Dress code can be a touchy subject in interviews — you don’t want to reveal that you have deal-breakers so early into a hiring process. But, it is an important aspect of the job for many professionals. Sometimes business wear just isn’t your thing, but you still want to maximize your chances at getting a job offer.

If you want to get an idea of the company’s dress code without suggesting it’s a big deal to you, simply ask HR what you’re expected to wear on your first day. It’s a harmless question that gives you the information you need at the same time.

8. Is there anything about my application that makes you doubt my qualifications right now?

Cap off your phone screening with this confidence play. Asking HR what they’re skeptical about with respect to your application can show them you welcome feedback and you can take criticism. It also helps you better prepare for your next interview.

Want more interview tips? Find out what questions design candidates should be asked in interviews.

Interview Kit for Job Seekers

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