5 Unique Interview Questions to Ask Employers

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Stand out from other candidates and demonstrate you’ve done your research by asking these unique interview questions.

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When you’re preparing for an interview for your dream job, it can be nerve-wracking to imagine every possible question they could ask, let alone what you should ask at the end of the interview. But this portion of the interview is critical. It is your chance to shine. You’ll want to prepare questions that demonstrate your passion for the company and role that go beyond the typical questions like, “What's your favorite part about working here?”

When you ask unique questions, employers get a glimpse of your work ethic and personality. A unique question is based on deliberate and comprehensive research on the company, role, and team, as well as its role within the industry and its influence in the world. 

By asking the hiring manager these unique interview questions, you will stand out as a candidate and gain a better understanding of whether the job is a good fit. Let’s get started.

Why ask questions during an interview, and what should you ask? 

The rule of thumb during an interview is to consider asking questions as an essential part of the interview. It demonstrates that you’re curious about the role and how things work, beyond what was presented in the job description. 

Go a step further by asking unique questions based on the information you gathered through secondary research (website, social media presence, Glassdoor, press features, reports) or primary sources (informational interviews with current employees). 

You can ask questions about the company’s future, its influence in the industry, specific details about the role’s functions, team structure, and more.

Read more: 15 Insightful Questions to Ask a Hiring Manager During Your Next Interview

5 unique questions to ask potential employers

The following questions are examples of unique things you could ask a potential employer. Of course, all questions can be tailored to your specific industry or job application. 

Ask about the company’s long-term vision.

Example question: “Since its founding in [insert year here], the company has grown significantly and stands out among competitors [x] and [y]. What do you envision for [insert company] in the next 5 or 10 years?”

Like all the other questions on this list, you can reformulate this question depending on how long the company has been around, how well it’s doing now, and whether it has improved or declined in recent years. The interviewer’s response will give you an idea of how transparent they are, their plans for improvement or continued acceleration, and whether you’d be joining a rocketship or a sinking ship.

Potential follow-up questions:

  • What competitors are you most worried about?

  • What is the biggest challenge currently facing the company?

  • Based on [x] report (or [y] news), can you explain the company’s influence in the industry? 

Ask about the company’s culture.

Example question: "From my research, I found that the company seems to be big on communication and teamwork [or other values]. How do you go about maintaining those values with remote work? (OR) Can you describe an example of when communication shaped an important outcome?

This question, or something equally as thoughtful and relevant, will tell you about how the company treats its employees. You'll be better able to determine the company culture and if it strives to uphold its mission and values in an equitable manner. From the interviewer’s response, hopefully you’ll receive concrete examples, so you can determine whether the workplace is harmonious and a good fit for you.

Potential follow-up questions:

  • Can you tell me more about how the CEO enforces company values?

  • How do you ensure your workplace is diverse and inclusive? 

Ask about the role’s influence.

Example question: “I’ve seen roles like this in [another company] accomplish [great achievement]. How does this role compare?”

This question demonstrates that you’ve done your research on similar roles in other companies and are interested in understanding whether you’ll have an impact within the company or industry. You’ll seem curious and highly motivated to contribute value to the team. It might also give you insight into how much the hiring manager expects of the person in this role, such as the workload and benchmarks for success, as well as how open they are to ideas and innovation.

Potential follow-up questions:

  • What qualities are needed to succeed on this team and in the company?

  • How did the predecessor grow (personally and professionally) in this role?

Ask about collaboration.

Example question: “I noticed that your team worked on [activity, project, or initiative]. How did this team work together—what were the challenges?”

If you want to know more about a project and how the team collaborated to pull it off, this question will help you understand how the team operates. You may also gain insight into the team structures and how willing they are to collaborate across teams within the company. It addresses whether you’ll be working in silos, but goes beyond who works together to illuminate how success is evaluated, depending on whether individual contributions or teamwork is emphasized.

Potential follow-up questions:

  • What are some examples of projects the team (or this role) has worked on?

  • Can I see them?

Ask a job-specific question.

Example question: For a social media marketer role—“Social media has been instrumental to the transformation of marketing in recent years. I really admired the campaign that focused on using empathy to disrupt Western beauty standards. How do you think social media marketing will continue to evolve, and what other campaigns do you have in the pipeline?”

This question tells you what projects you could be working on when you start the job, to get you excited. It also demonstrates your passion for social media marketing, an adept understanding of its role in business, and that you’ve kept up with the company’s campaigns. It goes beyond “day-to-day” responsibilities to focus on what you can look forward to.

Potential follow-up questions:

  • What are important milestones you’d like to see this person achieve in the first few months?

  • What have people gone on to do after this position? 

Sharpen your interview skills with Coursera

Add excellent interview skills to your career toolkit by taking the Interview Research and Preparation course from the University of Maryland. You’ll be able to leverage your strengths, passions, and who you are as a person, so you can start doing work that matters to you and the world.

For additional guidance for your job search, take a look at: Job Search Guide: Resources for Your Next Career Move.

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