30 Career-Focused Questions to Ask in an Interview

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Having focused and professional interview questions can help you stand out to employers. Read on for 30 career-focused questions to help you land the role.

[Featured Image]:  A male wearing a white shirt with a gray tie interviewing a female wearing a gray top and black pants.

Asking your interviewer questions about the position and company you’re interested in is a great opportunity for you to get the most out of your interview experience. Prepare questions in advance so that you can:

  • Feel confident before and during the interview  

  • Signal your interest in a position 

  • Demonstrate your conscientious approach to job-seeking (and by extension, job performance)

  • Get the exact information you need to make a career decision

If you’re wondering what questions to ask in an interview, use our list of career-focused questions to empower yourself during the job-seeking process. 

30 questions to ask in an interview 

We’ve organized these questions into four categories so that you can cover as much ground as possible in your interview preparation and during the interview itself. 

Questions about the position 

Ask these questions to discover if the position you’re applying for matches your interests and the kinds of tasks and projects you want to complete:

1. Can you describe the ideal candidate, including their traits, interests, and skills? 

2. Can you elaborate on the hard and soft skills that would help someone in this position succeed?

3. What does the typical day and week look like for someone filling this position?

4. What is expected of someone in this role?

5. How do you measure performance in this role? 

6 What would you like to see me accomplish in my first three to six months in this role?

7. What kind of feedback and support would I receive? 

8. For an existing position: How has this position evolved over time? and What did the previous person in this position do to succeed?

9. For a new position: What were the reasons this position was created? and How do you see it evolving? 

10. Can you show me examples of projects I’d be working on?

Questions based on your career goals  

Ask these questions to discover how well the position you’re applying for aligns with what’s really important to you:

11. What opportunities are there for career development, including additional training, envisioning new projects, and taking on a leadership role?

12 How do you help your employees grow as professionals?

13. What types of employees tend to succeed here? 

14. What are some of the major things that employees learn while working here, besides how to perform their roles?

15. How might working here complement my strengths?

16. How might I be contributing to the company’s vision for growth?

Questions about the company’s values and culture  

Ask these questions to discover if this company you’re seeking employment with can foster your development:

17. Whom will I be reporting to, and will I be able to meet them today or in a follow-up interview?

18. How would you describe the team I’ll be working with? 

19. How does this team or department handle challenges or conflicts?

20. What does this team or department do to create rapport?

21. How will our team or department be collaborating with other departments?

22. How would you describe this company’s culture?

23. How does this company demonstrate its core values? 

24. What is it doing to fulfill its mission? 

25. How is the company navigating the competitive landscape?

26. How long do people typically stay with this company?

Ask these questions to gather important insights from your interviewer’s own employment experience: 

27. What do you love about working for this company?

28. What has been your proudest moment while working here?

29. How has your role changed since you’ve been working here?

30. What gets you most excited to come to work?

For more discussion, watch this video, "Five Questions to Ask at Every Interview," part of the Advanced Interviewing Course:

7 tips for prioritizing your interview questions 

Some of the questions in the prior section may strike you as the best questions to ask during your upcoming interview. If you need more ideas for prioritizing your questions, use the following tips: 

1. Review your interview research and other preparation notes.

After researching the company and connecting your professional history to the job description, review your notes to isolate your priority questions. That way, you’ll come to the interview well-informed about the company and the position, rather than asking about details you can easily find online. 

2. Select questions to satisfy your curiosity about the role.

While this may seem obvious, it’s vital that you get all the answers you need to make an empowered career decision. What concerns remain even after all of your research, preparation, and the interview process itself?  

Don’t be afraid to ask probing questions, such as “When employees leave, what have their reasons been?” and “What are some of this company’s diversity and inclusion efforts?” Answers to these questions can contribute to your overall impression of the company and the position you’re applying for.

3. Limit the number of questions about work-life balance and benefits. 

While it’s important to gather information about the perks of the position you’re applying for, questions like, “How soon can I get paid time off?” or “Will I be working long hours?” could suggest that you’re focused more on when you won’t be working than on learning more about the role. 

If having flexibility is a deal-breaker and central to your interest in the position, here are some diplomatic ways to phrase questions: 

  • What are the typical hours and volume of work?

  • Are there any times during the year that would make scheduling time off a challenge?

  • What does this company do to facilitate work-life balance? 

Interview tip: Wait until after you receive a job offer to ask detailed questions about job perks.

4. Refine and prepare up to 10 questions.

Once you’ve selected up to 10 questions to ask your interviewer, write down or type up several versions of each question. Ask a friend or family member for feedback before you settle on phrasing that is clear and open-ended, enabling the interviewer to provide the information you need.    

For in-person interviews, it’s usually acceptable to bring a notebook and pen, so that you can refer to your prepared questions and jot down answers. Be sure to check with your interviewer first, if you feel hesitant about bringing physical items with you.

Alternatively, you can memorize the crux of each question and ask them in words that come up naturally during the course of the interview. 

5. Ask no more than five questions.

Even though you’ll prepare up to 10 questions, let the course of the interview dictate which questions you’ll actually ask. That way, the conversation will be focused on priority topics without exceeding the allotted time for the interview. 

6. Be open to asking your questions throughout the interview.

While most interviewers will allow you to ask questions at the end of the interview, there may be opportunities to ask questions throughout, especially if one of your prepared questions is relevant to the topic at hand. 

Here’s an example of how you can work your question into the flow of the conversation: “Before we move on, I have a question about what we just talked about. Would it be okay to pause and go over it?” 

7. Invite your interviewer to ask the final wrap-up question 

This strategy allows you and the interviewer to cover all bases and conclude the interview with the information you both need. Here are examples of how you can frame the wrap-up: 

  • “Before we conclude, are there any hesitations on your end or areas I can clear up?”

  • “Is there anything else you’d like to ask about my suitability for this position?”

  • “Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?”

  • “What are the next steps of the recruitment process, and what other information do you need from me in those rounds?”

Prepare to ace your next interview

For more extensive interview preparation advice, check out the Advanced Interviewing Techniques course on Coursera, which covers tips on how to answer common questions, negotiate job offers, and perform successfully during your next interview.

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