5 Unique Interview Questions to Ask Employers

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

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

[Featured Image] A woman sits at a cafe preparing unique interview questions to ask her potential employer.

To get ready to interview for your dream job, you'll spend time reviewing questions the interviewer might ask you and developing your responses. But another essential aspect of your preparation is to plan what you should ask at the end of the interview. This is your chance to shine. You’ll want to prepare questions that demonstrate your passion for the company and the role, questions that go beyond the typical ones like, “What's your favourite 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.

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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. 

1. What do you envision for this company in the next five or 10 years?

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 five or 10 years?”

Like all the other questions on this list, you can reformulate this one 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. It’s a great way to ask about the company’s long-term vision. 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 rocket ship 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?

2. How do you go about maintaining your values with remote work?

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 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 fairly. 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?

3. What distinguishes this role from others in the industry?

Ask about the role’s influence.

Example question: “I’ve seen roles like this in [another company] accomplish [great achievement]. What distinguishes this role from others in the industry?”

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?

4. How did this team work together—what were the challenges?

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?

5. How do you anticipate innovation in the future, and what other initiatives do you have in the pipeline?

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 anticipate innovation in the future, and what other initiatives do you have in the pipeline?”

This job-specific question tells you what projects you could be working on once you start the job. It also demonstrates your passion for the position, an adept understanding of its role in business, and that you’ve kept up with the company’s events. 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?

Why should you ask questions during an interview?

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 (websites, social media presence, press features, reports) or primary sources (informational interviews with current employees).

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 on Coursera. 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.

For additional guidance on your job search, check out Coursera’s Job Search Guide: Resources for Your Next Career Move.

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