3 questions to ask at a job interview, from a career HR exec who's interviewed over 15,000 candidates


When preparing for a job interview, you might put a lot of thought into how you'll respond to standard interview questions like "Tell me about yourself" or "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" It also helps to come prepared with a few good questions of your own, since your interviewer is likely to give you an opportunity to ask about the company or the role you're applying for.

Asking the right questions shows that you're interested in the position and eager to learn more about how you can contribute, says Barry Drexler, a New York City-based interview coach who spent 30 years as a human resources officer, interviewing and hiring over 15,000 candidates for institutions like Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers.

"A lot of candidates will ask questions just because they think it sounds impressive, but interviewers can see right through this," he says.

The best questions to ask, Drexler says, are those based on and inspired by your conversation with your interviewer. To come up with those, it can help to bring paper with you and take notes as your interviewer speaks.

The first topic your interviewer mentions is probably the most important to them, so Drexler suggests you start there. Say they kick off the conversation by discussing an increase in new clients. When the interviewer asks if you have questions, inquire about these clients. This shows that you're listening and are genuinely curious about the company.

Here are a few other good questions to ask your interviewer if you want to stand out from other applicants and make a great impression.

1. How is performance evaluated?

Drexler says that asking your interviewer what a role requires isn't a great question. Chances are this information is already in the job description. It's smart to stay away from questions you can find the answer to yourself.

Instead, ask about how your performance would be evaluated. This demonstrates your interest in the role and will help you learn more about how you can add value to the company and do your job well.

Hack your next job interview to improve your odds of being hired

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Every company will have some kind of metric by which your performance is evaluated annually, or even every few months. Ask your interviewer whether your performance is evaluated numerically, by meeting certain sales or traffic goals, for example, or if it's measured quantitatively, meaning that you'll have to complete specific projects throughout the year.

Consider following up this question by asking how you can exceed these expectations.

2. How does this role contribute to the company's revenue growth?

Every role within a company will contribute to that company's revenue in some way. Asking a question about the organization's growth shows you're not only interested in the role but curious about how your role can affect the company and contribute to its overall success.

You might also want to touch on the kinds of performance targets you would be expected to meet in order to help the company reach its goals.

3. Why is this role available?

Hunting for a new job can be stressful and, while it can be tempting to jump at the chance to take a position you're offered, it's important to make sure that the position you accept is right for you. To find out, it can help to know why the previous employee left. Did they move up in the company or move on from it? Or was this position just created?

"If it's a new role, you'll have to be the one to set the tone for that role," says Drexler. "If you're replacing someone, then you would want to know why they left, and if they weren't performing, you want to know what they were doing well and what they were not doing well because you want to fill that gap."

The key to winning over your interviewer is asking questions based on your conversation rather than generic questions about the role or questions about facts you could find out yourself: "Never ask something that you should know the answer to. If it's on their website, don't ask it," says Drexler. "Only ask questions that you need a genuine answer for."

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