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What do you believe is the most important part of an interview? As an Ex-Director and Hiring Manager (turned Career Coach) I will always say that the most important part is the end… when the hiring team asks, “do you have any questions for us?” This opportunity is powerful because it gives you the opportunity to uncover red flags, get clarification, and decide if the position and company is truly right for you. If you’re like most, you aren’t sure what questions are important to ask. As someone who has aced 50+ interviews and coaches others to do the same, I’m going to share with you a list of unique interview questions to ask an employer. This list will showcase you as a good fit for your potential employer while showcasing your genuine interest in the company.
My goal for you is to walk into each interview with confidence and boldness. No, I don’t want you to be cocky, but I want you to enter the room knowing what you offer and how amazing you are. If you feel intimidated and nervous after the first 5 to 10 minutes of meeting with the hiring panel, this may be a signal that you are in the wrong environment. Let me explain, the interviewer’s job is to get to know you and sell you on the role. The hiring manager and panel should be on their best behavior and try to make you feel comfortable.
As you enter your next interview, I want you to shift your mindset from, “I need this job” to “They need me because I’m the best candidate.” Why? This mindset will allow you to ask unique interview questions with confidence and strategy. The questions that you ask should be based on your needs and “must-haves” for the role and company. Before conducting a job search, I recommend creating a wish list for your ideal employer. This list can include things like, the type of manager you want, your ideal work environment, perks, benefits, salary, level of flexibility, etc. Knowing what YOU NEED from a job will allow you to compile a list of unique, thoughtful, and intentional interview questions for the employer.
Yes, I’ve been a Director and Hiring Manager, but I’ve also been coaching professionals for the past 10+ years so I’ve seen a lot of patterns on “why people leave their jobs.” Many of these reasons can be prevented by asking the right questions. As a Coach, I like to encourage my clients (and you!) to focus on finding companies that offer a great culture, place a heavy emphasis on leadership, work-life balance, flexibility, and innovation. These characteristics have proven to be a main factor for professionals staying in their roles long-term. That is what these questions will help you uncover!
The list I crafted is not generic questions. Instead, this list of questions provides you with useful information to determine if the company is truly the right fit for you. It will help you learn about the company’s culture, team members, biggest challenges, and the company’s future. Having a better understanding of how you will fit in will help you picture a typical day in your new position.
Alright, now let’s dive into my list of unique interview questions to ask employer.
Question #1- If you could describe your work culture in one word, what would it be?
This question is the best way to gain a glimpse into the organization’s core values and atmosphere. The one-word response offers a quick snapshot, which will help you determine if the culture aligns with your own work style and preferences. Whether the word is “collaborative,” “innovative,” or “results-driven,” it sets the tone for what to expect, helping you assess your potential fit within the company.
Question #2- When employees are ready for a promotion, do they usually find it internally or externally?
This question helps dive into the company’s approach to career advancement, shedding light on whether the organization values and nurtures internal talent. A preference for internal promotions signifies a commitment to employee growth and development, fostering a sense of loyalty among the workforce. On the other hand, a higher reliance on external hires could suggest opportunities for career progression might be limited internally, which for some is fine, but I want you to consider the potential challenges of upward mobility within the organization.
Question #3- What is your management style or philosophy?
This is a great question because understanding how your potential manager leads is crucial for a successful professional relationship. This question invites employers to share insights into their leadership approach, whether it’s collaborative, hands-on, or empowering. It allows you to align your preferences with the management style of your potential boss, ensuring a harmonious working dynamic.
Question #4- What do you like the most about working here?
This unique interview question not only provides a positive note in the conversation but also offers a great way to gain valuable insights into the aspects of the workplace that current employees appreciate. By learning about the positive experiences, you can gain a deeper understanding of the company culture and potential perks, contributing to your decision-making process.
Question #5- If you could change one thing about this company, what would it be and why?
This interview question encourages transparency and reveals the interviewer’s perspective on areas for improvement. It also showcases your interest in understanding the company’s challenges and provides an opportunity for you to discuss how your skills and insights could contribute to addressing these issues, demonstrating a proactive and problem-solving mindset.
Question #6- What trait/characteristic do you feel is currently missing from your team?
This question helps to demonstrate your interest in the team dynamic and eagerness to contribute meaningfully. It prompts the interviewer to reflect on the current team composition and pinpoint any gaps or areas for improvement. Understanding what the team lacks, gives you a chance to tailor your responses to highlight how your skills and qualities align with the organization’s needs.
Question #7- How are disagreements typically handled here?
This is one of those good questions that will shed light on the work environment. Conflict resolution is an essential aspect of a healthy work environment. By asking this question, you signal your awareness of potential challenges and their commitment to fostering a positive workplace. The response offers insights into the company’s communication and conflict resolution strategies, allowing you to assess if the organization values open dialogue and collaborative problem-solving.
Question #8- If I have a new idea, how would you like me to approach you with it? Follow up: when is the last time you implemented a new idea?
This two-part question showcases your proactive mindset and interest in contributing to the organization’s growth. It not only clarifies the preferred communication channels for introducing new ideas but also invites the interviewer to share real-world examples of innovation within the company. This information provides you with a glimpse into the company’s receptiveness to fresh perspectives and your potential impact on organizational practices.
Question #9- How do you feel about hybrid/remote work?
Given the evolving landscape of work arrangements, this question addresses a crucial aspect of the modern workplace. It allows you to understand the organization’s stance on remote work and flexibility. The response provides insights into the company’s adaptability and willingness to embrace contemporary work trends, ultimately helping you evaluate if the work environment aligns with their lifestyle and preferences.
Question #10- What personality type do you get along/work with best?
This question not only reveals the interviewer’s preferences but also provides you with a great opportunity to highlight your personality traits. It fosters a more personal connection and allows you to picture how well your characteristics align with the expectations of the interviewer, contributing to a more nuanced understanding of the potential working relationship.
As the hiring panel answers these questions, pay attention to their body language and facial expressions. Your goal is to discover whether or not they are being genuine, excited to answer, or hesitant. I’ve asked questions in interviews where the interviewer was clearly uncomfortable and made up an answer just to “sell me” the role. Whenever I got a hint of this, I immediately determined that the role and company were not for me.
If for any reason, you encounter a hiring manager who gets offended or upset by any of your questions, you should recognize this as a huge red flag. As long as you are being respectful and genuine, there should be no reason that an interviewer would get upset with you. Remember, if they disrespect you or get upset with you during the hiring process, they will most likely do the same once you’re onboard. If you’re interested in learning about more red flags during interviews, check out this article, Top 5 Red Flags in Job Interview.
I just gave you 10 unique questions to ask employers at the end of an interview. Every time I work with professionals they always say, “Great! I can’t ask these, so can you give me the top 3 or 4 questions to ask an employer?”
Of course, I can, but again, these questions heavily depend on your needs and what you are looking for in your next role, but if I had to choose only 4 questions to ask an employer, I’d go with questions that focus on professional development, upward mobility, flexibility, and the culture. So here you go!
Top Question #1- Can you tell me more about how you support your employees’ professional goals and growth?
This question underscores your commitment to continuous learning and professional development. It invites the employer to elaborate on the company’s initiatives, mentorship programs, or training opportunities. Understanding the level of investment in employee growth provides insights into the organization’s commitment to nurturing talent and fostering a culture of ongoing improvement.
Top Question #2- Is there room for upward mobility in this role?
Inquiring about upward mobility shows your long-term commitment and ambition. It prompts the employer to discuss potential career paths within the organization, indicating whether the company values internal progression. This information is crucial for candidates seeking not just a job but a dynamic and fulfilling career with opportunities for advancement.
Top Question #3- Do you offer flexible schedules?
The nature of work is evolving, and flexibility is a key consideration for many professionals. This question addresses the work-life balance aspect and showcases your awareness of changing work dynamics. The response provides clarity on the company’s stance on flexible schedules, remote work, or other arrangements, which gives you the ability to determine if this arrangement suits your preferred lifestyle needs.
Top Question #4- What type of culture do you foster on your team? Is it different from the overall company culture?
This question delves into the nuances of the team dynamic, acknowledging that team culture can sometimes differ from the broader organizational culture. Understanding these distinctions allows you to predict and understand team dynamics, communication styles, and collaboration expectations, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of the workplace.
You’ll notice that the unique questions to ask in an interview that I’ve shared are all open-ended. You want to avoid asking yes/no questions. You want to give everyone in the room the opportunity to explain themselves and their answers. Remember to not interrupt and just listen.
How do you contribute to the culture of your team (or organization)?
This question places the focus on the interviewer’s role in shaping the team or organizational culture. It demonstrates your interest in leadership style and the impact the interviewer has on fostering a positive and collaborative work environment. This is a great question for new hires. The response provides insights into the leadership’s commitment to cultural values and how they actively contribute to creating a supportive and inclusive atmosphere.
What type of changes have you implemented since joining? What are you most proud of?
This question can shed light on your future manager’s impact on the organization and highlight their leadership achievements. It allows you to understand the individual’s vision and initiative in driving positive changes. Learning about the changes and what the interviewer takes pride in offers a glimpse into the company’s adaptability and the leadership’s ability to innovate and bring about positive transformations.
What personality characteristic/trait do you feel is missing from your team?
This question helps you learn more about the team dynamics and the interviewer’s perception of the team’s composition. It encourages the interviewer to identify areas for improvement and express their expectations for a well-rounded team. You can then determine how your traits align with the perceived needs, showcasing their potential contribution to enhancing the team’s overall effectiveness.
What do you prioritize when looking for a new member to join your team? Personality or experience?
This question navigates the balance between soft skills and experience, reflecting your understanding of the multifaceted nature of a successful team member. The response provides insights into the interviewer’s priorities, whether they value cultural fit and interpersonal skills or place more emphasis on technical expertise. This is great for you because you can tailor your responses to highlight the qualities that align with the interviewer’s preferences.
If you could improve one thing about current operations, what would it be?
Similar to the question directed at candidates, this inquiry focuses on the interviewer’s perspective on areas for improvement. The response provides valuable insights into the organization’s self-awareness and its commitment to continuous improvement.
How do you encourage work/life balance with your staff?
This question underscores your recognition of the importance of work/life balance in maintaining a healthy and productive workforce. The response that the hiring panel provides can shed light on the employer’s approach to employee well-being, indicating whether the organization values a sustainable work environment. Understanding the strategies in place to support work/life balance allows you to understand the employer’s commitment to fostering a positive and healthy workplace culture.
Again, you’ll notice that these unique interview questions to ask an employer are open-ended, require thoughtful answers, and can shed light on your future manager’s leadership style and how they view and interact with their team. During the interview process, it’s important to be able to meet your future manager and build a relationship with them. This list of best questions and tips will help demonstrate that you are a team player and ready to move on to the next steps. After you interview, if you’re curious about whether or not you’re a top candidate, check out this article, Top 13 Signs you will Get the Job.
I should also mention, if you are interested in learning more about what questions employers usually ask, check out this article, How to Answer the 7 Most Common Interview Questions.
The truth is, you can be the most qualified, skilled, and incredible at your job, but if you don’t have a great relationship with your boss, your workplace experience can suffer. The interview process allows you to understand your prospective employer. Your manager is going to be your greatest advocate, cheerleader, and opportunity creator. You should be able to be comfortable with talking to them about your goals, challenges, and struggles. If you find that during the interview, you feel intimidated, disrespected, or just “put off” in general by your future manager, you need to seriously reconsider if this is truly the right move for you.
As a Coach, my goal for you is to find an environment that you love! One where you are respected, considered, and provided with opportunities to reach your career goals. The interview process is a two-way street and is your opportunity to uncover whether or not the role, company, and manager will provide you with a great experience. Take your time, trust the process, and most importantly TRUST YOURSELF as you navigate this process.
Cheers to your success and good luck as you go to interviews in pursuit of your next opportunity. Walk in feeling empowered and knowing how amazing you truly are. You got this, friend!