15 Best Questions to Ask an Interviewer

If you’re wondering about your job options — or questioning the choices you’ve made — you’re not alone. According to our latest study, almost one-third of America’s workforce is frustrated over their work situation.

We surveyed people who recently changed jobs as well as those who were considering a new job but decided to stay put. In both camps, that frustration was the same — about 30% across the board.

Only 40% of the people who changed jobs said they were happy with their choice. Of those who didn’t switch, a mere 25% were happy with that decision.

And on the flip side, twice as many people who changed jobs ended up feeling regret or guilt compared to those who didn’t — 15% vs 7% and 12% vs 6%, respectively.

With so many negative feelings on both sides, the numbers suggest that people aren’t getting the information they need to make the best choice for their situation.

Fortunately, your job search doesn’t have to be such a toss-up. Here are 15 interview questions to ask your hiring manager (or your HR rep today) to help you make your next job choice with confidence.

Common interview questions to ask in early rounds 

While you don’t want to dig too deep, too early in the job interview process, here’s a quick list of the best questions to ask early on.

1. What would a typical day look like for someone in this position?

Of the people we surveyed, 29% listed the desire for more job satisfaction as a motivating factor, but you’ll need more than a job description to figure out whether a new job would really be better than your old one.

Asking about a typical day can give you a feel for the company culture, the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, and how much your tasks might vary from day to day or week to week.

You might also want to ask your potential employer how much the job involves teamwork versus working individually. Some people are happiest with a lot of interaction. Others might prefer to work on their own for a larger part of the day.

Feel free to ask follow-up questions based on their answers. Your interviewer will appreciate the fact that you’re actively interested in the position, and the more you know about the job, the more confident you’ll feel when it’s time to make your decision.

2. How much leadership support is there for this role?

Another key factor in job satisfaction is how much internal support there is for what you’d be trying to accomplish in your new role.

If you’re being asked to improve operational efficiency, for example, how much room will you have to do that? Will you be able to implement sweeping changes, or will you be met with resistance at every step?

The truth is probably somewhere between those two extremes, but getting a feel for things like leadership enthusiasm, company values, and available budget will go a long way toward knowing how much space you’ll have to make a difference.

3. Is this a work-from-home, in-office, or hybrid position?

Of the people we surveyed, 26% included working from home as a motivating factor behind wanting to change jobs. For some, that might be a matter of convenience, but there are plenty of financial considerations to think about too.

Here’s how to calculate how much that commute could cost you.

Time costs

Our survey indicated that 37% of the people who want to change jobs are hoping for more free time. A long commute can eat up 10-15 hours of your week if not more.

There aren’t many other job changes that can save you so many hours without significantly cutting back on your pay.

Gas costs

Here’s a step-by-step formula to figure out how much a commute would cost each month in gasoline:

Google your commute route to get the actual milesMultiply that by 2 since you’ll drive both ways each dayThen multiply by the number of days you’ll commute each month — about 22 for a typical 5-day work weekWrite that number down as your miles per month — you’ll want it again for your maintenance costsDivide by your car’s miles per gallon to get your gallons per monthMultiply that by the current price of gas per gallon to get your monthly cost

Car maintenance costs

When you drive more, your car takes more wear and tear. There’s a cost attached to that. Multiply your miles per month, above, by an average of $0.10 per mile to estimate it.

Childcare costs

Do you save money on childcare or after-school programs when you work from home? Be sure to consider that cost in your monthly difference between commuting and not commuting.

Other incidental costs

By working from home, you might also save money on things like parking fees, your professional clothing budget, or even dry cleaning.

On the other hand, working from home might cost more in office supplies or computer equipment, depending on your needs. Ask whether there’s a reimbursement program for those expenses.

4. How does the company express its commitment to work-life balance?

According to our survey, some 38% of job switches are prompted at least partly by the desire for a better work-life balance. Because that can take a lot of forms, this open-ended question lets an interviewer address the issue in any way that’s most relevant to the company.

Some examples include:

Paid company-wide holidaysHigher-than-average vacation timeFlexible work hoursGenerous parental leaveTime off for community projectsCharitable matching funds

Good questions to ask an interviewer once a job offer is on the table

Any offers you receive will probably answer the top questions in the list below. Treat these final questions more like a checklist to make sure you have the information you need to weigh the pros and cons of a job change — financially, professionally, and personally.

5. What’s the salary?

Of the people who changed jobs in the last year, 42% said that earning more money factored into that decision, so let’s start there. When you get an offer, make sure the salary is in line with industry standards.

Research average salaries for your ideal position in your city and at your experience level. Don’t go in blind. And consider working with a recruiter to help you navigate those waters.

That said, your salary is only one part of any job’s long-term financial prospects. Add up all the financial consequences laid out in this list before you make any decisions.

6. How do any bonuses or other financial incentives work?

If there’s a company-wide bonus built into the pay structure, ask whether that bonus was paid out last year — and how many years out of the last five.

Also, make sure you understand what part of the bonus structure is based on your own performance versus company-wide goals, and how each of those is measured.

While you shouldn’t count on a bonus for your day-to-day needs, consider including some percentage of it to evaluate the job financially.

Pick a high percentage if the prospect of earning the bonus looks good, but consider a lower percentage if too many factors are beyond your control.

7. How often are raises given and how are they determined?

Be sure to ask about inflation-adjustment raise schedules and how those raises are calculated. Remember that raises based on the performance review process and raises that adjust for cost of living are two different things.

In times of high inflation, low cost-of-living adjustments could mean you’re actually losing financial ground year over year.

That said, the company might be making adjustments in other areas to make up the difference — such as changing the benefits structure or adding cash perks. It’s just another reason to consider all of the financial aspects of your decision.

8. How do any stock options work?

Many forward-thinking businesses include employees in the company’s financial success through various forms of equity participation. That’s true of both public and private companies.

Depending on the position you’re interviewing for, there’s a good chance your hiring manager won’t have the answers to these kinds of questions. Hopefully, they’ll bring along an HR representative who can help.

If they don’t, ask to meet with someone from the HR department who can walk you through how the system works.

9. Does the company have a 401k matching program? 

Make sure you understand the details of any 401k program well enough to compare the new plan against any plan you might have had before. Otherwise, you could be trading what looks like a better situation today for a worse one when it’s time to retire.

Pay special attention to the details of their matching program. Many people aren’t fully aware of how much “free” money they’ve been getting from their employer every month and how much those funds are adding up. Even a small difference now can make a huge difference to your retirement.

You’ll also want to schedule time with an HR representative or even your own personal financial advisor to talk about your options for your previous 401k if you decide to switch jobs:

Leaving your 401k funds from your old plan where they areRolling them over into the new 401k planRolling them into a personal IRA insteadWithdrawing them (not usually the best option due to penalties)

10. How do the healthcare benefits work? 

According to our survey, as many as 19% of job switches are motivated by the need for better benefits. One healthcare plan isn’t the same as the next, so make sure you understand the details.

Here are some key items to cover:

Are vision and dental included?What about prescriptions?What are the deductibles?Does the company cover deductibles or do you?How do individual deductibles work versus family deductibles?What are all of your out-of-pocket costs, including copays?Are there any exclusions that aren’t covered?Are your preferred providers in the network?If they aren’t, how does that change the coverage?

11. Are any other benefits included? 

Will you have access to a life insurance policy? Or maybe a spending account to use on gym memberships, personal fitness, or wellness programs? What about free lunches, snacks, or discounted products and services from corporate partners?

Different organizations can offer very different perks, and the savings can add up to more than you might think.

Make a list of all the perks you’re enjoying at your current job and be sure to explore everything that’s available at the new one. Add up the savings on both sides before you make any final decisions.

12. How does the company help with childcare?

If you’re interviewing for a new job during the school year, be sure to think about the summer months too. Is there a daycare program at the office or a monthly stipend? Will you be working from home so your older kids won’t need childcare?

Think about whether you’ll be gaining or losing childcare options, including any changes to your work schedule or your commute.

13. How well is the company doing?

There are a lot of ways to gauge this question. If you aren’t sure how to get at it, start by asking how often leadership reports to employees about the health of the company. Transparency is a good sign of healthy financials.

Then, do your own research into things like:

How long the company has been in businessAny history of leadership changes or layoffsRecent store openings or closingsNew products or expansions into new territoriesHow much equity the company has raised or how the stock is performing

14. Do you have a mentorship program?

Finally, move into evaluating your opportunities for personal growth and career development. Are new hires assigned a mentor? What structures does the company have in place to champion its workers and offer career advice?

Whether or not a company has a formal program, mentorship often varies wildly from one manager to the next. When you interview with your potential boss, feel them out as to how much they might be willing to help their direct reports grow in their own careers.

15. What professional development opportunities are there?

If you’re in a profession that has a well-defined track of career progression, ask what that career path looks like for this particular company. If you aren’t, you can get at the same information by asking about things like conferences and professional certificates.

Does the company offer opportunities to attend seminars or complete educational programs? Does it offer a set number of hours and a budget for career development activities? Or do you have to do them on your own time — and on your own dime?

At the very least, is the company open to adopting new technologies to improve efficiency, or is it set in its ways? The world of business is changing faster than ever. If you want to stay on the cutting edge of the latest developments, make sure you’ll be with an organization that’s dedicated to the same goal.

Interview tips

The list of questions above is a great start, but asking smart questions is only half the battle. Here are a few interview tips to impress your potential boss during the hiring process.

Don’t try to connect on LinkedIn until you’ve accepted a job offer. Until then, it’s more likely to feel pushy than friendly.Ask your hiring manager about their favorite part of their job. You’ll get some insight into their management style with a great question that’s sure to break the ice.Don’t be afraid to be enthusiastic as long as it’s genuine. If you’re interviewing for your dream job, say so. Just do your homework. Make sure you’re being realistic about the job and the work environment.Save your own job interview questions for the end of the interview. The best job candidates ask the right questions with the right timing.Put your best foot forward, but be yourself. Answer questions directly and honestly. Job applicants who sound like they’re hedging aren’t likely to get a second interview.It’s okay to ask about the interview process itself. Before the end of an interview, feel free to ask how many interview rounds there will be and who your next interview is with.

Final thoughts

If you’re hoping that a job change will improve your financial position, remember to weigh all the financial pros and cons, not just the salary. To make that easier, a personal finance app like Simplifi by Quicken can help you see all your savings and expenses at a glance.

See what you’ve been paying for gas, doctor visits, dental care, and more. Know what’s in your 401k and how it’s grown over time. See your monthly income and expenses, or run scenarios by modifying next month’s plan to see how a new job could change your financial picture.

For even more detailed, hands-on retirement planning, Quicken Premier for Windows lets you plug in dozens of details about your income and retirement to see how changes today could affect your finances in the future.

Last but not least, if you’d like to work for a great company that can answer every one of these questions and help you live your best life, we’re hiring.

– ​Small Business & Rentals – Quicken + Simplifi Blog

Read More