Asking questions

Employers are impressed by a demonstrable commitment to self-development. Asking about development opportunities is therefore a good interview tactic. You will demonstrate your capacity to stretch yourself, learn from your experiences, and enhance your skills. And you will also get a useful idea about the company's attitude towards staff development.

It is essential that you prepare questions in advance of the interview. Think about what you really want to know as it presents a great opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, skills and enthusiasm for the job. Some questions may even come to mind while you're at the interview.

Questions should ideally reflect your knowledge both of the position and the organisation. Do not ask questions if the answer to them can be found on the organisation's website. Do, however, ask more probing questions based on your knowledge of what you have read on the website.

Questions you ask could relate to:

  • the strategic direction of the company
  • the potential for you to be involved in key projects
  • changes occurring in the organisation/industry
  • the team you'll be working with
  • opportunities for development.

Informational Interviewing

The following are some example questions you may consider asking someone in a role that interests you


  • What is your background (both academic and experience)?
  • How did your background lead you to this position?
  • How did you become interested in this type of work and how did you get your present job?
  • How long have you worked in this field?
  • What is the most challenging/rewarding aspect of your work/career?
  • How would you describe your day-to-day responsibilities?
  • What skills and knowledge are most critical in this organisation?
  • What personal characteristics do you feel contribute most to success in this department?
  • What is a typical day like?

Questions to ask at an interview


Job characteristics

  • What are the duties/functions/responsibilities of this job role?
  • What projects have you worked on that have been particularly interesting?

Department trends

  • What are the future challenges facing the department?
  • What priority projects or services have been identified?
  • Where do you see growth or change occurring in the organisation?

Job roles overview


  • What attributes do you feel contribute most to success in this department?
  • What do you see the opportunities for growth and development?

Structure & culture

  • With which other departments, functional units, or levels of the hierarchy do you regularly interact?
  • Where does this team fit into the organisational structure?

Success factors

  • What does it take, in your view, to succeed in this field, department, division, role?
  • What specific functional or technical knowledge is critical to this work?

Career path & occupational outlook

  • What are typical career paths in this field?
  • What experiences, paid or unpaid, would you encourage for anybody pursuing a career in this field?
  • How do you see jobs in this field changing in the future?