10 Questions to Ask BEFORE the Job Interview

10 Questions to Ask Before the Job InterviewThere is a ton of advice out there about questions to ask during an interview… and rightly so; asking the right questions can put you way ahead of the job seeking pack.

That is not, however, the first chance you have to impress a potential employer. Other than your resume, cover letter and your LinkedIn profile, when is that chance?

When the company calls to schedule an interview!

The trouble is that when we get that call, we get very excited. So excited, in fact, we forget to ask for important information that can thoroughly impress the person on the other end of the phone, or email exchange. An impression that makes that person go back to the recruiter or hiring manager and say, “You’re going to like this one… she’s got it together!”

Next time you have the opportunity to schedule an internship or job interview, consider asking these 10 questions:

1. May I Ask a Few Questions About the Interview?

Depending on the answer, you’ll know if you can ask the rest of the questions, or if the person making the call is an administrative professional with no more information than your name, phone number and the interview time.

2. What Times are Available?

For many interviews, the person calling gives you a range of options on when you would like to schedule your interview. The best times are 10am, and during the early afternoon. Avoid these times…

  • 9am – the interviewer may not be fully awake and alert, and not remember you as well
  • 11am – the interviewer may be thinking about lunch, as much as listening to you
  • After 4:30pm – the interviewer may be tired from a long day, or thinking about going home soon

3. Can You Tell Me the Names of the People with Whom I’ll Be Interviewing?

Ask for the full names and job titles of the people whom you’ll be meeting. Get the exact spellings of the names if you’re not sure. Do research online on the interviewers beforehand. Knowing the background of the people you’ll meet is a critical advantage, and you might even have some common connections, like universities or hobbies.

4. Is This a Newly Created Position?

It’s good to know if the position is new, or someone else previously held the job. If it’s new, the interviewers may be expecting you to help them define the role. If it’s not new, try to do research on who had the job last and why they left.

Go to Linkedin, and search for people at the company. Look for one who had the same job title as what you’re interviewing for. Depending on their current employment or lack thereof, you can get an idea of your predecessors performance, skills and achievements.

5. How Long Has the Position Been Open?

It’s a bad sign if the position has been open for a long time. It usually means many candidates have been interviewed and rejected. The most common reason is the company isn’t attracting the candidates it wants with the compensation it’s willing to provide.

6. What are the Salary and Benefits?

Here’s a list of the most common responses and what they mean.

  • “The salary ranges between X and Y” is a good answer, because the company has an idea of what it wants to pay for senior and junior candidates.
  • “I don’t have that information”, might be a lie, and might not be, but you don’t lose anything for asking.
  • “It’s yet to be determined”, is a red flag. Salary estimators are free online, so this answer usually means the salary is low, and they don’t want to scare you off.

7. Should I Bring Anything in Addition to My Resume?

Nothing’s worse than a interviewer asking for a sample of your work when you don’t have any with you. Usually they’ll say no, but its great when they say “Yes, actually, you can bring a sample of your work” or something similar. Since it wasn’t in the job ad, you’ll be the only candidate with something that demonstrates your skill and talent.

8. Will There Be a Skills Test?

Increasingly employers are using standardized tests to determine if the candidate is worthy of being given an in-person interview. Find out what tests will be given, and study hard before you get there. Don’t let yourself be ambushed by a test you didn’t know was coming.

9. Is the Interview Scheduled to End at a Certain Time?

Be prepared for the two extremes. If the interview is only 45 minutes, be prepared to present yourself and make all your points in that given time. If there is no scheduled end time, take your time and don’t rush. The last thing you want to do is cut an interview short because you need to go back to your current job.

10. Are There Other Open Positions at the Company Like This One?

If there are, try to get information on them. Interviewing for two jobs gives you twice the chance of getting hired. If the position hasn’t been posted yet, you’ve gained a great advantage.

There are two more benefits that come from asking these 10 high-quality questions:

  1. They show the employer you’re taking this opportunity, and your career, seriously
  2. The answers you hear just may make the difference between a so-so performance… and one that leaves the recruiter with an amazing second impression!

Give these questions a try, and then let us know how you did in the comments below!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Doostang!



Founded in 2005 at Harvard, Stanford and MIT, Doostang was created with one goal in mind: to successfully advance ambitious young professionals in their careers. Doostang offers its members the opportunity to search thousands of high-quality, highly relevant job opportunities, and tools to leverage their inside connection to get hired. Follow Doostang on Twitter!



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