So I've noticed there are two types of interviews. One is the kind where the interviewer has questions for you and I've polished answers for that.

But where I persistently fail is the kind of interview that feels to me like it's structured more like I imagine the first day, where information is given to you and then you are asked if you have any questions. The first one I had was for a receptionist for a vet and I had two such interviews today.

I'm looking for an admin job and am pretty open as to where it goes. What kind of questions should I be asking to impress?

  • 1
    If their only question for you is what are your questions for them, that's a flag. I'd be more inclined to be wanting to ask questions to find out what color that flag is. This is similar enough to dwizum's excellent answer I'm not throwing my hat in that ring. But just to be explicit, do you really want to work for someone who doesn't know what questions to ask in an interview? The answer might be yes, but you should be asking questions to find that out.
    – Ed Grimm
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 1:17
  • Location depends. I have found the former method to prevail in USA & Britain, while the latter is the norm for Europe & Asia (YKmMV)
    – Mawg
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 8:05

1 Answer 1


You asked,

What kind of questions should I be asking to impress?

I think a better way to think of this opportunity is,

What kind of questions should I ask in order to make sure I'm entering into an employment arrangement that will be mutually beneficial?

In other words, think of the interview as a two way street. The employer wants to evaluate your fitness for the job, but you should also be evaluating the employer in terms of your own preferences, motivations, and desired work culture. So - rather than trying to ask questions that will sound impressive, spend some time thinking about what's important to you, and then ask questions about that.

If you're interested in growing a certain skill, or you find certain types of work the most rewarding, ask questions about those factors. If you're interested in advancement, ask about their policies around internal promotions. You mentioned interviewing at a vet - maybe you want to ask clarifications around the time you'll spend interacting with the public/animals entering the clinic, vs "back room" admin work - if that's important to you.

It's also good to ask clarifying questions about what you'll be doing in the day to day functions for the job, if that wasn't obvious from the job description. And, as most people are looking for some degree of long term relationship, it's reasonable to want to know about the company's future - how are they growing or changing over time?

The bottom line is, the employer is asking you questions to determine if they want to hire you. They have thought about what kind of candidate they want, and they're trying to determine if you're that person. You should take the same approach - think about what's important to you in a workplace and a job, and ask questions about those things.

  • Thanks, truth be told I'm very visual/kinesthetic so I tend to have more questions when I've gotten my hands dirty.
    – Sam Lee
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 19:54
  • 1
    @SamLee then think about workplace you've had in the past - what went well there for you and why, what went poorly for you and why. Figure out what kind of questions you could ask to find out about that stuff.
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 21:40
  • It also may be appropriate to ask about your learning style - or ask what sort of training/etc they have. Someone who can express "I perform best with X environment" will be showing that they're self aware, and will also be giving both parties the chance to evaluate. If they're happy to train you on the job (allow you to be a visual learner) versus just expecting to hand you a book and let you figure it out, asking about learning style and training will make it clear whether it's a good fit or not.
    – dwizum
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 13:21
  • Also, remember, the objective shouldn't be to just get a job, it should be to get the right job, so sometimes, a rejection is the best result (if the job would have been a poor fit).
    – dwizum
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 13:22
  • I'm not 100% sure what my "right job" is yet, my current contract ends next month and I'm fortunate that I have permission to take leave for interviews. I learned of Stack exchange from my other half, who's in software, I currently work as a receptionist with an interest in admin.
    – Sam Lee
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 7:13

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