Opening some interview questions and answers web site, it's perfectly acceptable to expect on a job interview questions like:

  • Tell me 3 of your weaknesses
  • Why did you leave X after Y months?(what if the reasons are personal?)
  • Tell me about you education, did you finish on top of your class, etc. (what if you weren't the TOP 5 of the class?)

Or even some loaded questions, I've seen it myself:

  • You did solve the task, but it was too slow. What are the reasons for that?

What about asking on the interview:

  • Tell me 3 weaknesses of the company
  • Why are looking for a person for X months?
  • And what about your education(since a lot of interviewers are having unrelated background)?

I've never seen any suggestions to ask the company any inconvenient questions. Why is that? Aren't employee and employer equal in the interviewing?

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    Because are they looking to employ a smartass?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 11:23
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? What are specific ways to learn meaningful information about company culture in interviews? <--- because what you perceive as an inconvenience is merely their way to learn about you. Inconvenience here is only (undesired) side effect, but the real purpose of curveball questions is to learn about you
    – gnat
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 11:32
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    How is flipping interviewer's question considered as an approach on a job interview? - As posed in your question, it would probably be considered foolish and unprofessional. Ask genuine questions, not questions that you think are clever because you're trying to play some kind of game with the interviewer.
    – joeqwerty
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 17:41
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    -1: Question is unclear. What is your goal here? Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 1:41
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    Of course you ask interviewers inconvenient questions- especially as you become more senior and pickier. A few favorites of mine is to ask what ICs dislike about the company, to ask how political the company is, to figure out what isn't working there. I recently interviewed at a company that just merged- I asked point blank how certain they were the product wouldn't get discontinued. But the point is to gain information, not to just flip the tables. Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 3:10

4 Answers 4


Aren't employee and employer equal in the interviewing?

No (at least in the vast majority of circumstances). The employer is the one with multiple applicants for the one role they are trying to hire for, the applicant is not.

While I'd in general disagree with the "education" question for anyone beyond an entry-level hire, the others are perfectly reasonable questions.

  • "Tell me 3 of your weaknesses": this is to see if you have self-awareness of your own skills (and where you're not so skilled). Nobody is perfect, but people that think they are can be a real problem in a team.
  • "Why did you leave X after Y months?": why you're looking for a new role is a perfectly valid question, as it indicates a lot about your goals for the future. If the reasons are actually personal, you just say "personal reasons I'd rather not disclose".

On the flip side, your first two questions are reasonable if phrased in a professional manner. Your suggested phrasing which parrots the interviewer is frankly incredibly childish - I'd expect better from my 10 year old.

  • Asking the right people about issues they face within their team/company isn't a bad question - as well as letting you see if the people interviewing you understand the company, it lets you know if your skills are going to help them solve their goals.
  • Asking why they're having difficulty filling a role is also valid, if done sensitively.
  • But don't be an ass and start caring about what they did at school. It doesn't matter.
  • 2
    >The employer is the one with multiple applicants for the one role they are trying to hire for, the applicant is not. This is a pretty big assumption. Especially the way things currently are, employers are struggling to find talent, and there are lots of employers looking. The candidate likely does have other interviews.
    – dwjohnston
    Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 8:20
  • If you as an applicant aren't talking to multiple companies, you're doing it wrong. So yes, they are equal- interviewing is a two way street and you should both be evaluating each other for fit. Of course I agree with you about the questions themselves. Some of those can be asked well and give good results "What are the things you struggle with as an organization?" "What do you want someone in this role to grow into?". The education question is just snarky. Commented Jul 13, 2021 at 3:07
  • I don't want to know about the education, but I've met a "Data Science Architect" that never shared any of his background and was always eschewing any information about previous positions. Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 3:05

Ask the questions you need to ask to make a good decision

I've never seen any suggestions to ask the company any inconvenient questions.

Then you haven't looked at the right places. It's perfectly fine and ok to ask inconvenient and difficult question to the employer. However, there should be a good reason of why to ask them and it doesn't harm to ask them politely.

Tell me 3 weaknesses of the company

Ok to ask, but a much better version is "tell me the three things you like best and the three things you like least about working here". (This one is courtesy of Amar Bose)

Why are looking for a person for X months?

Not a great question since you typically don't know what X is, nor is it your business. Better: "what's your turnover rate, what do you think is the main reason for people leaving and is this an area of concern and/or action"?

And what about your education?

Why would you want to ask that ? What benefit can you possible gain an answer? This one just comes across as petty and immature.


Your first two questions are reasonable to ask. Remember an interview is a two-way street and you're finding out if the company and the roles is a good fit for you. The last question is irrelevant to anything and would just come across as rude; you're not interviewing the interviewer, why do you care about their educational background?

What would be a terrible idea is to answer a question to you like "Tell me 3 of your weaknesses" with "Why don't you tell me 3 weaknesses of the company". As mentioned by Solar Mike that would just come across as smartass-ery and suggest you're going to be a pain to work with.


Those are actually pretty bad interview questions and you will do well not to copy that approach. The reason its bad is that they look for weakness in a candidate. Presumably they will hire the candidate that demonstrates the least weakness. This is a great way to hire mediocre people / terrible people that know how to cover up their weaknesses. You actually want to ask questions that look for strength. Give the candidate lots of opportunities to demonstrate strength and hire those that demonstrate most strength. E.g. tell me about an achievement you are proud of. What does "good" look like in your current role. You should treat questions looking for weakness like these as a negative signal about the company.

So likewise when you ask questions about the company you want to give them opportunities to show their strengths. Reject companies that don't show strength. E.g. how do people progress (i.e. more pay more responsibility) at your company. Do you provide support for training / personal development. What are some big achievements of the team recently. You can frame problem questions positively too. E.g. what are the biggest challenges the team faces and what steps are you taking to address it

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