54

A Lifehacker article this week took on the final question in most interviews: "any questions for me?"

The conclusion of the article, and most other advice I have seen, is that "Yes!" is the only correct answer to this question, followed by one or more questions for more details about the company and how the candidate could start contributing right away.

Obviously if the person writing the article does interviews, and has this policy, then it is the case for at least one position. But I'm curious if people have found this to be the case in general, from either side of the interviewing table.

  • It might be worth mentioning the risk that if do not have any (or enough) questions for them, if they have a specific time-slot to fill before the next interviewer arrives, they may attempt to fill those last few minutes with more technical questions to kill time, which rarely is going to work in your favor as an interviewer. – Jessica Brown Aug 22 '12 at 23:36
  • Bear in mind that you don't have to have different questions for each interviewer, you can ask everyone the same question because they are unlikely to compare notes on that part of the interview. A good question to ask is something like "Why do you like working here?" as it isn't something you can research ahead of time; it has the added benefit that it makes sense to ask this of everyone you meet. – Perry Aug 29 '12 at 22:52

13 Answers 13

33

If you have questions, then by all means ask them. However, if you do not, either because the interviewer touched on everything you actually would have asked, then it's perfectly acceptable to tell them that. Do not just say "no, no questions", but instead tell them that they did a good job explaining everything, and that you should have all the information you needed. Bringing up one or two questions you would have asked as examples cannot hurt either.

  • 3
    What if you've done a fair amount of research on the company prior to even applying? Would it be acceptable to explain that you've already researched into them quite a bit and are satisfied that you're making the correct choice? Generally I've covered all my questions before getting to an interview. – animuson Aug 20 '12 at 4:50
  • 3
    @animuson In that case, ask them to verify some of the things you would have asked. If you want you can specify you saw the information in your research but you wanted to hear how it actually is (websites can be idealized) or make sure. Better may be to ask some follow-up that shows you not only researched, but that you were thinking of a detail or two you would like clarified. – PeterL Aug 20 '12 at 15:18
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    @animuson - the most impressive interview I ever did was with a candidate who'd clearly spent quite a bit of time researching the company and I knew it based on some earlier exchanges, but when I asked "Any other questions" at the end, he brought up that he saw on LinkedIn that I used to be a software developer and my new role (3 months at the time) was as Data/Report Manager, so he asked why I'd made the switch (and noted that the role was new to the company, so presumed it had been formed specifically for me, which it had). Just shows that there's always something you can still ask. – SqlRyan Aug 20 '12 at 21:09
  • "Do not just say 'no, no questions'"... whoops... – Mehrdad Aug 23 '12 at 3:28
  • I would at a minimum ask if the interviewer has any concerns, and confirm the follow-up or "next step" details at the end of the interview – user2813274 Aug 14 '14 at 17:50
53

As a hiring manager, I always ask that question (unless the candidate has been asking good questions all along) because the answers (the questions they ask) tell me a lot about the candidate.

If a candidate answers my "do you have any questions for me" question with the types of questions that Oded describes, e.g. what is the day to day work like, how are teams composed, what tools are supplied, etc, then I know a few things about that candidate such as the fact that they care about those things, that they paid attention and realized that I didn't explain it to them, and that they're willing to ask questions to get a sense of the whole picture before they make decisions (such as whether or not they fit).

If a candidate has no questions for me, that reflects badly on them in my estimation, because whether or not it is true, it appears to me as if they do not care about anything -- specifics about the company, the working environment, anything else I didn't cover, and so on.

Not all questions are good questions, though, and the manner of asking is also something that is evaluated. While this question in general is meant to ensure that the candidate does walk out of the interview having learned all they could possibly want to know about the position in order to determine their fit should a job be offered to them, it is also meant to discover what is important to people and how they ask for information. If all of your questions are about vacation time and work hour flexibility and not about the work itself, I might wonder (not always) if you are more interested in former rather than the latter. The list goes on.

How I use this question might not be the same as others (although I'm confident it's pretty similar), but I have never been in an interview in which it wasn't asked, nor have I conducted an interview in which I didn't ask it.

TL;DR: I would recommend you always have some questions in your back pocket when you interview.

  • 2
    I'm very inquisitive, so I ask the interviewer questions constantly throughout the whole interview. Unfortunately, that means that when the interview is over and they ask "Do you have any more questions for me," my answer is always "No" - I asked them all already! Does this still reflect poorly on me? – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Aug 17 '12 at 20:14
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft No, for me that wouldn't reflect poorly at all. Those are often the best interviews. I think the situation being described is the more typical Q & A from a script that tends to happen (for legal compliance reasons), where the last question is "do you have any questions" and the candidate didn't have a space (or desire) to ask along the way. – jcmeloni Aug 17 '12 at 20:21
  • I know a few things about that candidate such as the fact that they care about those things... Which is why recruiters are suggesting their candidates ask those questions. I always hate that question at the end of an interview because I generally get engaged in the interview process and ask questions as we go along. If it is a good interview I already have them answered. But I always have that canned "So what can you tell me about the projects you see me working on?" - I hate that question and would never hire anyone who used it on me but it works really really well. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 17 '12 at 20:38
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    @jcmeloni: Believe you should make clear in your answer, and not just the comments, that the best answer appears to be in fact be no -- but that's only true if the candidate was actively asking questions in context during the interview as part of the Q&A session. – blunders Aug 18 '12 at 1:11
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    @Chad I ask that question to everyone but a candidate who asked questions during the interview would probably get "do you have any more questions for us", and I'd readily accept "no, you've answered all my questions quite nicely already." – KutuluMike Aug 18 '12 at 1:48
18

As a freelance programmer, I am often on the receiving end of this question (which pretty much is always asked).

I have always felt that if I don't have any questions, this reflects poorly on me and my interest and enthusiasm for the job.

Additionally, having gone through several less than satisfactory contracts at different places, I have found that I do want to know more. Most of the time though the interviewer/s will outline the job and working environment, I find that quite a lot of stuff is left out, things that I want to know before I get myself into a contract with the company.

Things like the day to day of work, team composition and dynamics, the tools supplied are just some of the details that most interviewers will not go into unless asked.

The benefits of asking are obvious to me - I have a better grasp of the working environment and culture and the interviewer/s know that I am interested.

17

As an interviewer - I've at times hired people who said "no" - they were typically college students who clearly didn't know how to approach this one and didn't have the depth of experience to be all that emotionally involved. You could see it in their faces that they were still too new to have solid thoughts on what they would or wouldn't enjoy in a workplace.

I'd disagree with the posted article that "what is my opportunity to work at home?" is necesarily a bad question. Talking through such cultural work/life stuff is important. I do get worried, however, if all the questions are self-centered and none are about the team or the company and how the applicant can fit in.

When I go to the interview, I actually ask questions throughout the experience - I ask confirming questions after answering complicated questions about myself ("is that what you were looking for?"), I ask clarifying questions as they explain what the role and company are about so they know I'm interested, and engages, and so that I'm sure I'm clear on it all. And I ask some pretty serious follow up questions - I try not to go on interviews I'm not serious about... and so I'm really trying to see if these people will be good collegues and bosses.

When I'm not inspired to ask a question, I end up asking myself - "is that because I really don't care?" - if I can't get excited enough about the job to want to know something --- then this probably isn't the job for me.

  • 3
    What are your thoughts on an interviewee asking a question which turns out to be rather hard-hitting, or at least pinpointing a weakness in the work environment? My thought was that it shows I've analyzed the organization and am interested in working there, but I'm afraid I could have come off as seeming too critical. – Chan-Ho Suh Aug 18 '12 at 1:56
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    I think it's all in the context. If you've had a deep discussion and you raise a final point that is insightful and engaged but critical - then it's probably a win. If you walk in the door saying "I figured out what's wrong with you" without getting to know the people at all - you'll probably come off as judgmental. I can say I had an interview where after 15 minutes, I basically said - "if you want that job done, you need a re-org, you don't have the context to succeed at that" and they liked the push back. But it's a careful thing, to be sure. – bethlakshmi Aug 20 '12 at 13:46
11

As an interviewer, I am unimpressed if the interviewee has no questions. It generally indicates that he wants any job and not my particular job because he doesn't care enough to interview me or that he is not interested in what I have told him so far. The exception is that if he tells me he was planning to ask about XYZ and I covered everything.

However, it is far worse to have bad questions. If all of your questions are "What's in it for me?", I'm not going to hire you. I look for team players. I want people who want to know how we do business, what the corporate culture is like and what kinds of tools we use and what our processes are like. Benefits and salary should be covered when an offer is made not in the interview unless the interviewer brings them up first.

Working from home is an organizational culture issue as well as a benefit, so it is OK to ask about it, but not to come across as feeling entitled to a benefit no one else has if they say they don't allow work from home. Also, don't say you want to work from home because you have children to care for. I want you working when you work from home, not taking care of children. Remember, they don't know you can produce great work at this point, so don't give them any ideas that you might not.

Overtime can be another tricky one to ask about. For the most part, I would stay away from this until you are sure they are interested in you (a second interview or at the time of the offer) and if possible, I would ask people at your level not senior managers. If you have the chance to chat with the people you would be working with directly and casually ask roughly how many hours a week they put in, you are more likely to get an honest answer than if you ask the senior VP or the CEO who will often swear to you that they never require overtime. Ask casually about the hours they work, don't ask if you will get overtime pay (assume you won't unless they say differently but you can confirm this when you get the offer) and try not to indicate that you will be unwilling to do what it takes to get the job done.

On the other hand if you are unwilling to work overtime and are interviewing for a job that often requires it, it's best to bring it up during one of the interviews. You won't get as many offers, but you are likely to be happier with the ones you do get.

10

Always ask something like "why do you think this this a good place to work" or "why do you like working here". Most of the time, people have useful information to share that isn't the sort of thing HR talks about.

On one memorable occasion, I've actually had someone look at me, sigh, and tell me exactly why the company was really bad and I should run away, fast.

  • 4
    My favorite question to ask is, "How do you like your job?". It is short and open-ended. Even though the interviewers almost always answer with positives, the amount of detail and how they answer it can go a long way towards telling you how they really feel. – Joel Rondeau Aug 18 '12 at 16:34
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    I"ve done this too, because honestly, I want to know how and what people enjoy about the jobs and company they work for - in some sense, an interview is me asking "do I want to more seriously consider this company" just as much as it is them saying the same about me. – enderland Aug 18 '12 at 23:16
6

During the interview, it is very important to ask really good, pointed questions. It reflects well on you and if you really care about the quality of your work environment, you will listen carefully to the answers and evaluate them seriously.

However, at the end of a long session of interviewing where both parties have had plenty of opportunities to ask and answer questions for literally hours, it is really hard to be authentic when asked "Do you have any questions for me?" If you really did ask all the questions you needed to ask during the discussion, there is nothing more to say other than to go over what the next steps in the process are (if this hasn't already been covered in detail).

In other words, it is OK to say "no" if you've already asked all the questions you needed to ask. Forcing out a trite question just because you feel obligated to on the spot is awkward and will leave both parties with a bad feeling.

4

fine answers so far, but I'd add as a hiring manager...

Imagine the tables were turned. The company asked you in for the interview and said "we don't have any questions for you. What questions do you have?" Would you feel wanted? Do you really think 1-3 pages of a resume convey you completely and are okay with them making the decision based on that info alone? Companies ask questions of candidates because they care about finding the best they can. If you don't ask questions you are explicitly stating "I don't care where I work, I'm just looking for a job" If you get hired by a company, your peers will likely have the same attitude. If that appeals to you... by all means ask no questions.

As a hiring manager... ou don't need to ask me questions necessarily )I usually come at the end and you've already met 3-6 other team members). It is okay to have "no questions because everyone else already answered them" Since it is impossible to prove this and seems like a cop out when I hear it, I always like when candidates have a list of questions they WROTE DOWN (typed is better). Pull them out when the hiring manager asks you, and go down the list and say something like "your team did a great job of answering them all"

That said... the hiring manager will -always- have a different perspective, so please ask the same questions to them vs the interview team. You may get very different and illuminating responses.

2

Personally, I find this practice rather useless. Since I've learned about it, I make sure to ask some questions at the end like "who will I be interacting with?" or "what's the biggest problem you're currently facing?" or even simply "when should I expect to hear from you?". They're mildly helpful, but I don't really care.

At the end of the interview, I have a good idea if I want to work there or not; it just depends on the compensation. Most times, I figure I'm going to get the most sugar-coated view of things anyways. And in the end, my job is largely the same regardless of what industry it's in. The things that impact my happiness aren't going to come out in these questions because very, very few interviewers are going to give me honest answers about the things that suck.

As an interviewer myself, I've taken to always asking because it's expected. Again, by the time we've gotten to the end of the interview, I've made up my mind about the candidate. There are only 2 actual benefits for me at that point:

  1. I might be able to provide information to a candidate I want to hire so they're more inclined to accept.
  2. I hear more interesting questions I can use to feign interest in my own interviews later.
2

When I realize I really don't have any questions (happens occasionally), my solution to the problem is to basically reiterate my impression of the job the company and the things I find appealing about it or the kind of developer I think they want and then ask the interviewer if they think I have a decent grasp of what they're offering and/or what they're looking for.

2

As an interviewer, I always ask this question because I want (duh!) to give the candidate a chance to ask questions. Interviews are meant to be two ways affairs where you each ask questions to find out if you are a mutual fit. They are not just a hurdle for the candidate to clear.

As an interviewee, I always ask questions because...wait for it...I always have questions. I'm about to make a huge decision if I take the job and I want to make sure I have all the information I need to make it correctly.

To other interviewers, note that there might be a hundred reasons why the candidate does not have any questions so, IMO, it should not necessarily reflect badly on them. Top of my list is usually the fact that they may have already talked to five other interviewers already. If I'm the first person the candidate has talked with though, it might raise an eyebrow if they have no questions.

To other interviewees, if you really have no questions, a polite way to decline is to say "Thanks, but you already covered my questions already."

0

Having been both the interviewer and interviewee within the Information Technology field, I find that not asking questions as an interviewee is more of a failure on the part of the candidate than anything else.

Within my industry, not asking questions is a sheer sign of mediocrity, as, it's the basis of the position itself.

With that being said, it's helpful to mention that this can also be a double-edged sword for the interviewee. Refraining from asking questions in which it may sound as though you already are under the impression that you've obtained the position - Such as "What would my target salary for this position be?", "When would I start?", "When can I be expected to be contacted regarding an offer?". This may seem as though it's a no-brainer but I've had candidates ask me such.

Asking questions as an interviewee should always give the interviewer the impression that you're skilled, you know what avenues to take in a situation that you're uncomfortable in, and that you're marketable(which may cause the interviewer to make a faster decision if they're opinion is already weighing in your favor).

It's good to note that my interviewing process requires the candidate to ask questions more than most interviewing processes that I've been apart of. Again, referencing the Information Technology industry, I simply ask one question - one scenario that will give me all the information I need to say 'yay' or 'nay' on a candidate.

I give a scenario such as: "You're on a 2-lane highway driving through rural West Virginia in an older model Ford truck. All of your exterior lights suddenly stop working, what do you do? You may ask as many questions as you like about this incident."

This allows for me to put them in a situation where most technology oriented individuals are uncomfortable, and in a new setting with a new problem that they've never had to work through. But all of these are great for the industry, and are more often than not the situations we're placed in. This question alone allows for you to analyze the IT professionals analytical skills, attention to detail, and more importantly the avenues in which they take to solve an issue and present the answer and questions to the person asking.

-3

Going in to a interview it is important to ask questions that make people THINK. Don't ask generic bland questions ask pointed specific questions. If you can ask a great question that the interviewer can't answer your chances of getting the job go up dramatically.

One way to formulate this type of question is simple. Pick one of your favorite technologies and ask the interviewers if they have used a specific type of implementation in their solutions. Example ("Have you used the jQuery JqGrid to provide inline editing for Dynamics CRM applications?"). If they answer YES I get to agree that it's a great solution and give examples of what I did to implement and if they answer NO I get to tell them about a great option for future solutions.

Be bold, on the edge, opinionated all these cause you to stand out!

  • 1
    Be careful. This might be fine for a very junior position. For a more senior one, it's going to sound very odd unless it really fits into the conversation. Usually, people aren't interviewing you for specific knowledge of specific technologies. (Unless you're a contractor. That's a different world.) – James Moore Aug 19 '12 at 18:15

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