Most job seekers ask the same generic questions in their interviews. And they’re missing a big opportunity to impress the employer. As a former recruiter, I’m going to share 38 unique and creative questions that most other candidates aren’t asking so you can impress the employer and land the position. Keep reading for 38 unique, “killer” interview questions to ask an employer.
Best Tips for Asking Unique Questions During a Job Interview
Asking unique questions is great in a job interview, but you should avoid some common mistakes. Follow these tips:
Prepare in Advance Before your interview, brainstorm a list of questions that will help you learn more about the position, your future coworkers, and the company. Your interviewer will probably discuss the role at length. You may learn the answers to some of your questions during your discussion.
Ask Open-Ended Questions. Open-ended questions can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. When you ask open-ended questions, your interviewer can add details to their answer, which will help you learn more. You can use their response to follow up with additional questions, giving the conversation a natural flow.
Focus on the Job. Keep a laser focus on the job and the company. You’ll want to demonstrate your genuine interest in the position, and there’s no better way to do so than by asking questions relevant to the role. Follow up on any items that weren’t completely clear during the interview.
Ask Questions About Salary and Benefits. There’s no reason to discuss the company’s salary or benefits plan in an initial interview. Your purpose is to learn about the position, the hiring manager, and the organization, which will help you decide whether the job suits you. Save conversations about compensation until they offer you the role.
Ask Irrelevant Questions. Avoid asking questions about issues that don’t pertain to the position. For instance, you don’t want to bring up parking or nearby restaurants that serve lunch. Stick to inquiries that directly relate to the role or the organization.
Ask Questions That Could Be Answered by Doing Basic Research About the Company. Don’t waste the interviewer’s time by asking questions you can find in a simple Google search, such as how long the company has been in business or where their other office locations are. Instead, ask questions that allow you to learn more about the position.
Watch: Unique Questions to Ask Employers
1. What’s one thing you’re hoping a new person can bring to the role?
This is a creative, interesting question to ask employers, and as a former recruiter, I recommend it for a few reasons. First, this question shows that you’re focused on coming into this company’s role and helping them immediately. And it also shows that you’re looking to come in and bring a new spark or new ideas, rather than just copying what everyone else is doing. Asking this question will quickly show the hiring manager or recruiter that you’re smart, proactive, and different than the other candidates they’ve seen.
2. What do the most successful people here do differently than everyone else?
This shows the hiring manager that you’re thoughtful, different, and genuinely interested in being a top performer in this job. This will make them excited to hire you and will help differentiate you from other job seekers. This question shows them that you’re focused on coming in and being successful… before they’ve even offered you the job, which will help you get hired.
3. What does it take to be successful here?
This is similar to the question above in that it shows the employer that you’re focused on finding success in their role. It demonstrates that you’re not just trying to find a paycheck and be an average performer; you’re aiming to be the best in your career. Hiring managers and other interviewers will love seeing these traits. It’s relatively easy for employers to find someone with the basic skills to do a job, and they can determine that on your resume, but in the job interview, they’re looking for more. And ideally, they would like to find someone who is coming in with a positive attitude and thinking ahead about how to be successful for the company; someone who’s going to be working hard from day one. So, asking this question in your interview is going to make the hiring team a lot less worried about you failing in the role, taking a long time to get “up to speed,” etc. And those are some of the biggest concerns that employers typically have about new employees.
4. What about my resume caught your attention for this position?
This is one of the more unique questions to ask the interviewer, and it will reveal what pieces of your background caught their attention. Then, you can make sure to discuss those pieces when answering questions in the interview. By understanding what grabbed the employer’s attention in your background, you can hone in on those topics in the interview, share further info and examples of past success, or ask further questions like, “Is there anything else you want to know on this particular topic?” which invites them to continue discussing the topic and ask for more info about your background.
5. What are the top skills and traits you’re targeting for this position?
This is another excellent, unique question to ask the interviewer, and most employers don’t hear this often… if at all. This question focuses on their interview process and what they’re thinking behind the scenes. It’s a thoughtful, interesting question, and it’s bold, too! It takes guts to ask this, so it’ll grab the hiring manager’s attention AND make them think a bit to give you a thoughtful response.
Any time you can ask a question that makes the employer stop and think before they answer, it’s a good thing!
6. What would success look like in the first 90 days?
This follows the pattern of a couple of the questions above – it shows them that you’re focused on success in the role and already thinking ahead about how to be a big success for them! That’s going to get them excited about you as a candidate because it shows them that you care about helping their company, not just getting paid.
7. How long has the job been open and where are you currently in the hiring process?
This is one of my favorite questions for an interviewer because it will provide you with valuable information about the hiring process and situation “behind the scenes.” This can help you know what to expect as the process continues, and it’s also an original question that most candidates aren’t asking, so you’ll stand out in the interview.
8. What are some traits that would make someone not a good fit for this role?
Most hiring managers don’t get asked this (which is a good thing – for you!) Ask this question to show them that you’re careful and thoughtful in your job hunt (which is the opposite of desperate) – and that you’re looking for the right fit, not the first job offered to you. This is how to position yourself as a top-tier job candidate.
9. Why did you say “yes” when the position you hold now was offered to you?
It’s nice to ask at least one question to learn about the interviewer and their personal experience at the company. Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so most interviewers will be happy to share their experiences here. Also, since this is an opinion-based question, you can ask the same question to multiple people in the company. If you meet with three employees from a company, you can ask all three about this topic without looking bad in the interview. You should go into each interview with at least one opinion-based question like this, so you know you won’t run out of things to ask (in case you meet more people than expected). And always make sure it’s a creative question like the one above so you stand out.
10. What’s the most challenging aspect of the role?
This question shows employers that you’re realistic and ready for a challenge and that you realize it’s not going to be comfortable at the beginning. It’s also a relatively uncommon question that most job seekers don’t ask the interviewer, so you’ll get bonus points for being different. You could follow this question up by asking how the interviewer recommends overcoming the challenge to succeed in this position, too. That will impress them even more.
11. How would you describe your management style?
Ask this question to your potential next boss (not HR or a recruiter) to find out whether you’ll enjoy working in this type of environment and under this type of management style. It’s a thoughtful question that the typical company doesn’t hear often, and it’ll make the employer think before answering. That’s always a good thing, especially since hiring managers are typically asked the same generic questions in the interview and don’t have to think much about answering.
12. What are your biggest concerns about the department/team right now?
This is another question to ask the hiring manager in a job interview (not HR). It’ll force them to think and be honest about the downsides of the job and company. You don’t want to accept a job without knowing what you’re getting into, right?
13. What are you hoping I’d accomplish in the first year here?
You may not know where you see yourself in five years, but an employer at least wants to see that you’re planning to stay with the company for a year or more. So consider asking a question about what the employer hopes you’d do in the first year with them, and then what the second year would look like (including potential promotions, additional responsibilities, etc.) The best companies I’ve worked for have been transparent and open about potential career tracks, long-term progression, and professional development opportunities after you join their organization. So this question will help you know how this employer treats their employees beyond the initial training period and into future years.
14. How often do you promote people internally?
The first recruiting agency I joined ONLY promoted people from within the company. That meant that if you wanted to be a Manager, you HAD to start as an entry-level Recruiter. Everyone began this way. This gave me fantastic opportunities as an entry-level job seeker myself (and I did end up getting promoted to Project Manager eventually). So this is something I like to see in an organization and something you should ask questions to find out about. Most companies won’t only promote from within, but you should look for some balance at least.
You can also follow this up by asking the interviewer, “How would you describe the company’s internal promotion process? What does an employee do if they’d like to apply for a higher role in the company, and how are employees able to hear about these internal opportunities?”
15. How do performance reviews work here?
Don’t take a job without knowing what your performance review process will look like. It’s important to know how often reviews (and pay raises) are given, who decides whether your performance is satisfactory, which specific aspects of your work are graded, and more.
This is one of the most important questions to ask before accepting a job.
16. What have people gone on to do in the company after holding this position?
This is important to know for your future career growth, and asking this also shows the interviewer that you’re goal-oriented and motivated. That will help you get more job offers. Every company likes to see this in their candidates.
17. What has been your best experience working here?
This is another personality-based question, which means you can ask multiple people in your job interview. It’s also unique and engaging and could spark a great conversation. Then, you can build more rapport and get to know the interviewer (always a good thing!)
18. What’s the first problem or challenge the person you hire will need to tackle?
This question shows that you’re coming in focused and ready to contribute from day one. It also shows that you’re making sure to look for a position that you’re well-equipped to handle. So you’ll build trust with the company, and show them that you’re a motivated candidate. That’s a win-win. Plus, you’re going to discover the company’s biggest “pain point” in the interview so you can speak more about that topic and further demonstrate that you’re ready to solve their problem.
Or if you feel you already discussed the topic, you could say:
“That’s great to hear since I’ve done similar work at my past company and helped them solve this exact type of problem. I know we touched on that past work in this interview already, but is there anything else I can provide in terms of information on the topic? I’m happy to share more if so.”
19. Does your company have any advantages over your competitors in the market?
Asking this in your job interview will show that you’re a big-picture thinker and someone who is naturally curious and interested in the overall business. While most candidates are just asking about the role and day-to-day work (which you should, too, by the way), you’re ALSO asking about something bigger/broader, to show that you’re able to see the bigger picture and think at a higher level. That’s a trait every hiring manager would like to see in a candidate
20. Have other people failed in this position, and why?
In your job search, it’s a good idea to ask whether people have struggled in a role you’re considering. The company’s answer can give you valuable information about how to succeed if hired, but can also warn about a position with some potential red flags. For example, if a company says that each person they’ve hired failed to learn the required skills, you’d be smart to ask the interviewer about the training process and how much time each person was given to learn the role.
Your goal in an interview is to impress the hiring manager, but it’s also important to gather info about the role and protect yourself from taking any bad jobs that will set you back in your career.
So an employer’s answer to this question will provide you with valuable info to help with that. And since this is a question that most job seekers aren’t asking, you’ll set yourself apart and gain some bonus points for asking something different and creative in the interview.
21. How fast is the company growing?
This is another question that shows you’re a big-picture thinker, and that you like to be aware of what’s going on not just in your role and group, but also in the broader organization. It also shows that you’re looking for a long-term move for your career, not just a place to stay for a few months and work. If you’re interviewing for a full-time, permanent position (not contract, etc.) employers always want to see signs that you’re planning on staying a long time in this new position. This is because employers have to put a lot of time, energy, and resources into hiring someone for a role. So ask this question in every job interview to show you’re looking for a long-term career move, not just a new position that you can pay some bills with.
22. Who are your top competitors and why do people choose to work for you over them?
This is very similar to the question above – it shows a general interest in their company, industry, and how they fit with their competitors.
One note: You should have more questions about the actual job… what you’ll be working on, the challenges of the position itself, etc. Don’t only prepare questions about the company overall. This could be a potential red flag – and make them worry that you like their company but aren’t passionate about working in this individual role.
23. After I master the basics here, what opportunities are provided for continued learning and career growth?
Asking about professional development and long-term career outlook in a role is yet another way to show that you’re goal-oriented while finding out valuable info to help you decide whether to accept or decline the job offer if it gets to that point! Always ask at least one question about how the company will help you grow long-term. This is a killer interview question to ask the employer because they’ll see that you’re planning on staying with the company for a long time and planning on being highly successful in the role. This also shows a lot of confidence in the interview, which is always good.
24. What soft skills are most important in this role?
You can typically figure out what hard skills are required by looking at a job description, but it may be tougher to know what type of soft skills an employer wants. So I recommend asking them about this topic in the interview. Or, if it’s already mentioned in the job description, you can ask a question like: “I saw the job description lists a couple of soft skills that are needed for the position, like multitasking and excellent communication. I’m confident about my abilities in those areas, but can you share how those would be used in the position and how strength in those areas would help me perform well?”
25. Do your team members/employees get together outside of work hours?
This is an interesting question that will help you know how close the team is and whether they get together after work. If this type of thing doesn’t matter to you when selecting a position, then you don’t need to ask about it. But I like work environments where people get along and occasionally meet outside of work, so if you’re the same as me and want to find out about this, then it’s a great, creative question to ask.
26. What are your company values, and how do they impact the work here?
Many candidates will ask employers about the role and the company in general. For example, they’ll ask, “What will the typical day here look like?” That’s not a particularly creative or unique question to ask the interviewer, though. They’ve heard it over and over. And they’ve also heard generic questions about the company culture. So that’s why you’ll benefit from this unique question, which is a bit more creative and combines the two topics. With this question, you’re asking about their values and exactly how they impact the daily work environment. This will make the interviewer think a bit and impress them, plus it’ll provide you valuable info in your job search as you try to find a role and company that you’ll enjoy. One word of caution here, though: Don’t ask the employer any questions that can be answered on their company website. So, for example, if the employer’s top values are listed on their website “About” page, you could rephrase the question and say:
“I saw on your website that some of your core values include integrity, openness, and community involvement. Can you describe how that translates into the everyday work here, and my role?”
That’s an example of a fantastic, creative question to ask an interviewer that shows a high level of thought, effort, and research.
27. What Does a Typical Day or Week Look Like in This Role?
With this question, you’re asking the interviewer to explain the primary duties and tasks you’ll encounter if they hire you for the role. Their answer should go beyond the responsibilities listed in the job description. They’ll likely describe any major projects they’ll want you to take over in the early months of the position and the people you’ll work with. An in-depth response will help to clarify any duties you’re unsure of, and you can follow up with additional questions as you learn more about the role.
28. What Types of Skills Is the Team Missing that You Are Looking for in a New Hire?
When you ask this question, you’ll learn what the interviewer is looking for in a new hire. Some industries try to promote from within, so if they’re opening the role to external candidates, it’s either an entry-level role or their current team members don’t have the skills or experience necessary to handle the job. Hopefully, you have what they’re looking for and can tell them so after listening to their response.
29. Would This Role Involve Traveling?
Some jobs require infrequent or frequent travel. For instance, sales professionals regularly travel to meet with clients and attend industry events. If you enjoy traveling, the role may be a good fit for you. If you have responsibilities that limit your ability to travel, asking up front about the travel requirements can help you determine whether you’ll be able to meet their expectations.
30. Is Overtime Expected?
Some jobs require overtime. People may work longer hours during certain times of the month or according to the seasons. This question will tell you whether the role involves overtime and when you’ll likely work longer hours. If working overtime is a problem, you’ll need to specify during the interview any limitations you have.
31. Do You Expect the Responsibilities of This Role to Change in the Near Future?
Most jobs have essential responsibilities that remain static over time, but sometimes companies introduce significant changes that could impact the tasks you’ll be responsible for. For example, if the company plans to expand the department, the role you’re interviewing for may change drastically. You may need to take on additional projects or duties not included in the job description. When you ask this question, you’ll learn of any known changes to the company or department that may crop up over the next six to twelve months.
32. How Long Does the Average Person Stay with the Company?
This is a fair question, but it may offend the interviewer, especially if they’ve had recent issues with employee retention. If they indicate that several people recently left, you may ask why. Sometimes employees leave for better opportunities, but other times, the workplace is toxic. However, keep in mind that some industries are more cyclical than others. For instance, retail stores usually hire extra employees during the holiday season.
33. How Do You Reward Employees for Good Work?
While you shouldn’t expect a big reward for performing the primary duties of your job, occasionally, you may need to go the extra mile. Perhaps your manager will ask you to take on a unique project or require you to work overtime during a busy period. Usually, companies try to compensate their employees when they go above and beyond. When you ask this question, you’ll learn whether the employer will value your extra efforts.
34. How Does Senior Management Interact with the Person in This Position?
If moving up the career ladder is vital to you, you’ll want to get to know senior leaders in the organization. Asking this question will tell you whether your role will involve any interactions with senior management, like meetings or projects you might work on. Remember that your position may evolve as your manager learns your capabilities. If the role doesn’t involve any initial interactions with senior management, your manager may give you future projects that allow you to display your strengths to the leadership team.
35. Are There Any Other Tasks You Require This Position to Do That Are Not Mentioned in the Job Description?
In some cases, human resources is responsible for preparing job descriptions for open roles in the company. That department may be unfamiliar with the full responsibilities of the position, so the job description may lack a few critical tasks you’ll handle if the company hires you. Asking this question allows the hiring manager to describe any duties they’ll expect you to oversee that the job description doesn’t include.
36. What Do You Like Best About Your Job?
Asking this question will allow you to learn more about the positive aspects of working for the company. Your interviewer will likely share what they enjoy about the organization and what excites them about their role. A genuine response indicates the interviewer truly loves where they work, which is an excellent sign that the company is attractive to work for.
37. What Is the Company’s Overall Leadership Style?
When you ask this question, you’ll learn the organization’s approach to management. Some companies follow a typical leadership structure, where managers expect employees to handle tasks without asking questions. Other companies take a more flexible approach to leadership, where employees have more authority in their daily responsibilities.
38. What are the next steps in the interview process and when can I expect to hear back?
While not as creative as some of the questions above… this is a strong question to ask an interviewer because it shows that you’re organized and interested in the role. This question will also give you insight into what to expect after the interview ends, so you’ll be less anxious while waiting for feedback. You’ll know how long to wait after the interview, and you’ll be ready to follow up by email if you haven’t heard back in the timeframe provided. For these reasons, I recommend asking this question at the end of all your job interviews.
Bonus idea: Ask questions about topics you discussed in the interview
Some of the most interesting and unique questions to ask in an interview will be related to topics discussed earlier. These aren’t questions you can plan out in advance; instead, they’re questions that come to mind as the conversation with the company happens.
For example, you could say:
“I have a question to ask. Earlier, you mentioned that I would rotate between a couple of different teams and tasks depending on the week. Is that something that most employees in this department are doing? Or is that something that would be unique to my role?”
Conclusion: What to Do Next
Asking questions is a crucial part of impressing an employer in the interview. Ask creative, interesting questions and you’ll stick in an interviewer’s mind and boost your odds of getting the job. If you read everything above, you now know have a long list of unique questions to ask in your interviews. As you prepare for your interviews, I recommend picking three or four of the above questions and then asking each company the same questions. This will help you remember your questions and also compare answers between employers, all while making a great impression so you hear back from more employers.