Questions to Ask Employers

Ask About a Particular Role: Most people will approach an employer, say hello and give a little spiel about their background, and then ask, “Do you have any open roles?” The recruiter will sometimes say, “We do. Check the website.” That’s not a powerful way to maximize your time.  And it tells the recruiter that you didn’t take the time to do any research and you’re not serious about their company. Don’t be one of those people. You can stand out right away by taking a different approach.

  • Is the [open role] you currently have listed more focused on [some function or aspect of the company] or [some other function or aspect of the company]?
  • I noticed the job description for [open role] listed [some vague item] in the responsibilities—what do you mean by that?
  • In a typical day, what does [open role] do?
  • What’s the biggest challenge the new [open role] can help solve?
  • Who’s the manager/direct report for this role?
  • What’s this team’s biggest goal in the next six months?
  • I don’t have a traditional background in [field or function] but I have worked on [something relevant]. Would that be a good fit for [open role]?
  • I noticed you didn’t have any [type of role or roles on a specific team] open just now. What kinds of opportunities in those areas do you foresee down the line?

Ask About the Hiring Process: A one-on-one conversation with a recruiter is also a great opportunity to glean some information and calibrate your expectations for the hiring process.

  • What does the hiring process for [open role] look like?
  • Can you tell me a little bit about the different stages in the hiring process for [open role]?

Ask About Their Experience: One of your main goals going into a career fair or career event should be to use it as a starting point for building long-term relationships.  Don’t just talk about yourself all the time. Be insightful and curious about the other person. The person you’re speaking with works at the company. Ask them about their experience there! You might learn something about the culture that you could never glean from a job posting or website alone.

  • How long have you been at [Company]?
  • What do you like about [Company]?
  • What’s your favorite thing about your job?
  • What do you really enjoy about this role in particular?
  • What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your role or at [Company]?

Ask About Growth and Development: You may be a student or recent graduate looking for your first real step into a new field, but you won’t be a newbie forever. It’s worth asking not just about the role you’ve applied for, but about how you can learn and grow and do more down the line.

  • What does growth and development look like at [Company]?
  • How does [Company] support its employees as they look to grow and level up their skills and responsibilities?
  • I imagine that [innovation at the company or change in the industry] will change how you’re working on [project or product]. How are you developing your workforce to keep up with this?
  • How does [Company] work to upskill and reskill its employees?

Ask About the Organization’s Products, Services, or Recent News: Nothing shows you’ve done your homework like casually mentioning something timely about the organization. Go to the organization’s blog when doing your research, find a recent article or press release, and reference something the organization’s currently going through

  • I recently read an article about [event, announcement, or news related to the company]. What was it like to be a part of that?
  • I know you’ve just announced a strategy change. How is that shift taking place internally?
  • I love [product/service], I use it all the time! How do you think it’s going to evolve in the next year?

Ask About Company Culture: Whatever role it is that you have your eye on, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You’ll be working with colleagues, a team, a department, and an entire organization that has a unique culture. One of the most effective ways you can use your time at a career fair is to ask questions that’ll help you understand a company’s culture and determine if it’s the kind of environment you want.

  • What kind of person is most successful at [Company]?
  • What does communication look like at [Company]? What kind of technology do you use for communication?
  • What kind of culture is there around feedback at [Company]? How do people like to give and receive feedback?
  • Diversity is really important to me. How do you support different identities?
  • I saw photos of [volunteer, diversity, or social event] on the company’s Instagram account. Can you tell me more about that program?
  • Do people hang out outside of work on a regular basis?

Ask How You Can Stay in Touch: Now that you’ve had a fantastic chat, wrap it up by ensuring that this doesn’t have to be the last time you talk. Make sure you know the person’s name and take a business card or get their information in the chat if the event is virtual.

  • What’s the best way to stay in touch with you?
  • What would be a great next step to take after meeting you here?
  • Who can I follow up with about [open role]?