The One Interview Question You Should Always Ask (And Those To Avoid)

Drawing blanks at the end of interviews? Stand out by asking this unique question.

If you hate interviews, you aren’t alone. Research suggests the majority of job applicants fear something about the interview process, whether it be being the center of attention, or getting caught off guard with unexpected questions.

But the good news is you can do something about it. Aside from doing your research and preparing your answers to the best of your ability, arming yourself with a killer question to ask at the end is a great way to strengthen your competitive advantage, and avoid getting caught off guard at the end of the interview.

If you’re drawing blanks, we reveal a must-have question to ask at the end of your interview, according to a former Google recruiter. We also cover other tried-and-tested questions you should be aware of – as well as some that you should avoid at all costs.

Preparing For An Interview? Make Sure You Ask This Question

Congrats, you’ve made it through your interview. The interrogation has come to an end and the interviewer is turning the tables by giving you a chance to ask a question.

Asking questions allows you to learn more about what it’s like to work for the company, and crucially, it lets you demonstrate your intentions for the company and role. While asking anything is better than drawing blanks, former Google recruiter Nolan Church believes there’s one question that trumps them all:

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‘What’s the No. 1 problem I can solve in the first 30 days?’

According to Church, this question is unrivaled because it has multiple intentions. Asking interviewees about the most critical problem facing their company is a great way to decipher what challenges the company is facing. From there, you can decide if this is a job that you have the desire and capacity to do.

The question should prompt an interesting discussion, and help you understand if your approach aligns with the one that’s currently being taken by the company, and whether they’re receptive to new ideas.

In addition, if you’re interested in taking the next steps with the company, asking this question is a great way to position you for future success. According to Church, by enquiring about what the most critical problem for the team is during the interview stage, you get a head start when it comes to thinking about how to solve these problems.

It also portrays you as a candidate who is capable of hitting the ground running, and is willing to go above and beyond when it comes to helping the company address its biggest roadblocks. If it doesn’t feel like a natural fit for your interview, there are lots of alternatives that service similar purposes including ‘What are some problems I would be able to solve within the first month?‘, or “How could I impress you within my first month of working for the company?“.

Both of these interview questions demonstrate strategic thinking and a sense of confidence and act as a solid jump-off point for further discussion. We’d recommend asking more than one question at the end of the interview, however, so if you’re in need of some extra inspiration, read on for some other fail-safe ideas.

Other Winning Questions to Ask Your Interviewer

The right interview question will depend on your unique circumstances and relationship to the role and company. You may naturally come up with follow-up questions during the conversation too. But if you feel stuck, here are some great options to keep up your sleeve.

“What do you like about working at this company?”

This simple question is a great way to find out more about the reality of working for the company. It’ll give you an insight into which perks the companies offer, and which benefits are the most popular with employees. If it’s hard for the interviewer to answer the question, it’s also a good indicator of the company’s shortcomings.

“Why did you join the company?”

Similarly to the previous question, this gives you insights into the appeal of the company from someone else’s eyes. It could also prompt follow-up questions about whether the company fulfilled the expectations of the interviewer.

“When will I hear back from you?”

This tried-and-true interview classic serves a functional purpose, by filling you in about the next stage of the process. What’s more, aside from quelling future anxieties, asking when you should expect a response is also a great way to signal your interest in the role.

“What could I do to prepare myself for the job?”

Enquiring about preparation shows your interviewer you’re proactive, and that you will take the opportunity seriously. Its also an effective way to gain practical advice that will bode you well in the future. Obviously though, only ask this question if you’re interested in the job.

“Why is this position open?”

Asking this question is a valuable way to learn about the company’s current circumstances. Whether they’re focusing on expansion, or backfilling a role after a previous employee was promoted or quit, their answer will help inform you about trends taking place within the company, and the direction they’re currently taking.

“How do you measure success in the role?”

Asking this question will give you insights about the company’s key performance indicators (KPIs), and help you decide if their definition of success is compatible with your own.

“Where does your company expect to be in five years?”

By flipping the script and asking the interviewer about the company’s future goals, you’ll come across as assertive, and gather more information about the company’s long-term vision. This will also help you determine whether the company would be a good fit for you later down the line.

Avoid These Interview Questions At All Costs

While many people claim ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question’, we don’t agree. Asking the wrong question at the end of an interview can make you come across as underprepared or unprofessional – ultimately jeopardizing your chances of progressing in the process.

To prevent you from putting your foot in it, here are some questions to avoid asking in an interview context:

“What’s the salary?”

Enquiring about pay and benefits directly could harm your chances of succeeding as the interviewer may assume you aren’t interested in the job for the right reasons. We’d recommend waiting for the employer to bring this up first, then taking their lead. If it doesn’t come up naturally, ask the recruiter or company’s HR contact.

“What does your company do?”

Asking simplistic questions like this shows that you did zero research before the interview. It implies you have a base-level understanding of the company, and are probably not serious about pursuing the opportunity.

“What would I be doing in the role?”

Similar to the last question, asking this will make you seem woefully unprepared and disinterested in the role. If you’re curious to learn more about the job, we’d advise rephrasing the question and asking what a day would look like in the role instead.

“Can I apply for another role in the company?”

Enquiring about other jobs will show employers that you’re not serious about the position. If you’re genuinely curious about pursuing other vacancies in the company, we’d recommend asking the recruiters about this in a follow-up email instead. However, it’s fine, and encouraged, to ask about future progression opportunities.

Now you’re armed with all the questions to ask – and not ask – at the end of an interview, learn how to write a follow-up email after the meeting itself. Alternatively, if you can’t stand the thought of putting yourself through an interview, learn about some popular no-interview jobs, and how to apply to them.

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Written by:
Isobel O'Sullivan (BSc) is a senior writer at with over four years of experience covering business and technology news. Since studying Digital Anthropology at University College London (UCL), she’s been a regular contributor to Market Finance’s blog and has also worked as a freelance tech researcher. Isobel’s always up to date with the topics in employment and data security and has a specialist focus on POS and VoIP systems.
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