Most Job Hunters Fail When Answering this Question

Most job candidates are unprepared for this question and bomb it.

A recent discussion with an HR Director at T-Mobile centered around defining the top mistakes people make in the interview. He said: “I judge candidates by the questions they ask. That’s what’s most revealing to me. I want someone focused on succeeding in the job and not just centered on how much money I will pay him. Unfortunately, most candidates are unprepared for this question and bomb it.”

What a lost opportunity. Here is where you could have learned more in-depth insight about the role. This is the precise time in the interview to uncover and determine if this job, company, and boss are right for you.

In today’s workplace, where many employers are understaffed, and work cultures have turned toxic, you want to know precisely what you are getting yourself into.

Are current employees fleeing to another employer because they are unhappy with the one you are talking to? You need a realistic picture of the duties and the hours of the role. You should also carefully assess the prospective boss. How long have they been in their position? What kind of a manager are they? These are some vital questions you want answers to in order to get a clearer picture of that boss and the job.

Avoid Doing This

The worst thing any job hunter can do is respond to the “Do you have any questions?” probe by answering “No.” The employer will be unimpressed. You missed a critical opportunity to learn more about the job and help you decide if you want it.

Next, no questions about salary, benefits, PTO, medical coverage, sick leave, $401K, etc. Wait until after you have the job offer to review all these details, as some are negotiable.

One exception is people in sales. Most employers do cover upfront how they reward you detailing the base salary and commission or bonus structure since this information determines whether you are in the ballpark for this role there.

Are you ready for your next interview?

Robin's one-on-one interview preparation coaches you on what to say, how to say it, and what not to say so that you make a great first and lasting impression.

Questions You Should Ask

People have a hard time thinking up their questions. The questions you ask are strictly job-related and cover the job duties. Prepare a list of pertinent questions that you would like answered to determine if this position is a good fit for you. Type out your questions in advance so you are ready. Ten questions are a reasonable number to have on your list.

Questions may have been answered during the interview. Do bring up anything the employer mentioned that you want to know more about. If by chance he has already responded to every question, say this: “As I check over my list, my questions on your software programs and budgets were covered. So, you’ve covered everything already.”

Make inquiries about getting a snapshot of the corporate culture. Before you meet the employer, do some research. Check out the hiring manager on LinkedIn. Go to and read what others say who work for this company. Network to get some insider information about what is going on in the company and department you are applying to.

You may have preconceived ideas about its culture based on marketing and advertising or media news. Often these preconceived ideas prove to be inaccurate once you get into the interview and begin to ask your questions. Better to learn now that you don’t want this job, rather than three weeks after you’ve started.

New questions often arise during some part of the interview. It’s usually best to ask these questions as soon as they come up, saying, “Could you explain that more fully?” or “Please elaborate.” Be sure you get answers to incongruities and investigate if a red flag comes up.

Pose the appropriate question to the correct person. Technical questions and job specifics are unlikely to be answered by the HR person, whose responsibility is to screen and validate your experience but who possesses only a general idea of the job duties. Save these for the hiring manager. How the interview process will work can be answered by the recruiter.

Address these questions to the hiring manager or decision-maker:

  • Could you describe to me your typical management style and the type of employee that works well with you?
  • What do you want to see accomplished in the first six months to view the person as a success in this role?
  • What are the day-to-day responsibilities I’ll have in this job?
  • What challenges might I encounter if I take on this position?
  • Whom will I be supervising?
  • What are your major concerns that need to be immediately addressed in this job?
  • Are there any restraints or cutbacks planned that would decrease that budget?
  • Are you understaffed, and how will that impact the work demands on this job?
  • Why do you like working for this company?

Beware of Red Flags

Do pay attention to any red flags you uncover. Be sure to get these answered in detail. In addition, it is wise to talk with any connections who can shed light on these concerns.

This article was originally published in Forbes.

©2024 Robin Ryan

Picture of Robin Ryan

Robin Ryan

A career counselor that helps clients land jobs, I offer Resume Writing, LinkedIn Profile Writing, Interview Coaching, and Salary Negotiation services.

I’ve appeared on Oprah, Dr. Phil and over 3200 other TV and radio shows. A Wall Street Journal #1 bestselling author, I have written eight career books including: 60 Seconds & You’re Hired, Retirement Reinvention, Winning Resumes and Over 40 & You’re Hired. Currently I write a careers column for

Helping people advance their careers and land a new job is my mission.

Free 'LinkedIn Profiles' E-Guide

Sign up for Robin’s newsletter for timely job search tips and she’ll send you her free E-Guide for Creating an Impressive LinkedIn Profile.