How to Answer ‘Do You Have Any Questions for Me?’

Interviews always result in a number of cliches, but one of the most common is that question near the end:

“Do you have any questions for me?”

It’s a trick question. The interviewer is hoping to learn about you from what you ask, just as much as you’re hoping to learn by asking them. That’s not a bad thing: Every piece of information in an interview — questions, answers, the office/conference room, what kind of drinks they offer and how many, the titles of the people who interview you — is an opportunity for both parties to learn about each other.

So, what both shows you off and provides you with information?

  • Ask a follow up question about something you discussed earlier. For example, if you were asked about red-black trees, inquire how the company uses them and why they chose them over an AVL tree. This tells the interviewer you were listening. It also helps you better understand his or her technical chops, and if the question was applicable or just a “do you have a CS degree” filter.
  • Ask about career paths… carefully. Ask how people move around the company. If you’re interested in management, go ahead and ask about it. If you’re interested in staying technical, ask if there’s a non-management technical career track. You won’t get a full picture, but you can at least figure out if there’s a defined process or if things are  free-flowing. But be careful. There are wrong ways to ask this question, so avoid the ones that seem like you don’t want the position, such as, “How long before I can be promoted?” or “What’s after this job?” Instead, ask in ways that show you want the job and that you want to be at the company for a while. For example, “Tell me about the career track here.”
  • Ask about their process. If the company says they’re an agile team, ask for details. Things that sound the same at a very high level often aren’t when you dig in. Process is a place where companies tend to “tweak,” and its processes will define a lot of how you go about doing your job. It’s best to ask up front.
  • Ask about something that bugged you at your last job. It’s often the little things that add up. Pick a small thing that bugged you. For example, maybe you really didn’t like that stand-ups involved people sitting down. Ask about it. Just remember: When you ask, don’t badmouth your old employer, or even say why you’re asking.
  • Ask the same question of every interviewer. The variety of answers you get will be interesting. Your interviewers (who’ll probably talk to each other about you) will know you did it, and probably respect your double-checking skills.

What’s your favorite question to ask during interview? Tell me in the comments below.

3 Responses to “How to Answer ‘Do You Have Any Questions for Me?’”

  1. Lee Crites

    Why are you talking to me? What is it about my resume and such that piqued your interest?

    NOTE: EVERYTHING they do during the interview is designed with one thing in mind — to either qualify you or disqualify you. Unless they are dolts, you’ll probably never figure out which one it is.

    They even judge you by the questions you ask back. Again, your questions will either be used to help qualify you for the position or disqualify you for the position.

    So I turn the tables on them. I ask why me?

    I only want to know two things: 1) do they have a clue, and 2) is this a qualification or dis-qualification interview.

    Depending on their answers, I will continue to interview THEM.

    If they asked me what my three major accomplishments were, then I’ll ask them what the three major accomplishments of the team or department I will be working for were.

    If they asked me about a mistake I made and what I learned from it, I will ask them about a mistake the company made, and what they learned from it.

    I might also ask if the board of directors meetings are open, and if so, can employees attend them? I haven’t asked a bay area company that (recently), but since I have now seen too many of them go sour because of executive level issues, this is certainly something I will be talking to people about in the future.

    MAJOR ATTITUDE NOTE: This process is a two-way street. The only way you go to work for them is if BOTH of you say “yes.” They say “yes” by making the offer; you say “yes” by accepting it. If either one does NOT say “yes,” then the job does not happen.

    If I don’t feel good about their answers, that ends the interview.

    Now I’m not confrontational about it — that would be stupid. But a friendly and direct question about these kinds of things should be expected, and answered.

    If they won’t (or can’t) answer them, take the hint. If you are desperate, and have to have a job to keep a roof over your head, then, yes, you might take it — but keep looking for another job.

    If they are open and friendly and answer your questions openly and honestly, then WONDERFUL!!!!!! That’s what you are looking for.

  2. Brad Clark

    A response to an ‘old’ article, I know, but the validity remains.

    As an interviewee, having done my research, I pose intelligent questions about the company, and about the position. I use this opportunity to subtly suggest I’ve been selected by using phrases such as “Once I join the team, what documentation processes will we use?”

    As an interviewer, I look for clues the prospect has either done some research and showed interest in the position, or has paid attention, picked up on something discussed, and shows interest enough to want more detail. If they have no questions, and they don’t seem overly nervous (some just do not interview well), I am left feeling they are not interested.

    Either way, the worst questions are to ask about the hours or compensation. If it hasn’t been mentioned, the interview went poorly. Either the interviewer is not good at interviewing and left out a major detail, or they are not interested. Job offers rarely come in the first conversation. Ask about something else that is pertinent first, then perhaps mention that no salary range or on-call requirements were mentioned.

    At the end of the process, if two or more applicants are deemed a ‘good fit’ with the right skill set, the one who showed the most interest or enthusiasm about the job gets my vote every time.

    Always have questions ready for the interviewer!