Crushing a job interview can be a tough ask. Questions are often fired at you like shirts out of a cannon. You’re asked to sell yourself as both a candidate and a potential leader, a complex process for those with a humble demeanor. Sometimes interviewers will attempt to trip you with hard-hitting and unique questions, toeing the line between legitimate inquiries and strange tests, as if quizzing how well you can be on your mental toes. It can be a whirlwind with opinions and facts swirling around your head, sweat pulling from your pores, and a resume shaking in your hand.
Things get even worse when the employer finishes the interview by asking if you, the interviewee, have any questions for them. After a period of speaking about yourself and being led entirely by the hiring manager, you now have to flip the switch to the other side of the pitch. If you aren’t prepared, you may answer the task with many ‘umms’, ultimately leaving the opportunity behind without any questions asked.
Let’s be frank: Tier2Tek is a staffing agency. We always end our interviews by asking the candidates if they have questions. In fact, we incline every hiring manager to do so.
As an employee, how do you answer the question? How do you formulate unique questions that make you stand out as both inquisitive and intelligent, ready to take the job by the horns?
Here are our top 10 unique questions to ask your interviewer.
- Why Do They Ask?
- Top 10 Unique Questions to Ask Your Interviewer
- 1. What’s the Company Culture Like?
- 2. What Is the Company’s Greatest Competitive Advantage?
- 3. What Are the Biggest Challenges the Team Has Faced This Year?
- 4. What Advice Will Help Me Succeed at This Company?
- 5. What Kind of Personality Would or Wouldn’t Work With This Team?
- 6. What Does Success Look Like at This Job?
- 7. Is There Anything Missing From My Resume?
- 8. What Do You Like the Most About Your Job?
- 9. Is This a New Position? If Not, Why Is There a Vacancy?
- 10. What Is Your Management Style?
Why Do They Ask?
Why does a potential employer ask candidates if they have any questions during an interview? It’s an interview of the employee, after all. Right?
Upfront, it makes sense for an interviewer to ask if the opposing party has questions. It allows the interviewer to clear up any misconceptions and further sell the job to the employee. At the end of the day, if the employer offers the job, it’s the employee’s decision to make. The employee should know everything they want to know about the gig, pay, and future at the position. An interview doesn’t give much room for the employee to learn about the job and the employer. It’s a chance to clear it all up.
But, there are ulterior motives. The interviewer is asking for questions to see what the candidate comes up with. What’s important to the candidate? What are they looking for in the job? Are they motivated to move up?
It’s a bit of reverse psychology (or something in the realm of human thought that’s hard to define). For example, if the interviewee asks the interviewer what growth options are available, it shows the job that the candidate wants to improve and grow within the company.
Therefore, there are bad and good questions to ask as the interviewee. Some may make you look like an employee that brings baggage or selfish wants to the table.
Here is a blurb about the situation from our brilliant article:
Top 32 Interview Questions to Ask Candidates with Answers in (2023)
A great candidate will ask follow-up questions related to the success of the position, such as:
- What does a successful candidate look like in this position?
- What type of candidate are you trying to avoid in this position?
- If selected, what are the top five things you would want me to work on within the first 30 days?
Some red flag questions would be if the candidate asks about how soon they would expect to be promoted to the next level. Another red flag would be if they ask the manager to explain the details of the benefits package before they are made an offer.
In general, a great candidate asks follow-up questions showing genuine concern on how they can be successful in the position. At the end of the day, the interview questions shouldn’t be just for the candidate.
How to Stand Out
Long story short, you can use unique questions to separate yourself as a candidate. According to a study by Forbes, only 20% of applicants are interviewed. You need to stand out on more than just your resume.
If you ask the right things, you can raise the attention of hiring managers, leaving them with a lasting impression of positivity. Seeing as the questions part of an interview is often the last subject, it’s the best time to leave them wanting more.
It’s your time to shine.
Top 10 Unique Questions to Ask Your Interviewer
Let’s get down to it.
Firstly, we need to note that all of the listed questions are considered unique (at least in our opinion). This does not mean that these are the only questions you should ask. For example, if you have yet to discuss financial compensation, this may be time to do so.
Questions about progression in the company, onboarding, project examples, and so on are obvious and common but useful. Don’t forget them. Just remember to ask any questions you have along with the following unique ones.
Also, I feel as if I must note that these are not ranked in numerical order. All 10 are equally viable.
1. What’s the Company Culture Like?
This question benefits both parties. Firstly, it shows the hiring company that you care about inclusion and company culture. You want to make sure you fit in with a company’s ideals before working for them. Overall, it’s an admirable trait to have as both a leader and a teammate.
According to TeamStage, 15% of job seekers declined a job due to the company’s culture. Henceforth, it’s pretty important to candidates. Workers want to support and be a part of a company that they feel comfortable standing behind. Therefore, finding out what the company is about before accepting a job offer is important. Asking about it benefits both of your decisions.
It’s entirely possible this will be something discussed throughout the normal interview, so it might not be necessary to ask further (especially in 2023). If it isn’t brought up, do so here.
2. What Is the Company’s Greatest Competitive Advantage?
Throughout the vetting process, candidates are asked to sell themselves to employers. It becomes a one-sided affair. Fortunately, the Great Resignation has brought a bit of change to this. With an increase in employee values and pickiness, jobs are now finding themselves having to sell to employees.
Turning the tables at the end of the interview shows confidence in yourself as an employer. You’ve gotten this far with the employer. You have sold yourself to them (at least to a degree). It’s time for them to sell themselves to you.
Why should you work for the company? What makes them a better company and workplace than their competitors? Not only does this make you look confident in your abilities, but it helps you figure out if this is a place you want to work.
It’s similar to the former culture question, in that regard.
3. What Are the Biggest Challenges the Team Has Faced This Year?
Now we are getting into the really unique questions.
Firstly, these next few questions may knock your interviewer off course for a second. If you find them searching for correct thoughts and verbiage, you are doing well. You aren’t looking to stump the interviewer, but you are looking to make them think. Interviewing can become so routine for hiring managers that they lose a bit of moxie. Making their job interesting, if only for a minute, will get them to remember you when the hiring time comes.
Ultimately, asking this question shows that you are already interested in figuring out solutions for your hypothetical team. You are ready to take charge and implement yourself as a helpful member. It looks fantastic on you as a teammate and worker. It also shows that you are willing and ready to learn (always a big plus).
4. What Advice Will Help Me Succeed at This Company?
This is another one that should put your interviewer on their heels.
At first, this question may seem a bit strange. You are asking the interviewer to give you advice on how to work at the company. You are completely turning the tables, getting them to help you secure the job. They are now not only answering your question, but they are telling you how to succeed at the job you are supposed to be convincing them of.
How’s that for some reverse psychology?
Furthermore, it shows the employer you are willing to learn and are confident that you will secure the job.
Confidence Is Key, Always!
The aforementioned two adjectives (confidence and willingness to learn) will be continuously referred to throughout this entire article. Basically, everything you do during the interview process should show the employer you are confident in yourself and ready to work.
Confidence is key in any interview. You need to express that you are sure of your abilities and proud of your accomplishments. The fact that you got to the interview shows that you have something they’re looking for, now you just need to show it.
Therefore, do not be afraid to talk yourself up. Bravado is impressionable, and companies want to hire someone that does not second-guess their skills.
Let them know what you bring to the company and how you can improve what they’re doing. For example, if the job calls for IT but you have knowledge of sales, let them know how you can implement your outside skills.
If the employer asks you to rate yourself on a scale of one to ten, don’t be modest. Say you think you are a 10 because you’re willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
Bonus: You can throw a bit of wit in with your confidence as well. Things like this leave a lasting impression. Do not be too braggadocious, but be headstrong.
5. What Kind of Personality Would or Wouldn’t Work With This Team?
Toxic employees and troublesome work relationships can ruin a workplace. Not only can it make workers feel jaded and exhausted, but it can make an entire team dislike each other. Increasing productivity means creating a workforce that gels together.
Often we think of toxic employees as workers that want to stir the pot. They look for ways to increase negativity and gossip. They bring pessimism and self-defeating attitudes to the workforce. But, like every human situation, there are other specific cases.
Sometimes an employee just doesn’t fit in with the workforce that is already in place. Sometimes personalities just don’t click. This doesn’t mean either party has a bad personality or is attempting to sour the team.
Ask the employer to give an example of what personalities would work with the existing workforce. This will give you a peek into what exactly the company is looking for and if the job sounds like the right place for you. Also, it shows the hiring manager that you are introspective, humble, and understand the importance of teamwork.
6. What Does Success Look Like at This Job?
As with the other unique questions on this list, this question works in two different ways.
One, this gives you an idea of what you need to do to succeed at the job. It will let you know what the higher-ups are looking for in their great employees and what you need to do to stand out. It gives you a clear gateway into being a star employee. Their idea of a successful worker should be your benchmark and yearly goal. Are you doing what they want you to as a part of the team?
Two, the answer will give you an idea of potential growth at the company. If they say a successful employee is a great leader that can manage all departments, then you can be sure that you will be given the opportunity to become those things in the future (if you are an exceptional worker). It can give you a glimpse into your future at the company.
7. Is There Anything Missing From My Resume?
Here’s an extremely risky and unique one. If it works out, you are going for gold!
Ask the hiring manager if there is anything missing or concerning on your resume so that you can explain it. This shows both humility and honesty. You are not attempting to hide anything or dodge any questions. You are ready to break down the nitty gritty and answer any question that needs to be addressed. After all, you want to get ahead of concerns before they swell into red flags.
Furthermore, this can help you create a better resume in the future (if you don’t get this job, of course).
Remember: this is not an opportunity to start making excuses. If the interviewer has a concern about your resume that you don’t have a reason for, don’t start lying. Let them know that it’s a valid point and explain why or how you can overcome it. Don’t start stating that you forgot to put it or you have a reason it didn’t happen.
For example, if the hiring manager states that they are concerned you don’t have much experience in the exact role, say that it’s a reasonable response. Say you are willing to do whatever it takes to learn the position and you believe your soft traits can help you succeed there.
Don’t say that you couldn’t get a job in the field because of excuses A, B, and C.
8. What Do You Like the Most About Your Job?
Turn the tables, you DJ!
Hiring managers don’t get to talk about themselves much. Ask them what they enjoy about the job or the company. Not only will it allow you both to build a personal repertoire before getting hired, but it will give you an organic look at the company’s culture.
Though this question is used to create a back-and-forth with the interviewer, it’s also used to help you decide about the job. If the manager isn’t necessarily jived about their job or the company, you may want to look closely at the established work culture. It may be possible that you can get an idea of a negative workplace through these questions.
9. Is This a New Position? If Not, Why Is There a Vacancy?
You can learn a lot of unsaid things about a company and job by how long the position has been open.
If a company has had a position open for a significant amount of time, they are either not pressed about filling the role or can not fill the role. The former says that you won’t be important to the day-to-day production of the team and may be overlooked. The latter says that it might be a problem with the company, not the employees they bring on. Both are red flags.
If the position is new, things are a little more optimistic.
Overall, the answer the interviewer gives should be able to provide you with a gut feeling about what’s really going on at the company.
10. What Is Your Management Style?
Last but not least is the question that a lot of managers fear.
While not the most unique of the questions to ask the interviewer, it is ranked high in importance.
How many times have you heard a peer complaining about their boss or manager? How many times have you heard of someone quitting a job because of their employer’s behavior?
A survey of 3,000 workers by GoodHire in 2021 found that 82% would consider quitting their job due to a bad manager. There’s a statistic for you.
An unsavory or unhelpful supervisor can lead to a plethora of workplace issues. Not only will a bad leader cause retention to plummet, but they cause a toxic workplace for those that are forced to stay. No one wants to work for leaders that are irresponsible, insulting, or unsuccessful. It’s a simple conclusion. People want to work for leaders they respect and trust.
Get ahead of this by feeling out the manager before you work for them.