Grilling Your Interviewer (and Getting Grilled Back)

Posted by The Editors on June 19, 2011
Grilling Your Interviewer (and Getting Grilled Back)

Be prepared to both ask and answer questions at your interview. We've listed some good general questions here and categorized them by their level of aggression. Those in the "Rare" section are meant to be innocuous, while the "Well-Done" questions will put fire under your interviewer's feet. Not all of the questions may be appropriate to your situation. It's a good idea to arrive at an interview prepared with questions specific to the company.


  • How large is the team I'd be working with? How do team members communicate?
  • What project would I work on first, and what would my role in the project be?
  • What would you expect from me in the first three months? Six months? Year?
  • What are the goals of this department?
  • How do you see this department (and company) changing over the next five years?
  • Are employees reviewed on a regular (annual or semiannual) basis? What qualities are evaluated?
  • What are the possibilities for advancement with this position?
  • What distinguishes your company from its competitors? (Note: Even better, name specific competitors.)
  • What is the company's policy toward continuing education? Is there a tuition reimbursement program?
  • How would you describe the company culture?


  • Why is the position now vacant?
  • What do you like most about working for this company? What keeps you here?
  • Is there anything you dislike about this company?
  • What kind of person succeeds at this company?
  • What new products or services does the company plan to add in the next year?
  • What is the department head's leadership style?
  • Is the company currently experiencing any difficulties? What are they?
  • What problems might I expect to encounter?
  • Has the company laid anyone off in the past two years for budgetary reasons?
  • Would it be okay to call you next week to check in?

Well Done

  • How stable is the company financially? At what point, if any, will additional financing be required?
  • How many women and minorities are there in management positions?
  • Have there been instances of sexual harassment in the workplace? If so, how has the company responded?

Getting Grilled
In addition to preparing questions for your interviewer, you should arrive at your interview prepared to answer questions about yourself. Take a few minutes to reflect on your past work, internship, and educational experiences. Though no one can predict exactly what an interviewer will ask, knowing what you've liked and disliked (and why) along with what you've accomplished and learned from previous experience will help you in any interview situation. We've listed some common questions that you should be prepared to answer.

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why did you choose your college major?
  • What were your responsibilities at your previous position?
  • Why did you leave your previous job?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake and learned from it.
  • What type of work environment do you like?
  • What qualities do you look for in a manager?
  • How do you handle stress?
  • Where do you expect your career to be in five years? In ten?
  • What skills do you have that will benefit our company?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • Describe a situation in which your technical expertise made a significant difference.
  • What was the last book you read?
  • What skills would you most like to improve?
  • What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
  • Describe a time when you went above and beyond what was expected of you.
  • How do you prioritize tasks?
  • Describe a time when you overcame a major obstacle. How did you go about it?
  • What are your salary requirements?

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