8 Smart Questions to Ask in a Job Interview, According to Career Experts


Many companies no longer rely on annual performance reviews to measure performance and also have metrics for salary increases, Salemi adds.

“Ask how annual salary increases are determined and when,” Salemi tells SELF. “If you start a position in November and salaries are adjusted every January 1 for the new fiscal year, then you are probably starting during the annual salary review process and likely won’t get an increase until the following January, so it’s key to ask about timing.”

3. What’s the salary budget for this role?

When to ask about compensation can be a tricky path to tread. While it might feel too brusque to ask upfront, it can sometimes save a lot of time for everyone involved.

“As a job seeker, you don’t want to [spend time] going on several rounds of interviews only to find out at the end that the pay is below your expectations,” Salemi says. “Interviewers also don’t want to pour time and energy to fall head over heels for you only to find out they’re not on the same page with salary at the end of the process.”

If you’ve been given a range that fits your requirements, then it’s appropriate to wait to discuss exact pay until after you’ve received an offer, when you’re hammering out the details to negotiate a salary. If you have no ballpark whatsoever, asking upfront for at least a range can be helpful so that no one wastes their time.

4. Does your company track diversity and pay equity among different races or gender groups?

Woodruff-Santos recommends saving this question for your first official interview, whether it’s with the hiring manager or with someone from human resources, rather than a screening phone call with a recruiter. As a career expert who is especially passionate about advocating for women of color, this is one of her favorite questions to ask.

“At this stage in my career, where I’m coming in at a senior level, I feel like I can be more direct without having any social penalties in an interview process than someone who’s entry-level,” Woodruff-Santos says. But if you’re interviewing for an entry- or mid-level role and are feeling nervous about broaching this topic (or if you’re senior-level and still nervous), she suggests expressing how excited you are about not only the role itself, then noting that you’re looking for opportunities specifically at a company that values diversity in various ways. After that, you can ask about the company’s demographic breakdowns and what they do to support workers of different identities. According to Woodruff-Santos, that information speaks volumes about the company as a whole.

So does the hiring manager or HR representative’s response. If they act defensive, refuse to answer, or change the subject, that’s a sign that they likely are not transparent with employees, Salemi says. It can also tell you a lot about how they treat issues of diversity and equity as a whole, Woodruff-Santos adds.

“However, if they listen to your question with empathy and provide you with an answer that seems honest and forthcoming, then that’s a very good sign about the culture,” Salemi says.

5. Can you tell me about the benefits package and any other company perks?

These simple questions are fair game to ask HR from the get-go, Woodruff-Santos says. It’s best to save them for HR rather than the hiring manager because they’ll know the ins and outs of how things like the retirement plan works, and oftentimes, they might have a handbook that outlines what’s offered.

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