Are the following questions "Great" for candidates to ask of interviewers?

What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?

What are the common attributes of your top performers?

What are a few things that really drive results for the company?

What do employees do in their spare time?

How do you plan to deal with [industry problem]?


I'm a new pharmacist graduate. Currently working in academia and looking to switch into health institutions. 

I have many short interviews (8) coming during a career fair. Just bought the Interviewing Series and super excited to learn. 

Thank you for your time.


mattpalmer's picture

As an interviewer, this would be my reaction to those questions:

1) Good question, let us talk about what we'd get you to do, although unless you're replacing someone specific don't expect me to be able to give you too many specifics.

2) Good question, let us talk about how to be awesome.  If I *can't* give you a good answer to this question, that's a bit of a red flag.  If I don't know what behaviours make up a top performer, how can I possibly expect to help my people act better?

3) Not a real good question for an intro level person, but if I was hiring someone in top 2/3 of the chain of command it would be a better fit.

4) Huh?  What's that got to do with this job and how to do it?

5) Delivered in that way, I'd be somewhat defensive -- it feels like a hostile reporter question.  However, I *have* asked this question of a job interviewer in this way: "In my research on $COMPANY, I've noticed a number of people complaining about $PROBLEM.  How big an issue do you feel this is?"  It sparked a good conversation about both the problem, and the meta-problem of people complaining about it.

Hope that helps you pick your inverview questions.

rxalexbarker's picture


I appreciate your perspective. 

I think asking their expectations on 60/90 day plan and top performer attributes are the best questions. 


mmann's picture
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I pretty much agree with Matt, especially that spare time question.

As a candidate, I usually like to ask questions which require the interviewer picture me doing the work.  To that end, I'd modify the last question to something like, "What impact do you see [industry problem] having on me in this role?"

  Good luck!

rxalexbarker's picture

I really appreciate your feedback.  I honestly thought the "culture" question was legitimate. But I'm sure Mark would say something like, "That's not that place to ask."

RDHodgson's picture


The results-oriented question isn't bad in its intent. You're trying to signal an interest in, well, generating results. You want to show you're focused on that, and you want to know what's crucially going to be expected of you in that situation.

So perhaps you could reword it as, "What are my crucial metrics of performance going to be?" and, if you want to be really hot, take an educated guess at them and ask if it's any of those, to show you understand what those might be.

I really like Matt's response to number 2 btw. People like me tend to talk about what questions communicate to the interviewer. But you also want to think about what they're communicating to you too.

One thing I like to do is ask what differentiaties them from a particular competitor. This isn't a BS question. I've interviewed with a bunch of digital marketing companies, and no matter what they say about how unique they are on their websites... they rarely actually say anything there that tells me what they do differently. If you can get a read of how another company works (or how you think they work), you can ask whether that's true here as well. It's basically a less general way of asking, "What on earth are you guys actually about?"

I suppose one way to look at it is that you're not conducting a scientific/psychological investigation. You want to ask biased, leading questions, questions which provide a structure for them to bounce off of. I find any kind of question which asks how they act differently to X, or whether they agree with Y, or how they've been impacted by something in industry Z... I find those to be pretty good. But I also see them as starting points - I find half of what I ask in an interview is me bouncing off something they say and which interests me about their answer. And the most interesting things they have to say tend to be about very specific things like that.

Oh, and follow Mark's old advice about *not* asking about salary/benefits/etc. 



"Now bring me DISC profile 6-1-4-7, your time is up and your feedback's begun!"

rxalexbarker's picture

 Great stuff Rory. I really appreciate your experience. 

I am rewording my questions, thanks to you. No questions about company culture, benefits, vacation, it :)

monkeyflower's picture

I'm interviewing for the first time in 20 years, but I'm a manager so I have a sense of what interviewer questions annoy me. My list of questions is about how the team I would join interacts with other teams and what the short and medium term goals of the position or role are. Usually there isn't much time for questions anyhow, the interviewer fills the time. As long as the questions are about what you will contribute not what you will get out of it, you are probably OK.