How to Ask Smart Questions in an Interview: The Best Way to Show Your Curiosity, Competence, and Fit 

How to Ask Smart Questions in an Interview: The Best Way to Show Your Curiosity, Competence, and Fit 

Hooray! You’ve made it to the interview stage of your job application – a thrilling and slightly nerve-wracking point in the process. But guess what? Interviews aren’t a one-way interrogation; they’re a two-way conversation. While the employer evaluates whether you’re the right fit for their company, you are also determining whether this job and company align with your career goals and values. 

That seems like a lot, right? How exactly do you do that? You leverage the power of asking intelligent questions during the job interview! In this post, we’re diving into the art of asking great interview questions. Questions that aren’t just about making you shine as a candidate but are also a compass for making an informed decision about your possible new job. 

Why Is it Important to Ask Questions During an Interview? 

Asking questions in a job interview isn’t about showing off your knowledge or impressing the interviewer. In fact, don’t try to do that at all! Just be your genuine, authentic self. Good interview questions help you in many other ways. 

1. It Shows Your Genuine Interest 

Employers love candidates who radiate genuine interest because they tend to be the go-getters, the team players who bring the extra oomph! And, frankly, it shows the employer you actually want the job. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers are drawn to candidates who bring energy and positivity. In an interview, if you’re the enthusiastic candidate eager to know more about the job, you’re definitely scoring points over someone with a less-than-excited or disinterested vibe.¹

So, when you’re in that interview, questions are your chance to show your genuine curiosity and interest in the job and the company. It’s your opportunity to say, “Hello, I’m really interested in this company and role, and I want to learn more!” 

2. It Gets You the Inside Scoop 

In an interview, you are assessing each other. Yes, the employer is trying to learn more about you, but you’re also learning more about them. By asking questions, you get a sneak peek into what it’s really like to work there. You can learn about the company culture, what the team is like, and what opportunities lie ahead. It lets you get a feel for what a “day in the life” of the role might be like. 

3. It Puts Your Skills in the Spotlight 

Smart questions help you shine a spotlight on your skills and experience. Imagine asking about the challenges the team is facing and then saying, “You know, I’ve dealt with similar challenges in my previous job, and here’s how I tackled them.” It’s not just about answering their questions; it’s also about showing them why you’re the solution they’ve been looking for. And let’s be honest, they want to find a solution; if the job is open, they are hoping to fill it! 

Crack the Code: Asking Smart Questions in Your Next Interview 

When asking questions during an interview, steer clear of the ones where Google could’ve done the heavy lifting. The easy ones you could uncover with a few clicks on the company website or a quick peek at the job posting. (Although do that homework, too—never go into an interview without basic knowledge of the company and the role.) 

Instead, focus on questions that demonstrate your interest in the company and your qualifications for the role. Here’s how you can achieve that: 

1. Research the Company 

Getting ready for your interview takes more than a quick peek at the company’s website. To really shine, dive deep into your research. Begin by getting a full grasp of the company’s history, mission, values, and what they sell or provide. But don’t stop there; check out any recent news, updates, and anything specific to their industry that might come in handy. If you know anyone who does or used to work there, reach out to see what they might be able to share.  

With this info, you’ll be all set to ask good questions during the interview, showing you’re interested in the job.  

Related Reading: The Future of Hiring Is Virtual: How to Adapt and Thrive in a Remote Interview Environment 

2. Don’t Ask the Obvious 

Think of your questions like custom-made suits. One size doesn’t fit all. Instead of asking generic questions you could use anywhere, focus on what makes this particular job and company unique. This shows that you’re not just going through the motions but are genuinely interested in this opportunity. 

We recommend taking notes and preparing some questions in advance. Bring your notebook, jot down additional items during the conversation, and when they ask, “Do you have any questions?” you’ll be ready! 

3. Ask Open-Ended Questions 

Open-ended questions are the secret sauce for engaging conversations. They’re the kind that gets people talking and sharing meaningful stuff. They usually start with words like “how,” “what,” “why,” or “tell me about.” 

So, instead of tossing out a snoozer like, “Is there room for growth in this position?” which can be answered by just a yes or no, you could go with something like, “How does career progression typically work for someone in this role?” This invites the interviewer to provide more in-depth information. 

4. Ask About Challenges and Expectations 

It’s wise to ask about the challenges the team or department is facing and what they expect from you. This shows you’re proactive and keen to understand how you can contribute effectively. Plus, you need to know the challenges and how they might expect you to help resolve them. For example, you could ask, “What are the main challenges the team is dealing with, and how does this role fit into addressing those challenges?” 

5. Showcase Your Research 

During the interview, subtly show off your research by mentioning specific details about the company. For example, you could say, “I saw in your recent annual report that your company is expanding into new markets. How does this expansion affect the strategic direction of the role I’m applying for?” This not only highlights your research efforts but also ties it directly to the job you’re interested in. And gets them to share important information you need to know—win-win-win! 

6. Ask About the Team 

Asking about the team you’ll be part of and how the reporting works can give you a better understanding of the role. Questions like, “Tell me more about the team dynamics and how this role fits in with other departments?” show that you’re thinking about the bigger picture of your potential responsibilities. 

7. Seek Personal Insights 

And when the moment is just right, why not turn the tables and give the interviewer a chance to shine? Ask them about their journey with the company. Questions like, “What do you enjoy most about working here? “What inspired you to join this company?” These gems don’t just offer personal insights; they add a touch of personability and empathy to your interview.  

8. Avoid Asking Questions About Benefits or Salary Until the Time is Right 

While compensation and benefits are important considerations, we recommend holding these discussions until later in the interview process or until the employer initiates the conversation. This is important information you need to know, but decide if the job is one you want before you get into the details of pay, benefits, and PTO policy. The job description should provide basic information and, as long as you can work with what you see there, let those conversations be part of the discussion when an offer is made. 

In an initial interview, focus on understanding the job, the company, and how you can be a valuable asset. You’ll get to pay and benefits eventually, but first, let’s build a strong understanding of the role. 

9. Prepare Multiple Questions 

It’s a good idea to have a list of questions ready before the interview; however, don’t feel obligated to ask all of them. Instead, adapt your questions to the flow of the interview and the information that has already been covered. This flexibility allows for more natural and engaging conversations that delve deeper into specific areas of interest. 

10. Take Notes 

It’s vital to jot down key points and responses as the interview progresses. Not only does this help you remember important details, but it also sends a subtle signal that you value the information shared and are actively engaged in the conversation. 

After the Interview 

Now, here’s where you leave a lasting impression! As the interview wraps up, show gratitude for the opportunity and let that enthusiasm shine as you restate your interest in the job and the company. And if you don’t have their contact information, request it. 

Then, within 24-48 hours, send them a thoughtful thank-you email. This is your chance to thank them for their time and for all the insights they shared during the interview. Reiterate your enthusiasm for the role and share specific details you found interesting. (Even if you’re not interested in the role, send a thank-you note to let them know you appreciated their time. People know people and may share your information with another hiring manager.) This is how you keep that professionalism and passion for the role on full display! 

Related Reading: Signature Moves: 4 Tips to Craft the Perfect Email Signature 


Whether you’re a wordsmith, a design virtuoso, a code sorcerer, a marketing maestro, or any other creative genius looking for employment opportunities, Portfolio Creative has got your back. 

We’ve built a solid network of clients we’re proud to work with, all with different needs and opportunities. Whether you’re on the hunt for a full-time role, a flexible project, or something in between, we’d love to help you find what’s next. 

Let’s connect and start the conversation. Discover how we can help you find the perfect employment opportunity. Your next dazzling career move is just a call away! 


1 “Enthusiasm and Attitude.” U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, Accessed 19 Oct. 2023,