13 Questions to Ask During Your Pandemic Job Interview

Landing a job interview can feel like a feat in itself. One of the parts I enjoy least about the process is the old, "So, what questions do you have for ME?" portion that typically comes at the end.

When I was in the thick of interviewing back in 2014 and burned out from in-person meetings that went nowhere, I came up with a few choice questions I wanted to ask. But mainly, I found myself fighting the temptation to say, "Nah, man, I'm good!" — especially when it came to the jobs that didn't really seem like a great fit.

During the past year when I interviewed via Zoom, my top questions shifted toward: 

"Can you move your laptop closer to your bookshelves? Is that A Gentleman in Moscow? I want to read that!"

"Where'd your cat go?"

"Are we cool if I start a Slack channel devoted to Real Housewives' discourse?"


"How many more hoops will you make me jump through before you tell me you've decided to go with a 'more qualified candidate?'"

But joking aside, when someone asks really smart questions it not only sets them apart from other applicants, it also allows them to gather information that may help them decide if they really want the job. 

Recently, a connection reached out about an opening at my company. We chatted by phone and she blew me away with the well-informed questions she'd prepared, and I thought about how if I were hiring for that role, I'd have been impressed.

So, when Marc Cenedella, CEO of the career website Ladders, Inc., shared 13 questions to ask during your pandemic job interview, I knew I wanted to pass them along:

  1. What are the plans for “back to normal?” (You can dig deeper by asking, What will normal look like? How are you thinking about time in-office vs. flex vs. remote for the workforce?) 

  2. How has work-from-home impacted your team’s productivity? (Consider adding, During COVID, what’s been the best boost for your team productivity and morale?)

  3. What’s one thing that’s key to this company’s success that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know?

  4. What’s your (or my future boss’) leadership style?  

  5. What are the three things I can contribute in the first 100 days to make you feel great about hiring me?

  6. Which competitor worries you the most? Is it their strategy, execution, market size, or something else?

  7. Why did you decide to hire for this position instead of the many other roles you could have hired for? What about this position made you prioritize it over others?

  8. If I get the job, what does great performance look like?  What are the key accomplishments you’d like to see in this role over the next year? 

  9. How open is the company with information? What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)? 

  10. If we are going to have a very successful year in 2022, what will that look like? How does this position help achieve those goals? (This question is a surprisingly easy way to come across as somebody who is always looking ahead.)

  11. How does the company do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process?

  12. What is the rhythm to the work around here? Is there a time of year that it’s “all hands on deck” and we’re pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year?

  13. Is this a new position, or an existing position? If new, why was it created and what are the expectations?

    Additional Job Interview Notes:

    When asking these questions, it’s vital to make sure you’re engaging in a conversation rather than checking off a list. 

    Cenedella noted, “As with all interview interactions, you want to come across as inviting a conversation, not as a know-it-all with ‘gotcha’ questions.”

    Cenedella suggests an excellent way to make sure a potential employer is a great match for you is to pick the questions in which you’re the most interested and ask every single one of your interviewers the same questions. 

    “You can even let them know you’re doing this – it shows you’re engaged and prepared,” he said. “Asking the same question across interviewers can be very helpful in sussing out company culture, alignment, and conflict.” 

    You’ll get excellent insights from considering whether each person provides roughly the same answers or if there are big differences between how two groups or two heads of groups respond. 

    Noted! If you have an interview coming up, I wish you the best!

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Unknown said…
Thank you so much for your kind notice of my semi-annual questions!

Ladders Inc
Liz Alterman said…
Hi Marc,

I appreciate you sharing your insight!

Rose said…
Great info! I'll forward this to my husband as well.
Mary James said…
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