Open-Ended Questions in Interviews

open-ended questions in interviews: why they’re important & what to ask

chris bourchard, Talent shareholder


If you’re a job seeker who’s just secured an interview with a prospective employer, you undoubtedly want to make the best impression possible. However, amidst the preparation you’re going to do, it’s important to remember that an interview is a two-way street. In other words, not only are you being interviewed for the job, but this is also an opportunity for you to “interview” the employer and see if the company would be a good fit for you.

With that in mind, it’s vital that you ask your interviewer open-ended questions before you take your leave. This article will discuss what type of open-ended questions you should ask, when you should ask them, and why they’re so beneficial.


When should you ask open-ended questions?

While the format of the interview may allow you to ask open-ended questions throughout the allotted time, in general, it is best to ask such questions at the end. In fact, at that time, the interviewer may even ask you: “Do you have any questions for me?”

Waiting until the right moment to ask your open-ended questions shows respect for the interviewer’s time and demonstrates a certain level of consideration and emotional intelligence. Therefore, it is imperative that you discern when it would be appropriate to direct the course of the conversation and when you should refrain.


What type of open-ended questions should you ask?

The exact questions you ask will depend on various factors, such as the nature of the position, your current circumstances, your personal and professional goals, etc. However, one of your basic objectives when asking open-ended questions is to gain deeper insight into the company, and especially your potential role in the organization. With that in mind, some good questions to ask may include:

  • How would you describe the culture of the company? What are some examples of that culture in action?
  • For someone who has never worked in this role for this company, what will be the biggest challenge they face in the first six months? Why do you say that? In your opinion, what are some ways that the challenge could be overcome?
  • For the person who is fortunate enough to get this role, what does their career path look like in the next five years?
  • What is it about this company that you personally appreciate? What are some areas in which you personally would like to see improvement?

Of course, no matter what questions you ask, make sure they are tasteful and that you word them as tactfully as possible. 


Why are open-ended questions beneficial?

There are several reasons why open-ended questions are beneficial, both for you and the person interviewing you. While the following is by no means a comprehensive list, here are just a few key advantages that asking open-ended questions can offer:

1. They provide deeper insight into the company. 

Yes/no questions can only go so far in helping you form a realistic picture of what it would be like to work for the company. In contrast, open-ended questions allow you to gain deeper insight into an organization’s inner workings. Interestingly, even if your interviewer seems somewhat reluctant when answering your questions, that could in itself indicate something about the company’s culture.

2. They help candidates to make better-informed decisions. 

What if your open-ended questions reveal something that troubles you about the role, culture, or company? For example, what if you came into the interview expecting that the job would offer more work/life balance than it actually does? In such a scenario, you should be thankful that you asked those open-ended questions now instead of receiving an unpleasant surprise later. Armed with such knowledge, you can make an informed decision about whether to accept a job offer from the company or not.

3. They help the interviewer gauge the level of the candidate’s seriousness.

When you ask thoughtful, detailed questions, you’re signaling to the interviewer that you’re serious about the position (and are likely looking for a long-term career move).

4. They help form a personal connection between interviewer and interviewee. 

Interviewers meet scores of new people on a regular basis, and it can be easy for them to forget. However, asking those open-ended questions will leave a deeper impression on the interviewer and contribute to a nice rapport with them. Ultimately, that could even mean the difference between landing the job or not!

In conclusion, asking the right kind of open-ended questions in a job interview, at the right time, and in the right manner can go a long way towards securing you the role! If you’d like to learn more about how to ace a job interview, contact our team at Lutz Talent today. You can also view and apply for our current opportunities here.





Chris Bouchard is the Talent Shareholder at Lutz with over 16 years of staffing and recruiting experience. He focuses on direct-hire and temporary staffing and strategic assessment and selection of potential candidates with an emphasis on human resources, accounting, finance, and office administrative positions.

  • Recruiting and Search Services
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  • Association for Corporate Growth, Member
  • Financial Executives International, Member
  • BS, Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, MO
  • Habitat for Humanity, Volunteer
  • Together Inc., Volunteer
  • Nebraska Humane Society, Volunteer


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