Good Questions for a Potential Employer

Questions to prepare you for strategic networking

Networking is about making connections with people who you can contact for information and advice. It is an incredibly useful tool that can help you to find out more about potential career choices, and also help you with your job search. The networking questions listed below can also be useful if you want to prepare for Company Dating, A Day With etc.

Once you have the contacts to companies or people it can be difficult to know how they could help you and what you should be asking them. This will probably depend on what stage of your job search you are at. Before you contact them, think about what your objectives are e.g. do you want to understand more about the industry in general? Or are you looking for specific advice about making an application? Check out out nine categories of questions to ask a potential employer below.


1. If you are deciding what sort of career area might be right for you

  • What made you choose this career?
  • What is a typical day at work like for you?
  • What is the biggest reward you get from your job?
  • What is the main reason people leave the job?
  • Can you describe some actual examples of the sort of activities that your job involves?

2. If you are job hunting

  • Are there any particular types of experience or any courses that would be helpful to get into this area?
  • What background experience is useful and how do people typically obtain it?
  • Where and how are vacancies advertised?
  • How did you get into this job?
  • What would you look for on someone’s CV?
  • How competitive is the job market? 

3. If you want to impress employers and show that you really understand the role and the industry

  • What are the most important current issues in this sector?
  • Looking at the next 5 years, what do you think the main challenges facing the industry will be?
  • Who are your major competitors?
  • What would you look for on someone's CV?
  • What advice would you give to someone in my position?

4. If you know your contact well enough that it is appropriate to ask for favours

Make sure you consider this option carefully, as you don't want to risk loosing a potentially helpful person in your network.                                

  • Are there any opportunities for work shadowing / voluntary work with you?
  • Would it be possible to let me know if anything comes up which might be suitable for me?
  • Who else do you think it would be good for me to talk to?

5. Job satisfaction and motivation

  • What made you choose this career?
  • What do you enjoy most and least about your job?
  • What other options did you consider?
  • Why do you do your job?
  • How does the job differ from what you expected?
  • What is the biggest reward you get from your job?
  • What is the main reason why people leave the job?
  • What makes you keen to get to work in the morning?
  • In what way does your job give you a chance to do something worthwhile?
  • Does your job provide an opportunity to develop yourself?

6. Details of the work

  • Can you describe some actual examples of the sort of activities that your job involves?
  • Was there anything that surprised you when you started this job?
  • Can you tell me the things you do on a typical day?
  • If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
  • What were the most important lessons you learnt about the job in the first few weeks?
  • What are the hours like?
  • How do you know you are doing a good job?
  • What is the most important thing you have learnt through doing this job?
  • What skills do you use most often?
  • What makes someone successful in this job?

7. Career progression and development

  • What is the typical career progression in this field?
  • How long would you expect to stay in this job?
  • What sort of jobs do people move on to?
  • How has the job changed in the time you’ve been here?
  • Are there any training or development opportunities?
  • How do you see this job developing in the future?
  • How do you keep up to date with developments in this field?
  • How does one get promoted in this organisation?

8. Colleagues, culture and working environment

  • What proportions of the time are you working on your own or as part of a team?
  • Is there a particular type of person who works in this field?
  • How typical are you of other people working in this role?
  • How supportive are your superiors?
  • How would you describe the organisation culture here and is it the same in other organisations in this field?
  • What sort of person would I have to be to fit in to this environment?
  • What are the facilities and resources like here?

9. The sector

  • What are the most important current issues in this sector that are likely to affect your job?
  • Are there any particular individuals or organisations that I should be aware of?
  • Who are your major competitors?
  • What other organisations do you interact with?
  • What is the staff turnover like?
  • How competitive is the job market?
  • How often do vacancies arise and where do they appear?
  • How secure is the job situation?


Photo: Colourbox