10 Questions to ask in your job interview
If you sit down for a job interview and spend the entire time answering questions, you are immediately put on the back foot. You are reacting, rather than showing initiative. Of course, you are there to be interviewed, but this is not your only job opportunity. Are you someone who would be lucky to land this job. Someone who is desperate to find a position, any position? Or, are you a highly sought after candidate currently assessing your options? Someone who this company would be extremely lucky to have on their team? So, if you are assessing your options, if you are assessing the suitability of this role, the only way to do so is through asking questions. Preparing questions demonstrates a strong level of self-confidence and shows that you are very interested and highly engaged. On the other hand, if you don’t have any questions prepared, it demonstrates that you are uninterested and apathetic about the role, and if you are uninterested in the role, you will surely meet with uninterested employers. Now, while the specific types of questions to ask really depends on the role for which you are applying, let’s consider some questions that you can then repurpose according to your specific situation.
1. How will you measure the success of the person in this position?
A very strong start to the dance. You must clarify exactly what it means to do well in this position, according to the hiring manager. What expectations do they hold for you? You are not seeking the approval or support of others, but at the same time, you should work to clearly understand their vision. Of course, the job description will be laid out in the job posting, but this text is likely old, mostly copied and pasted advertisements used many times before, and the hiring managers opinion of what this role entails may be very different to the job description that you have read. You may find that the job description listed 12 responsibilities, but your success hinges upon just 4 main deliverables.
2. What are some of the challenges you expect this person to face?
Again, you are clarifying what to expect, and this is the type of information never to be found within a job description. Will you be working with difficult people, amidst a very tight budget with little wiggle room, or delving into a new target market? Furthermore, this question offers a platform from which you may describe how you have handled similar challenges in the past. This is an excellent approach as such dialogue may prove very reassuring to the interviewer. This is not a pre-determined sales pitch, but if asking about certain challenges leads to a genuine understanding of how you can help this business, based upon evidence from your past successes, you will suddenly find yourself in a very powerful position.
3. Can you describe a typical day on the job?
Through this question, you will clarify where and how the majority of your time will be spent. You might discover that the one aspect of the job that you were very excited about is, in actual fact, only a very small part of what you will be doing. This information will help you to visualise your experience on a day-to-day basis. Don’t allow the hiring manager to tell you that every day is different. You want details. So, if he or she tries this approach, go back with – 'Sure, and can you tell me what the last month looked like for the person in this role, what took up most of their time?' If the hiring manager cannot provide you with the details that you are looking for here, you are likely dealing with an unorganised, and unworthy, employer.
4. How long did the previous person remain in the role?
If a company is experiencing a high turnover rate, pull out another red flag. It could suggest difficult managers, unrealistic expectations, a poor internal culture, or limited training and growth opportunities for their employees. There is, of course, a natural turnover rate for every business, but if you discover a pattern of people leaving on a regular basis, this is likely a very bad sign.
5. What learning & development opportunities does your company offer?
It was Jim Rohn who said that the most important question to ask yourself within a role is not what am I getting here, but what am I becoming here? If a business does not invest in their staff, we would suggest that you continue your search. The marketplace today is changing at an ever increasing pace, and the only way to manage this change effectively, is to grow with it. Some organisations place a great deal of importance on their learning and development efforts, while others fall behind what is needed for their employees. A good program might include things like in-house training programs, guest speakers, educational conferences, funds allocated to pay for a staff members further education, and opportunities to work across other areas of the business so that you might better understand the smaller aspects that make up the larger whole.
6. Looking back on the people you have seen in this role , what separated the ones who were highly successful from those that were mediocre?
Hiring managers are searching for candidates who will thrive in this role, not for those happy with maintaining the mediocrity to be found everywhere in the marketplace. This extremely powerful question suggests your intent on reaching exceptional levels of productivity. In many ways, this is exactly what they hiring manager wants to hear – someone who cares about the same things that he or she does. Someone who is on the same page. Someone who understands the importance of giving their vest best effort in all that they do. This question in no way guarantees excellent work, but it shows that you are at least aiming for it. Moreover, the answer to this question will help you better understand just what it will take to truly thrive in this role.
7. How would you describe the culture here?
This is a common question that almost every job seeker will ask in a job interview, and one that the hiring manager is likely very comfortable answering. Every interviewer will, of course, answer this question very positively, responding with something like – 'The culture is great here, really nice people, excellent social scene.' These answers sound great, but they are very broad. Again, we suggest that you continually dig for the details. Is it a business with a formal hierarchy, or does it function with a flatter structure? Is it a highly competitive environment in which everyone competes against one another, or is it a team based atmosphere within which all individuals work together, towards one common goal? Seek to understand what you are walking into, and never accept broad answers.
8. What do you like about working here?
The answer given here could prove to be quite illuminating. It will likely explain a great deal about the company. What makes this person enjoy coming to work each day, and are these the very same reasons that would make you happy to do the same? The person who genuinely enjoys his or her job will have a great deal of really nice things to say about the company, and it should be quite easy to determine their level of sincerity as they answer the question. If you receive a blank stare, or if you are told that the money is good, but that’s about it, consider your priorities and whether or not they align with this specific opportunity.
9. How does the rest of the organisation view this team?
A team’s internal reputation is very important. How is the team that you will be joining, viewed by others within the business? What role do they play as a part of the larger whole? Through this answer, you will gain a much clearer understanding of the challenges that you will face within this organisation. Will your work be respected and listed to, and will progressing a new idea be a smooth process or a convoluted one? Furthermore, you should be able to glimpse the level of collaboration present within the company, through this answer.
10. Is there anything else that you might be concerned about that I can address for you?
Leave this question for the very end of the job interview, but be sure to ask it. You don’t want to leave with something left unsaid, or with any doubt contaminating the hiring manager’s mind as to the necessity of having you begin immediately. This question can be the difference between receiving an awkward rejection email and being offered the role. Here, you are offering the hiring manager a direct opportunity to discuss any problems still looming. You might have the ability to solve them right away, clearing the air, and ensuring that these concerns do not remain. At the very least, you will become aware of possible obstacles, and the more information you can gather, the stronger your position will be.
If not, consider the next steps, and move into a logistical discussion. Such a question will help you determine when you might expect follow up contact. If you don’t ask this question, within 72-hours, your mind will begin to torment you, questioning whether or not you should have heard back by now, and what it means that you haven’t, which will lead to you obsessively checking your phone in search of notifications. Don’t do it to yourself. If you cannot expect to hear anything for several weeks, your mind, and your quality of life, will thank you sincerely. Maybe this company operates with a very long hiring process. Maybe the interviewer is going away for 3-weeks. Maybe an important project must be finished before giving the necessary attention to finalising this hiring process. While these situations are unlikely, and while you should certainly hear back within a period of 1-week, the point remains that it only helps to know, so just ask. Additionally, this question means that you can freely check in with the employer should this timeline pass with no contact. If so, you can very fairly and reasonably reach out for an update.