Questions to Ask in a Job Interview: Top 10
Many job seekers think that an interview is all about answering questions that are asked of them. But it’s important to remember that, just as the job interview is the organization’s opportunity to figure out whether you’re a good fit for them, it’s also your opportunity to figure out if the organization is a good fit for you. Furthermore, the questions you ask (as well as the lack thereof) can affect the interviewer’s judgment. In fact, interviewers expect candidates to ask questions – and asking the right ones shows that you’re serious about wanting the role. Remember, it is expected that part of preparing for an interview includes researching the organization, so don’t ask questions that can be answered with a quick Google search or by checking out their website. With that said, here are the questions to ask in a job interview:
What does “success” look like?
This may seem more obvious for some roles than for others, but it’s always good to ask about what your performance expectations will be within the first year. You can even ask what your predecessor did to succeed in the role (if in fact they were successful).
Is this a new position?
If the position is new, ask the interviewer to elaborate on how it became apparent that the position needed to be created. Doing so will give you some insight into what success will look like (see above), and also whether the role will truly be appreciated. If the role isn’t new, ask what its former occupant has moved onto and what turnover has been like. It may sound invasive, but interviewers will probably be more forthcoming than you think. Besides, it’s important to know how frequently the position has been held and why people left as this knowledge may give you a valuable peek at the organization’s true corporate culture.
What is the career trajectory for the role?
Whether you have ambitions to move up quickly or not, it’s usually good to ask what the next step up would be because it suggests you intend to stay in the organization for some time should you get the job, and it indicates that you have drive and therefore intend to do your best. If they have trouble answering, particularly if the role is new (see number 2), you may have to ponder whether the role is a secure one.
What are the most important skills someone can bring to the role?
This may be obvious from the job posting – or not. Just how many qualifications and required skills are on the posting? If there’s a great deal, and particularly if any of it sounds contradictory, there’s no harm in asking the interviewer to boil it down to just three or four so that you can speak to those specifically.
What is your management style? / What is the corporate culture like?
Of course, no hiring manager is going to tell you they’re a tyrannical micromanager. And no one’s going to say, “Our corporate culture? Have you seen Game of Thrones?” So what kind of answers should perk up your ears? The lack of straight answers, for one thing. If they avoid the questions, they many have some inkling that they’re not winning Manager or Workplace of the Year anytime soon. To help evoke the truth, try asking them if they and their cohorts use a top-down or bottom-up approach, or something in between. Your preferences will determine whether their answers are satisfactory to you.
What is your communication style?
How the interviewer answers this question will also provide some insight into their management style and the place’s corporate culture. Specifically, communication style has to do with how frequently and in what tone a manager communicates with his or her subordinates. If they provide an answer that suggests they communicate frequently and assertively, they may be something of a micromanager. If it sounds like they “ask” rather than “tell” people they need something, they may have more of a bottom-up approach to management, while someone who communicates infrequently may be hands off – even too hands off. Any combination is possible and no one style is necessarily bad. Once more, your preference for a communication style is your own, and typically has to do with how you are as a communicator.
How long have you been here and what do you enjoy about working here?
Perhaps one of the most efficient ways to find out about corporate culture is to simply ask the interviewer how long they’ve been with the organization and what they like about working there. If they’ve been there for several years, chances are they have a lot of good things to say – and the fact that they’ve been there for a long time lends credence to what they say. If they’re relatively new, but immediately go into what they like about the organization, that’s also a good sign. If they hesitate, probe a little more, leveraging tip number 5, if you haven’t already.
Do you offer continuing education and professional development opportunities?
Offering continuing education and professional development opportunities shows that the organization believes in the potential of its employees and understands how investing in their careers improves morale and overall performance; all of which is indicative of a desirable corporate culture.
Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
You may meet with various team members throughout the hiring process and be able to form opinions about your potential teammates firsthand. However, it’s important to get others’ impressions of them too in case they see something in them – for better or for worse – that you didn’t.
What are the next steps?
Asking what happens next in the hiring process is perfectly okay and recommended. Doing so is yet another sign that you’re interested in the job.
Preparing for an interview means taking the time and effort to conduct the necessary research on the role and the organization. In the process, you’ll discover exactly what you don’t know, what you can’t find out on your own, and ultimately what questions to ask in a job interview whenever one comes your way.