Sun, 11 Aug, 2019
When you go in for an interview, you’re probably thinking of answering questions and not of asking them. But, to become the best candidate you can be, you need to be doing both.
So, before you rehearse your curated answers to all possible interview questions (and even the seemingly impossible—like Trader Joe’s ‘What do you think of garden gnomes?’), take a deep breath. You’ll need to practice and strategise to ask your own questions as well.
We’ve made it easy:
The 10 best questions to ask your interviewer
Oh, how the tables have turned! Your interviewer has popped the question— ‘Is there anything you would like to ask?’
Now is your time to shine. The purpose of asking your interviewer these questions is double. On one hand, you’ll make an impression: it’s always memorable when a candidate seems engaged in the conversation and interested in the position. On the other hand, you actually do need to find out if the company is a good fit for your career, your values, and your ambitions.
What questions will you ask when it’s time to take control? These 10 are our expert’s collected best choices.
Of course, you can choose, mix and match— 10 questions in a row might be a little too much…
1. Why is this position open?
The answer to this key question can be either ‘It’s a new role’ or ‘We’re replacing another employee who was in the role before’.
In the first case, you now know that the organisation is most likely in a phase of growth and, possibly, just a little chaos. You should ask about the power structure, responsibilities, and interactions of the role with other parts of the company.
If the second option is true, you’ll have to figure out why they need to replace an employee. Were they promoted? You might have a good chance for growth within the company. Did they choose to leave? Make sure you know about any looming challenges like team troubles or impossible goals.
2. What are the key responsibilities of this position?
Don’t just trust the job description you read. Ask your interviewer to state the responsibilities the open role is linked to. Clarity never hurt anyone!
3. What are the most challenging areas this role needs to tackle?
Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes— would you rather talk to a candidate who’s apathetic or one who seems to really care about the job?
Asking this question serves two purposes:
Shows the interviewer that you are serious about your interest and that you can be a problem-solving asset to the company.
Lets you know what skills will be most important to start tackling problems right away, also giving you the chance to show your know-how by proposing practical solutions.
4. How would you define success in this position?
No one wants to do a poor job— but few people realise they should be laying down the definition of success as early as your first interview.
Ask the interviewer to explain how success in the open role is measured. Maybe it’s weekly or monthly goals and quotas, maybe client ratings or performance reviews. Does your success definition and performance style match your potential employer’s?
5. Could you describe the team’s culture?
The best teams are the ones that share a collective ethos, a set of values and expectations, a culture. Nowadays, companies care about building teams that won’t be riddled with constant conflict.
And you should care too— it determines whether you’ll be comfortable in your role and whether you’ll feel like part of the business. Plus, it sends a clear message: you know it’s important to have a common mission and work style, making you a solid candidate.
6. Could you walk me through a typical daily routine for this role?
While understanding the general role responsibilities and company culture is important, it’s not more relevant than asking about the day-to-day details of the job. Interactions with other areas, repeated tasks, dynamic, immediate team— these can make or break your happiness in the position, so remember to investigate.
7. Where is this position located within the power structure?
To avoid any faux pas like accidentally overriding your manager’s decisions, it’s a good idea to ask about the company’s management structure (especially if the position is new). Who is your direct manager? Who do they respond to? Maybe even draw a diagram (or don’t).
8. Is training for this position offered? What kind?
You want to know what this job will offer you in terms of skill development. Are you expected to go in knowing everything? Will they offer active, on-the-job training, a course, or longer-term education benefits? What’s their track record with mentorships?
9. Do you think this role will grow in the future? How?
Think about this position as one lone step in your career— no matter how much you like the company, it’s not the end-all, be-all! Unless you already know you don’t want to stay in one spot for long, knowing what to work for can be helpful.
Have they already promoted other people in this role or team? What about the rest of the organisation? The interviewer will likely take note of how enthusiastic and proactive you are.
10. How do I stack up against other candidates? How can I improve?
Get over the discomfort of asking and pop the question. Really— you’ll have a clear picture of what to expect, you might be able to further explain anything your interviewer didn’t get, and you’ll be showing them you are an honest, outspoken professional. Besides, even if you don’t get the job, direct interviewer feedback will help you the next time.
There’s no reason to fear the moment when your interviewer asks for your questions. Think of it as a chance to find out if the role really fits you and (yes!) to dazzle them with your insight. Perhaps, even an exercise in knowing what you want and working for it with openness. Be bold!
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