“So, do you have any questions for me?”
Some of you might breathe a sigh of relief when you hear these words.
But you’re not done yet!
Don’t forget the interview is a two-way street. Throughout the recruitment process, you should evaluate the company, position, and management as much as they evaluate you.
Working for a bad boss, in a bad position, with a bad company is not where you want to end up after a gruelling job hunt. Keep both eyes open, listen to your gut, and ask some real questions during the interview.
What you should ask during the interview depends on what’s important to you and how much time you have. Listen carefully to the answers to find out where you need to dig a little deeper with some followup questions.
Here are a few examples of great questions that tell you more about the role and the company.
Questions about the nature of the role
Yes, there’s a job description, but we all know that doesn’t tell you much about the actual job. Your definition of “diverse projects” could be very different from theirs. More times than not, the job description doesn’t exactly reflect what the person in the role will do.
Ask for specific examples of work/projects, so you can paint your own picture of the role. You might learn the task that really excited you is only a once-in-a-while thing. Or that you’ll be working on your own, when you were excited to work with a team.
Here are a few questions that can help you get to the root of the role:
- What are the biggest challenges in the role?
- What kind of projects has the person in this role worked on over the last year?
- What projects would the person in the role take on in their first year?
- How much would I work with X vs. Y?
- Who would I be working most closely with? Can you tell me about the team?
Questions about the Company/Strategy
Knowing where the company stands in the market is critical, especially if you’re applying for a role in a growing firm. It’s particularly relevant if you’re in a business development role or if the job is with a startup.
Here are some questions you can ask to get a better sense of the company and strategy:
- How does the company stand out from its competitors?
- How would you describe your position in the market?
- How does the company plan to grow/expand?
As a bonus, you’ll sound engaged in the company’s future and interested in growing with the firm.
Questions about Management
There’s a famous saying, “People leave managers, not companies”. While I wouldn’t say that’s always true, I think we can all agree that management matters.
Your direct manager, the structure of your role, and the management culture of the company have a massive impact on job satisfaction and your performance.
Unfortunately, this one might be the toughest to figure out from the outside.
If you’re interviewing with a big company, you can check websites like Glassdoor for employee reviews. You should take these reviews with a grain of salt, but it can be a good starting point.
Your best bet is to check with your network to get the inside scoop, but there’s no reason you can’t ask about it during the interview.
Here are a couple of questions you can ask to get a better idea of the management culture:
- How is performance reviewed and measured?
- How would you describe your management style?
Other Useful Questions to Ask
There are a couple questions I always ask because they tell you a lot about the role and the company.
The first: Is this a new position or would I be replacing someone?
I think this is a great question because it tells you a lot about the position.
If they’re hiring for a new position, then you’ll have a big role in shaping the job. With some follow-up questions you can ensure they have a vision for the role and how you would fit into the organization.
The second: How long have people typically stayed in the role and where did they go/what did they do after?
I personally think this question is the most important one you can ask.
It’s a great indicator of two things. It tells you how happy the previous person was in the role, and it also shows you the kind of opportunities you might have as a next step.
If the person in the role transferred to a more senior position within the company, that demonstrates career progression opportunities within the firm. If the person left the company for a lateral move, you might be dealing with a lack of progression within the firm and possibly some other issues with management. Time to dig deeper.
Overall, it’s important to use your question time wisely. Ask the important questions that help you learn more about the role and the company
You’ll have to read between the lines a bit, but don’t be afraid to ask followup questions if a red flag pops up.
The goal is to make an informed decision when you accept the job. Make sure this job is a step in the right direction for your career.