I’ve interviewed hundreds of job candidates in my career, and am often surprised by how many people don’t ask good questions when given the opportunity. Many candidates have no questions, while others use the time to promote themselves.
To me, this is foolish. I believe you should have questions, and lots of them. This job could be where you spend 40 hours a week, or more … or could be the launch pad to your next big career move. So, when it’s your turn to ask the questions, here’s what I think are some of the best to ask in an interview.
1. How will you measure the success of the person in this position?
Essentially, this asks what you need to know about the job. What does it mean to do well in the role? What do you need to achieve for your boss to be pleased with your performance? This question will help you understand the most important aspects of the job, and if those are the components you’re most passionate about.
2. What are the challenges of the role?
This will uncover the ‘details’ you’d never glean from the job description, such as politics, other departments that will impact your role, and budget constraints that could impede your success. Plus, it can create an opening for you to express how you’ve approached similar challenges in the past.
3. Please describe a typical day or week in the job?
This question will help you visualize what you’ll be doing day after day. For example, the job description outlined that the job would consist of admin and marketing work. However, does this mean 80% admin and only 20% marketing? Or, you might find that the part of the job you’re super excited about only comes up once a quarter.
4. What differentiated someone who was good in this role, from someone who were great?
This question goes straight to the heart of what the hiring manager is looking for. Hiring managers aren’t interviewing candidates in the hopes of finding someone who will do an average job; they’re hoping to find someone who will excel at the job. And this question says that you care about the same thing. Sure, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll do extraordinary work, but it makes you sound like someone who’s at least striving for that!
5. How would you describe the culture here?
If the culture is very formal with lots of hierarchy and you thrive in more relaxed environments, this might not be the right match for you. Similarly, if it’s an uber competitive environment and you’re more low-key, it might not be an ideal workplace for you either. This will help you align your personal style with that of the prospective Company.
6. What do you like about working here?
You can learn a lot by the way people respond to this question. People who sincerely love their jobs and the company, will jump at the chance to tell you all the things they like about working there and will usually sound sincere. But … if you get a blank stare or a long silence, consider it a red flag.
The bottom line is that you need to ask the questions you really care about. Spend some time thinking about what you really want to know, and make sure you have those questions answered before you consider the job.