Best questions to ask the interviewer
Who would I be reporting to? Can you provide an org chart?
It’s important to ask about the organization in case you have several bosses. If you’re going to be working for several people, you need to know “the lay of the internal land,” or if you’re going to be over several people, then you probably want to get to know them before accepting the position.
What are you most important values?
This question typically highlights many things, including diversity, and provides a glimpse into their culture and helps the candidate get a better feel for whether their values match the company, says Lee-Anne Farley, Global HR operations leader at Glassdoor. While this is admittedly a less direct question, it makes it more likely that you’ll get a straight answer about whether or not they value diversity. Because what an interviewer does or doesn’t say can speak volumes.
Describe the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?
This question is a quick way to figure out whether your skills align with what the company is currently looking for. If they don’t match up, then you know to walk away instead of wasting time pursuing the wrong position for yourself, she says.
How important is diversity and what value does it bring?
Every organization should have an idea of their business case for diversity and inclusion and should also be able to articulate that. If they don’t have a stated business case, ask if they have any knowledge of how diversity has contributed to the bottom line. Companies that are aware of the concrete benefits diversity provides are much more likely to promote it.
How would you describe the company’s culture?
This question gives you a broad view of the corporate philosophy of a company and on whether it prioritizes employee happiness.
Who do you consider your major competitors? What is your differentiator?
This question is not for the faint of heart, but it shows that you are already thinking about how you can help the company rise to meet some of its bigger goals.
What are the hard/soft skills and competencies you are seeking of the ideal candidate for this position?
This basically gives you a blueprint of what they’re looking for and will help you to prepare for a follow-up interview.
Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
While this question puts you in a vulnerable position, it shows that you are confident enough to openly bring up and discuss your weaknesses with your potential employer.
What do you like most about working for this company?
This question is important because it lets you “create a sense of camaraderie” with the interviewer because “interviewers — like anyone — usually like to talk about themselves and especially things they know well.” Plus, this question gives you a chance to get an insider’s view on the best parts about working for this company.
What is the usual timeline for the interview process and subsequent job offer?
Any opportunity to learn the timeline for a hire is crucial information for you. Asking about an “offer” rather than a “decision” will give you a better sense of the timeline because “decision” is a broad term, while an “offer” refers to the point when they’re ready to hand over the contract.
What are the challenges of this position?
If the interviewer says, “There aren’t any,” you should proceed with caution.
What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
The main point of this question is to get your interviewer to reveal how the company measures success.
If you were to hire me, what might I expect in a typical day?
Obviously, this shows your eagerness about the position. It also gives you a better idea about what the job will be like on a daily basis, so you can decide whether you really want to pursue it. “A frank conversation about position expectations and responsibilities will ensure not only that this is a job you want, but also one that you have the skills to be successful in.
What type of employee tends to succeed here? What qualities are the most important for doing well and advancing?
This question shows the interviewer that you care about your future at the company, and it will also help you decide if you’re a good fit for the position. “Once the interviewer tells you what she’s looking for in a candidate, picture that person in your mind’s eye,”. “She or he should look a lot like you.”
Is there anyone else I need to meet with? /Is there anyone else you would like me to meet with?
Knowing if they want you to meet with potential coworkers or not will give you insight into how much the company values building team synergy. In addition, if the interviewer says you have four more interviews to go, then you’ve gained a better sense of the hiring timeline as well.
What type of training, coaching, or continued education is available to help your team grow professionally?
Does the company offer internal or external resources for continued education?
Will I have an opportunity to meet those who would be part of my staff/my manager during the interview process?
Getting the chance to meet with potential teammates or managers is essential to any professional interview process. If they don’t give that chance, proceed with caution. Also important to determine whether there is a potential “fit”.
How do you evaluate success here?
Knowing how a company measures its employees’ success is important. It will help you understand what it would take to advance in your career there — and can help you decide if the employer’s values align with your own.
What are some of the problems your company faces right now? And what is your department doing to solve them?
Asking about problems within a company gets the “conversation ball” rolling, and your interviewer will surely have an opinion. Further, their answers will give you insights into their personality and ambitions and will likely lead to other questions.
What’s your timeline for making a decision, and when can I expect to hear back from you?
This one tells them you’re interested in the role and eager to hear their decision.
Knowing a company’s timeline should be your ultimate goal during an interview process after determining your fit for the position and whether you like the company’s culture. It will help you determine how and when to follow up, and how long to wait before “moving on.”
Is this a new position? If not, why did the person before me leave this role?
This might be uncomfortable to ask, but it’s not uncommon to ask and that it shows you are being smart and analytical by wanting to know why someone may have been unhappy in this role previously. If you found out they left the role because they were promoted, that’s also useful information.
Where do you see the company in three years and how would the person in this role contribute to this vision?
Asking this question will show your interviewer that you can think big picture, that you’re wanting to stay with the company long-term, and that you want to make a lasting impression in whatever company you end up in.
What’s your staff turnover rate and what are you doing to reduce it?
While this question may seem forward, it’s a smart question to ask because it shows that you understand the importance of landing a secure position. It is a black and white way to get to the heart of what kind of company this is and if people like to work here.
Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?
This simple question is polite to ask, and it can give you peace of mind to know that you’ve covered all your bases. “It shows enthusiasm and eagerness but with polish.”
Is there anything we haven’t covered that you think is important to know about working here?
This is a good wrap-up question that gives you a break from doing all the talking. In addition, you may get “answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask but are important.”
What’s the next step
This is all-encompassing, really nailing down how their process will move forward.
Thomas Wharton is President of LIFOCUS CAREER SERVICES an Executive Coaching and Career Coaching firm in Rhode Island, providing Career & Transition Coaching, Outplacement, Executive Coaching, and Assessments. Tom can be reached at 401.884.7959 • firstname.lastname@example.org. • www.lifocus.com •@careercoachTW