In case you missed my last post, When It’s Finally Time To Find A New Job, I am plowing full speed ahead in job search mode. As part of my own interview prep, I’ve put together a list of questions to ask during an interview to help those of you who are also on the job hunt. When it comes to interviewing, the more prep the better!
Having been at my current company for way too long, I’ve interviewed over 400 candidates for jobs as people came and left. I’m a bit off my game now that I’m the one actively looking for work since I’ve been on the other side of the interviewing table for so long. It’s much easier being the one asking the hard questions than having to answer them! But I’m hopefull things will work out for me with persistence and patience. I certainly know a lot of job interview tips having seen just about everything.
As An Interviewee You Get To Ask Questions Too
A lot of newbies to the job search process overlook the importance of preparing questions to ask during an interview. They are so focused on preparing their resume, figuring out what to wear, and getting to the job site on time that they forget to prepare a list of questions to ask the hiring manager.
If you don’t have any questions prepared, you’re going to feel really awkward and caught off guard when the interviewer asks if you have any questions for him/her. Read through this list and write down your favorites to take with you.
Job Specific Questions
Job specific questions are the most important questions to ask during an interview. You want to demonstrate an interest in the specific role at hand, and you want to understand as best as possible what you will be doing. Make sure you do your homework first. It drives me crazy when candidates come in and haven’t read the job description for the position they’re interviewing for. It happens way too often.
Show that you’ve put time and effort into researching the role and ask specific task related questions. Don’t skim through the job spec for the first time in the interview to find something to ask about (yes I’ve actually had people do that before, which is super annoying and disrespectful). Prepare in advance! Here’s a sample of job specific questions to ask during an interview.
- Can you tell me a little bit more about what xyz job description task involves and at what frequency?
- What are the top priorities of this role over the next three months?
- What are some typical challenges that new hires face in this role?
- How long was the previous person in this role?
- How has this role changed over the last few years?
- What are the most important aspects of this job?
It’s helpful to get an understanding of what the manager’s expectations are of the role he/she is trying to fill. Use this opportunity to highlight your strengths in the areas where he/she needs the most help. It’s also useful to know how your performance will be measured in order to succeed. If the manager doesn’t give a clear answer, or if the previous employee was stuck in the same role for a long time, take heed of these warning signs that career development could be limited at the company.
- What is the largest problem facing your team, and will this role help resolve it?
- How could I exceed your expectations in this role?
- What is the average career track for a person in this position?
- What accomplishments would an ideal candidate achieve in the first year?
- Is there a formal performance review process?
- How and at what frequency is performance measured?
- What improvements would you like the selected candidate to make?
- What actions and strengths have enabled prior employees in this position to succeed?
- What are the top three personality traits your ideal candidate needs to succeed?
Big Picture Questions
Research the company before your interview and familiarize yourself with the brand, service offerings, products, and news. After demonstrating your knowledge of the company, you can gain further insights by asking questions like the below.
- What are the company’s most important assets and do you see that changing in the future?
- What are some of the firm’s current initiatives that you’re most excited about?
- How does this department fit into the overall structure of the firm?
- What are the strengths in the team right now?
Culture And Philosophy Questions
Corporate culture is really important to finding the right fit. You may get entirely different opinions from former employees and people you ask at the same firm, but it’s always helpful to hear things from the hiring manager’s point of view.
- What brought you to the company and what are your favorite parts of working here?
- What is your take on the culture here?
- What distinguishes this company from its competitors for employees and the public?
- What is the team dynamic like?
- How would you describe your management style?
- What is the leadership philosophy here?
- What are some of the things that excite you about coming into work?
As someone who has interviewed and hired a lot of people in my career, I can tell you that finding the right fit is never a guarantee. Some people interview incredibly well and do terrible on the job or vise versa. Just understand that experienced hiring managers will always have some reservations even for super qualified candidates. Sometimes it’s personality concerns, other times it’s technical skills or commuting distance, or a mixture of several different things.
Give yourself a chance to address his/her concerns in person. Even if their hesitations are totally legitimate for something you can’t change, it’s nice to know sooner rather than later. And before you walk out, it’s helpful to get an idea of how far along the company is in the hiring process, especially if you’re juggling multiple offers and are tight on time.
- Do you have any concerns or hesitations about my qualifications?
- What is the timeline for the next steps in the interview process?
5 Quick Tips For Asking Questions In An Interview
Do your best to relax and be yourself. It’s totally normal to get butterflies and feel nervous. However, the more you prepare, the higher your confidence will be and the better your interview will go. Keep these tips in mind:
- Prepare your questions in advance of the interview. It’s very easy for the interviewer to tell if you’ve done your homework or not. Unprepared candidates quickly get the boot.
- Stick to 3-5 questions, depending on how the interview is going. Even though this post lists a lot of questions, they aren’t intended to all be used in one sitting. Remember you’ll have opportunities to ask more questions if you get past the first round, so don’t ask a giant list of questions all at once. If you’re fumbling a lot and not getting a good vibe, it’s best to only ask a couple questions. You don’t want to risk annoying the interviewer and getting yourself struck from the list.
- Try to throw in some relevant questions in between giving answers to keep the meeting more like a dialog instead of a one man show. That’s the best way to get in more questions than saving a ton for the end. Just remember to save a couple questions for the very end.
- Hold off on asking questions about benefits and compensation until after making it through the first or second rounds of interviews. It’s pretty inappropriate to ask about money right from the get go.
- Be respectful of your interviewer’s time. If they start looking at their watch, prepare to wrap things up so they won’t be late to their next meeting.
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