Your recruiter has told you that you need to have questions ready to ask your interviewer at the end of your upcoming interview. So as long as you have one or two questions ready to ask, you’re good, right? Not exactly. Not all questions are created equal. And if you’re planning on asking about benefits, vacation time, work/life balance and the hours of the job, you’re not going to be asking the right things. You want to ask questions that show you’re excited about the job, the organization, and want to understand how you can best bring value to the organization. Here are seven questions you should plan to ask during every interview.
1.What is the most critical responsibility of this position?
Your interviewer should spend a significant part of the interview asking you questions to determine how your current skills align with the role. However, oftentimes interviewers will skip over what the job actually entails. They’ll detail some responsibilities, but may not explain how the role fits into the organization or why it’s so important. This question directly asks them to get at why the role is needed. You’ll also then get a feeling for what your future boss will deem most important for you to get accomplished each week.
2.What do you do to help spread the company’s mission?
You should have read the company’s mission statement or promise to its customers on its web site. However, the mission of an organization is generally contributed to in different ways depending on the department or business unit of the organization. Your interviewer should answer this question with something like, “Without my team, we wouldn’t be able to understand what our most profitable products are, and couldn’t determine what future products we should develop, or how to build upon our best offerings.” This aligns with your previous question of what is most important about the role you’re interviewing for because it should reinforce what your priorities would be in this role and how it fits into contributing to the company’s reason for doing business.
3.What sort of career path do people in this role have at the company?
Not only does this make it sound like you’re wanting to be there for the long haul, it also gives you an idea of further opportunities available. So you can judge the role not only for how it will add to your skillset now, but other experience you may be able to gain when you’re promoted or show interest in another area.
4.Does the company provide mentorship opportunities?
Again, this makes you sound like you’re thinking about the big picture. It’s also showing that if the company is willing to invest in you and give you access to leaders within the organization that you’re willing to take your time to learn from people who are shining stars. You are giving the impression that you’re wanting to go the extra mile, not just show up at 8 and leave no later than 5:01pm.
5.What does your training program look like for this role?
Training can be a dealbreaker. If your interviewer answers this question with hesitation or something like, “We don’t really know yet,” you need to ask follow up questions to understand why there’s no plan. Training is part of what will set a new hire up for success. You’ll hopefully get to understand the basics of the role after training, then take what you’ve learned and apply your natural talent and creativity to reach goals and objectives. Understanding what sort of training you’ll be receiving will help you understand if this role is new and undefined, or a role that has been in place for some time with robust training. If it’s a new role, you’ll want to be okay with a greater likelihood of working through change, ambiguous responsibilities, and evolution of the role. Meaning, if you don’t do well with change, this might not be the role for you. It’s better to know that in an interview versus accepting an offer and quitting within the first two weeks because you’re stressed out by all the uncertainty.
6.What is the company culture like? -If they’ve recently won any awards for anything workplace related, you’ll want to bring that up here.
“Culture” means a lot of different things to a lot of people. But what your interviewer tells you will likely give you an idea about what the employees at the organization value, and insight into work styles and norms. If they say everyone eats lunch at their desk because a lot of them have small kids to pick up at daycare, you likely won’t be attending impromptu team happy hours or spend a ton of time with co-workers outside of the office. If your interviewer says they love to take part in the daily yoga class that’s offered, and lunch is brought in once a week, the culture is likely a little more relaxed, and they may take work home at night to make sure everything gets done. Ask the culture question so you understand what’s important to the people who may become your new colleagues.
7.Are there any ways that employees are recognized beyond promotions?
This will allow the interviewer to tell you a little more about their culture without delving into a ton of details. Read between the lines here to understand if yearly reviews are really important and an indicator of how you’re doing, or if there are weekly team meetings where people are recognized, or if there’s a company wide meeting each quarter where the health of the company and growth are discussed. Your interviewer will also likely mention if there’s a bonus policy at this point, or other ways that are unique to the company for rewarding excellent performance.
So after reading about these seven questions, can you see why they’re better than asking about the vacation policy, parking options, and benefits? All questions are not created equal. These seven demonstrate that you are interested in the job, the company, and understand that you need to bring value to the company and it’s not just about what the company can do for you. You may not have the time to get all seven answered in your first interview, but keep the list and ask when appropriate, and you’ll be seven steps closer to understanding the company beyond the job description.