An interview is more than just an opportunity to tell a prospective employer how great you are. The conversation should be a two-way street. The hiring manager is trying to get a good feel for who you are as a person and as an asset to their company. You should also be learning about the job, the company, the team and whether they are able to meet your needs in this next step in your career. Just as your interviewer is coming to the table prepared with a list of questions to get a better understanding of you as a candidate, you need to come prepared with a list of questions to help you understand the company you are looking to join.
Ask What It Takes to Be Successful in the Role
This question is a great one to start off with because it will tell you a lot about what the hiring manager expects from the candidate. It also gives you the opportunity to sell yourself specifically toward their needs and expectations. If the manager says that a successful person in this position needs to be able to achieve results or use specific skills, take the chance to speak to your previous successes relevant to the conversation. Show the interviewer how you are capable of achieving success in similar situations.
Ask About a Typical Day
We recommend candidates ask “what is a typical day like” to get a really good idea of what a job will be like. This helps to open up the conversation between you and an employer about what the responsibilities of the role are, what the schedule will likely be, how the team culture impacts the day-to-day work environment and many other issues that really matter at the end of the day. Even if you don’t know what answer you’re looking for, it’s worth exploring what your interviewer thinks the typical day for someone in this role will be. If it’s clear it’s not for you, now is the time you’ll find out.
Ask About the Team
If you haven’t had the chance to meet your future co-workers, you might be surprised by how much the team culture and attitude might affect your overall impression of the job opportunity. Meeting a supervisor in person is usually expected as part of the interview process. But if you haven’t had the chance to get an impression of the people you will be working with it can be difficult to make a decision. Ask questions about your future co-workers, supervisors, and the overall company culture before you make the final call.
Ask About the Culture
While it might seem fluffy or inconsequential, the truth is that the unique culture of a company can make a huge difference in your success. Ask this question with a critical eye toward listening to the response, because every company will tell you their culture is “great.” Ask them why it’s great. What type of employees thrives in this setting? How is work-life balance achieved? What sorts of opportunities are there for professional development and advancement? How much work is executed collectively vs. independently? How do employees communicate with each other? With supervisors? When do people typically arrive and leave work each day? How is success measured? You want to have a clear understanding of how your role fits into the larger ecosystem, the political landscape, and whether it will serve you to join a company that is at odds with your personal cultural working style.
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