“So….do you have any questions for me?”
They’ve asked question after question to see if you’d be a good fit for their organization; now it’s your turn.
Not only does asking your own questions give you opportunity to circle back to any points you may want to revisit, you can use this time to erase any final concerns they may have about hiring you. The questions you ask show your potential employer that you’re not just interested in the job, you’re also prepared to invest in the company. Lastly, asking questions helps you gather the information required to help you decide if this is even a place you want to work.
Go in prepared: coming up with interview questions on the spot can be intimidating. Make note of the queries below and keep them handy for those inevitable mind blanks.
1. What is the single largest problem facing this company / department / team today, and how would I best contribute to solving this problem?
This question not only shows the interviewer you’re a team player and are interested in the company beyond the role you’re applying for, it also sets you up nicely for a recap of your relevant strengths and accomplishments.
2. What is your favourite thing about working for this company?
A great opportunity to get a feel for the workplace culture and overall employee engagement and satisfaction. If they speak about the awesome culture, incredible people and ample opportunities for professional and personal development – these are all good signs. If the best thing they can come up with is Taco Tuesdays, the hiring manager’s a dud—which speaks volumes about company leadership—or there’s not a lot of good going on. This company may not be an ideal fit unless you absolutely live for tacos.
3. What is your least favourite thing about working for this company? What would you change?
You’ll need to assess how important their answer is to you. Are your future managers and colleagues actively engaged and working on improving the problem? Or are they the type to sit back apathetically and just complain. If the latter is more their style, you’ll need to decide for yourself if it’s something you can live with.
4. What is the most important skill the person in this position needs to be successful?
This question perfectly sets you up to recap why you’re the best candidate. Provide additional examples of how you’ve previously leveraged said skill(s) to excel in other roles.
If the skill is not one of your strong suits, use the opportunity to highlight your ability to quickly and easily learn and develop new skills.
5. Tell me about the team I’ll be working with.
Great people go a long way in making a sucky job tolerable, and a good job great. Disliking the people you work with is downright soul-sucking.
Understanding as much as you can about the team structure and the people you’ll interact with on a daily basis will help you decide if this is a place where you can see yourself being engaged and happy.
6. What is your on-boarding process? And what will be my biggest challenge in getting up to speed.
You’re looking to see what kind of support they provide to new employees, both to help you quickly get up to speed in your work tasks, and adjust to the new employee culture. Do they have plans in place to set you up for success, or are you left entirely on your own to find out what you’ll need to know?
7. What opportunities are there for me to grow professionally within this position?
A well-organized company will have invested time in succession planning and continuing education. Smart leaders will recognize their employees as assets and will have a strategy in place to support individual development.
Providing staff with opportunities to develop the skills and experience they need to excel in their current position while preparing them for their next promotion, is in their own best interests.
Limited opportunities to grow within the role and company speak volumes about management priorities, employee satisfaction, and company culture; none of it good. Tread with caution.
8. How does this company define and measure success? How will you define and measure my own success?
Do they use metrics that are within your control, or are you solely judged by how your team or company functions? Team and company goals are critical to any organization’s success, but you should also expect the opportunity to have your own individual contributions be seen and acknowledged.
9. What hesitations do you have about my qualifications and / or my ability to exceed in this role?
A brave question to ask (I mean, who wants to hear about their perceived shortcomings), it places you in a great position to clarify their misgivings or clear up any misunderstandings. Knowing what their hesitations are and addressing them with facts and examples is the best opportunity you have to overcome their objections right on the spot.
10. What are the next steps in your hiring process?
This is a great question to save until the very end. Their answer should give you an idea of what to expect in terms of timing for subsequent interview requests and job offers. Knowing what timelines you’re working with allows you to stop stressing about when you’ll hear back, and gives you the opportunity to proactively follow up according to their schedule.
Feel free to take notes as you work your way through all of your questions. They’ll come in handy later when you’re drafting your ‘Thank You’ email and rehashing whether or not to accept their job offer.