“Well, that’s pretty much it on our end, do you have any questions?” The interview is wrapping up and now it’s your turn to ask questions. What do you say?
I have to hand it to most candidates. The overwhelming majority had great, relevant questions. When you do your research on the company beforehand, it’s natural that questions will pop up and you should definitely jot those down to ask the interviewers.
With that said, here are my 5 key questions to ask in an interview:
1. “What is the strategic vision for the company in the coming years and how is our team involved?”
I like this question because it’s important to tie the work you do to the larger vision for the company. It gives you a “why” to the contribution you make as an employee.
In a more concrete sense however, it will help you to get a sense for how healthy the company is and to understand if there is a potential for future layoffs in your department. You can never be too careful these days. Many of us hope to have a long tenure with the company and the possibility to advance our careers. The company and the department need to be healthy for this to happen, so it’s best to ask.
2. “What can you tell me about the company culture that one would not find on the website?”
The friendly folks in Marketing and/or Talent Acquisition work very hard to develop an engaging description of the company culture. This then gets reviewed by any number of executives. Needless to say, after going through the corporate machine, you get a sterile, generic description of the company culture on the website that may or may not accurately reflect reality.
When you ask the interviewers to talk about what isn’t on the website, you demonstrate that you did your homework but that you also care about getting a personal and authentic description to give you additional insight into the company culture.
3. “What is the expectation for the incumbent’s performance in the first 90 days?”
This is a critical question because if you get the job, this is the expectation that will be placed on you. It’s best to know what you are walking into.
By asking this question, you also demonstrate an awareness that the employment relationship is a two-way street. This may seem self-evident, but you would be surprised to know the number of people who focus on what they will get out of the job but give little thought to what their contribution will be. Additionally, this question will give you insight into the onboarding and training plan – or lack thereof.
4. “What is the growth path for this position?”
While the last question demonstrates an awareness that you want to give and contribute, this question shares that you have expectations too.
You want to ensure that your ambitions can be met with this company. Is there one path for growth? Many? None? Does this align with what your aspirations are? It’s important to know the answer to this question before you sign on the dotted line.
5. “What do you like about working here?”
As much as I hated answering this question as a recruiter, I respect the question because there is value in it. I hated answering this question because my personal philosophy is that the interview time should be dedicated to the candidate – my job was to facilitate the conversation.
With that said, I was lucky to work for great companies and with some wonderful, talented people. And – absolutely – I wanted to share this with candidates. By asking the interviewers what they like about working at the company, it gives you a chance to turn the tables which helps to create rapport with the interviewers. It also gives you insight into who the interviewers are. You especially want to pay attention to how the hiring manager answers this question. This person will potentially be your boss. If they aren’t motivated to get out of bed and come to work each day, what hope do you have?
Remember that the interview is a two-way street. Yes, you hope that the interview will lead to an offer, but it’s important to know that this company is the right place for you. Do your homework and ask as many questions as you need to lay all your concerns to rest. You want to sign the offer with confidence and start this new chapter with a bang!