Employees who love their jobs naturally recommend their company to their friends and peers. The same is true for people in leadership positions — people naturally try to bring on board talented people they previously worked with. They’ve built relationships, developed trust, and shown a level of competence that made someone go out of their way to follow them to a new organization.
Show Your Interest for the Position
Here are top questions you should absolutely ask an interviewer:
- What’s the next step in the interview/hiring process?
- How long does your recruitment process usually take?
- What are the primary responsibilities of the position?
- What would my day-to-day routine look like if I got the job?
- What can you tell me about the job apart from what was in the description?
- What would I be expected to accomplish in my first month/year on the job?
- What is the key to succeeding in this role?
- What does it look like during the busiest and toughest times for this role?
- Would I need to travel for the position?
- What kind of hours are expected for me to perform the role at maximum capacity?
- Is overtime expected and/or allowed?
- Could you tell me a little bit about the person I would report to directly?
- What is the onboarding process like for new hires?
- How many people will I be working with?
- If I were hired for the position, what would be the ideal starting date?
- Do you expect the responsibilities for this role to change in the near future?
Pro Tip: Avoid asking the interviewer yes/no questions. Just as they will save their yes/no questions mostly for the job application, your few questions posed should solicit a detailed response. Also, many of these answers can probably be found online.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Answers to this question go one of two basic ways. Candidates try to show their incredible ambition (because that’s what they think you want) by providing an extremely optimistic answer: “I want your job!” Or they try to show their humility (because that’s what they think you want) by providing a meek, self-deprecating answer: “There are so many talented people here. I just want to do a great job and see where my talents take me.”
Since a candidate cannot compare himself with people he doesn’t know, all he can do is describe his incredible passion and desire and commitment and . well, basically beg for the job. (Way too many interviewers ask the question and then sit back, arms folded, as if to say, “Go ahead. I’m listening. Try to convince me.”)
Rarely do candidates come to the end of an interview feeling they’ve done their best. Maybe the conversation went in an unexpected direction. Maybe the interviewer focused on one aspect of their skills and totally ignored other key attributes. Or maybe candidates started the interview nervous and hesitant, and now wish they could go back and better describe their qualifications and experience.
“What is your leadership style?”
This is a tough question to answer without dipping into platitudes. Try sharing leadership examples instead. Say, “The best way for me to answer that is to give you a few examples of leadership challenges I’ve faced,” and then share situations where you dealt with a problem, motivated a team, worked through a crisis. Explain what you did and that will give the interviewer a great sense of how you lead.
No one agrees with every decision. Disagreements are fine; it’s what you do when you disagree that matters. (We all know people who love to have the “meeting after the meeting,” where they’ve supported a decision in the meeting but they then go out and undermine it.)
Show that you were professional. Show that you raised your concerns in a productive way. If you have an example that proves you can effect change, great — and if you don’t, show that you can support a decision even though you think it’s wrong (as long as it’s not unethical, immoral, etc.).
Sample Questions to Ask at the End of a Job Interview
Questions about the specific job
Questions about the team
Questions for your potential boss
Questions about the company
Questions about the culture
Lees warns that you should take answers to questions about the company culture with a grain of salt. It’s highly unlikely that the interviewee is going to come out and tell you that the culture is unwelcoming, or even toxic. That’s why questions like #22 below can be helpful. They get at company culture without explicitly asking about it and can “help you uncover any unexpected elements about your potential new workplace,” Markman says.
- How do you typically onboard employees?
- If the position will be remote, ask specifically about how remote employees are integrated into the company culture, Markman advises.
- What do new employees typically find surprising after they start?
- Is there anything that I should read before starting that would help me have a shared understanding with my colleagues?
- Asking this question not only signals your interest in the position but also shows that you’re eager to have “shared cultural references with the people you’ll be working with,” Markman says.
- What’s your favorite office tradition?
- What do you and the team usually do for lunch?
- Do you ever do joint events with other departments or teams?
- What’s different about working here than anywhere else you’ve worked?
- How has the company changed since you joined?
Questions about professional development, career paths, and future opportunities
Markman says it’s critical to understand what growth and career development will look like in the job. You want to be sure that you can see yourself not just in the role you’re currently applying for but that there is a career path at the organization that you’re excited about.
Questions to Avoid
You want to avoid asking about salary and benefits too early in the process, Lees advises. “You’re not in a position to negotiate well because you’re still in unknown territory. The time to discuss salary is after they’ve fallen in love with you,” he explains. But what if the interviewer asks you about your salary requirements? This video offers helpful tips for how to navigate that complicated question:
This opportunity to ask questions is one you don’t want to waste. It’s both a chance to continue to prove yourself and to find out whether this job is the right fit for you. Of course, you aren’t going to ask all 38 of these questions. Choose the ones that are more relevant to you, your interests, and the specific job ahead of time. Then write them down — either on a piece of paper or on your phone — and glance at them ahead of time so that they’re fresh in your mind. And, of course, be mindful of the interviewer’s time. If you were scheduled to talk for an hour and they turn to you with five minutes left, choose two or three questions that are most important to you. You will always have more time to ask questions once you have the job offer in hand.