An important point many people tend to miss is that the interview is not just an opportunity for a company to get to know you. It’s also an opportunity for you to get to know the company you could be working for. So yes, you are interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing you. When a candidate does not ask meaningful questions to the interviewer, it may not necessarily cause a bad impression and the candidate may still land a great job. On the other hand, I have met many great candidates that accepted really great roles but became quickly dissatisfied because what the job turned out to be did not match what they imagined it to be. Like making any important investment, you want to make sure you perform due diligence on researching the role. Asking meaningful questions at the interview is a powerful weapon in this regard.
Here are some examples of good interview questions to ask your interviewer or hiring manager:
1) What would a successful candidate accomplish in the first 90 days?
This question is very useful to figure out what the hiring manager’s immediate needs are. For most jobs, the first 90 days can be very difficult to produce substantial results on mission critical projects. The response to this question will therefore also give you indications on how capable your hiring manager is on growing and developing an organization.
2) What’s one thing you wish you could change about your organization?
Does your hiring manager have a pulse on continual growth and improvement? No organization is perfect and the passions and focus of your hiring manager can be revealed in discussing this question. If your hiring manager cannot think of anything he/she would change, it could indicate that he/she is very removed from the details of the day-to-day. This is not a favorable situation to you coming into the organization new and it is certainly something you would want to know before considering a job.
3) What keeps you up at night with respect to your business?
Companies develop their own culture. Certain elements make the company very successful with the way the industry expects the company to operate. Other elements make the company vulnerable. A seasoned hiring manager should be able to offer insight and a glimpse of the culture at that company.
4) Can you give me an example of how has your boss helped you in your career?
The success of a manager is not only measured by how he/she manages the team. It is also important for the manager to effectively influence their peers and management. If your hiring manager cannot provide specific and clear examples, then it can indicate that the organization may have some significant communication and collaboration issues. It can also indicate that your hiring manager may have some severe management weak points when it comes to working with his/her peers.
5) In your team, what quality or skill have you found to be the most reliable predictor of success for team members?
An executive I worked closely with once stated that managers tend to hire people who have similar qualities to themselves and further, that managers will tend to also promote and reward those who have similar qualities as themselves. Accordingly, the response to this question may help you understand qualities your hiring manager values in him/herself. It will certainly give you an indication of what quality you are expected to have if you want to succeed at the organization.
6) What problem needs to be solved that you are looking for candidates for the position I am interviewing for?
All positions in a company are opened to solve specific problems. The problems could be short term or long term, but there certainly is a reason. Further, there’s a reason why the company is looking for external candidates rather than promoting from within the organization. It would be wise for you to have a pulse on these reasons, since you would be bound to the same culture once you join a company.
7) What do you think would be my biggest challenge in this role?
This question is slightly different than asking what accomplishments your hiring manager expects of you. This question asks the hiring manager to consider the culture and situation at the organization and make an assessment of some of the more difficult aspects of the job.
8) What makes you most excited about your job?
The financial compensation at any company is never enough to keep a person there. It can be very helpful for you to know what makes your hiring manager excited about his/her job. It will also help you understand what he/she will focus on maintaining at the company. I once spoke with a human resource manager who vowed that while he works at the company, there will always be free bottled water and soft drinks. He may have said that with some humor in mind, but it was true that no matter what sort of cost cutting needed to occur at that company, the free beverage service never went away.
9) Why did you choose to work for this company?
The response to this question can potentially really broaden your perspective. Your hiring manager was also in a similar position as yourself. Whether he/she was happy in his/her previous company, there was some compelling reason that drew him/her to this company. That reason may be something you never thought about. In fact, your hiring manager also can tell you if the hunch he/she had about the company proved to be true now that he/she is working there.
10) What do you believe your organization’s advantage is over the competitors?
Whether a company is leading the industry or trailing it, there must be something about the company that leads people to be believe they have a fighting chance. How well your hiring manager is in tune with that can reveal a bit about the organization. It can also provide insight to you whether those items are things that get you excited, as well.
We hope these questions helped you to shape how you approach the interview process. Let us know interesting interview questions you have asked and how it helped you decide on a position.