In most interviews, answers to questions I ask are things the candidate thinks I want to hear - where they have the chance to ace the interview is in the questions I am asked.
There are thousands of “Questions You Should Ask in An Interview” lists out there and most are designed to get you the job. Fine and dandy. But what if you want to make sure you’re getting the right job?
I honestly believe that you need to interview your prospective employer just as much as they are interviewing you. It helps everyone. The happier you are in the workplace, the longer you stay, the less hiring I have to worry about. Win Win.
Some of my favorite questions to be asked are:
1 - “What hiring problem am I solving?” Why is the role open? Did someone quit? Were they promoted? Did the company expand? If two different people have quit that role in the recent past, that’s a red flag for you. If I promoted someone internally or the role was created due to normal growth - both are signs of a solid workplace.
2- “What are your biggest challenges with this role/team?” This is where I will tell you what problems I need solved in terms of management, deliverables, culture and/or client issues. It’s another chance for you to tell me how you can solve those problems for me and that’s what hiring is about. Solving a problem.
3- “What is your company culture?” This is a biggie. You want to know that you won’t dread coming in the office every day. Are you looking for a flat organization that doesn’t allow emails after 6p? Do you like LOTS of structure, process and rules or an open, collaborative environment? This is your chance to find out what we’re like. I want to know that you care about contributing to our culture and not just by ‘fitting in’ but by adding to it. The fact that you’re thinking about it during your search let me know you’d think about it post-hire!
4- “What will I be working on?” Ask me what you’ll be working on… specifically. I’ve had creatives come work for me who just assumed they’d be on particular accounts or types of business but since they never asked, I didn’t know their intentions or interest level. If you know you hate writing radio ads, and I tell you you’ll be writing radio copy 24/7- you won’t be happy. I want you to be happy. If a hiring manager can’t tell you specifics, that may be a red flag for you if you know that there are very particular things you want to accomplish. If you like the idea of an undefined job description/client load/project list - then no specifics might just be fine for you. But ask me.
5- “Is there a mentoring and/or learning and development program?” It’s a fact. Employees that are consistently mentored are more successful in their roles, and those that are free to learn and expand their skillsets - enhance the entire group. These things should be important to you too. If you ask me about mentoring, I know you are excited to learn from within our team. If you inquire about Learning & Development, I know you’re curious and motivated. I want to hire someone who wants to grow with the company, personally and professionally.
6- “What is the typical promotion path?” This isn’t presumptuous, this question tells me you’re thinking long term. You should be on the lookout for companies that promote from within and foster growth within their teams. Remember, I don’t want to have to keep hiring and rehiring. Promoting from inside keeps that to a minimum. I want you to want to stay.
Extra Credit Question: “What is your experience working here with ____ ?” Here’s your chance to ask something specific that matters to you! e.g. Coworkers going to lunch together? Work-life balance? Awards & recognition? This question is two-fold. It lets me know what’s important to you and gives me the opportunity to be honest about my personal experience.
All in, don’t just ask these questions, but really listen to the answers. You want to be in the right job right? Then don’t just passively let one happen to you. Make thoughtful decisions about where you will go for the bulk of your days. Where will you make an impact? Where will you feel fulfilled, and challenged? Absorb the answers to these questions and use them to help you make your informed decision.
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