A job interview isn’t just a formality where an employer asks you as a candidate about your skills and knowledge. It’s also an opportunity for you to learn more about a company and make sure it is a fit for your goals and experience. Before you head into any interview, come up with a list of things you would like to know about the organization, the job, the culture and more. Need some ideas? Here are eight questions as a starting point:
1. How does this department fit into the organization? Learn everything you can about how the job for which you are interviewing and the department support the company.
2. What do you enjoy most about this company? This question turns the conversation around and allows you to get an inside view of your potential employer. It might catch your interviewer by surprise, but this is a good thing. Hopefully he or she will offer you a few honest assessments of some of the best features of the employer.
3. Is this a new position or would I be replacing someone? Learning a little background on how a position came open will help you approach the situation with your eyes wide open. The answer to this question might also give you a sense of whether there is opportunity to grow at a company and any past turnover issues.
4. When you think about the best candidate for this position, what qualities and experience come to mind? During the first part of the interview, you might have gotten a general picture of the right person for the job, but if you’d like more detail, ask now.
5. What are your hopes and goals for the person you hire? You want to know what immediate and longer-term action items the person who would supervise you has in mind. When meeting with that person, use this line of questioning to get an understanding of their objectives and plans in the short and long term.
6. How would you characterize the culture of the company? The culture is the foundation of an organization, made up of the mission, beliefs and values. Give your interviewer a chance to share what makes theirs unique and special.
7. What are the expectations for weekly hours? Surely you’d rather have a clear picture of a typical workday’s hours and the organization’s commitment to work-life balance (or lack thereof) before you start working there. If overtime is expected, ask when the busiest periods are.
8. What are some of the challenges your department is facing right now? Every organization and the departments within them have challenges. Initiate a discussion about pain points that might impact your specific duties.
Notice that none of these questions are about compensation, time off and perks. There’s nothing wrong with talking about these things if they come up in an early interview but be careful not to give an interviewer the wrong impression. Avoid focusing too much on salary and bonuses, vacation benefits and flexible work options.
You have the best chance of being successful at an organization that fits your values and personality and has a role that utilizes your strengths. Use the interview process to determine
whether you are a match for a company and position. Prepare intelligent, thoughtful questions that will give you a good overview of the organization—and make you seem interested and well prepared.