Interviewing for a new job is a two-way street. While your potential new employer is evaluating whether you’re a good fit for the position and company, you should also be evaluating whether you want to work there. Some companies are well-known for having unique cultures (such as Nike’s culture of empowerment) or offering unique benefits (such as Facebook’s focus on employees continuing their education). While these topics aren’t necessarily related to your job duties, they may affect how happy — and productive — you’ll be at work. That’s why it's important to have a list of meaningful questions ready to ask your interviewer.
While most questions about compensation and benefits are appropriate (what is the salary? What are the typical benefits? Does this company offer a parental leave benefit? You should also have a list of meaningful questions.
Here are five questions to get you started, but be creative.
1. How does this job fit into the bigger picture of the company?
You’re not going to be working for a company forever, and you shouldn’t expect to be. Any good employer is going to have a long-term plan, and you need to know what that plan is for the company you’re considering. Does the position you’re interviewing for help accomplish that goal? Is it part of a bigger initiative? Will your contribution be meaningful?
2. How will you know if I succeed or fail?
This is another great question to ask before an interview. You want to make sure that the role you’re interviewing for is one that the person you’re talking to actually has some control over. If it’s someone higher up in the company, such as the CEO, it may be somewhat difficult for them to answer this kind of query. But if they do answer it, take their response seriously.
3. Who succeeds in this role today?
You should also try to find out how other employees in a similar position have been performing. If the answer is “no one has ever done this job before,” that might be a red flag. Or it could just mean that the company hasn’t found the right person yet, which could mean good things for you if you succeed here.
4. What does the team like about working for this company?
People love to talk about things they’re happy about, and you can glean a lot of information by asking about things the employees like about their jobs and the company culture. You can try to get a feel for the culture by asking questions such as: What does this company’s culture encourage? Does the company promote work-life balance? Does the company emphasize teamwork?
5. Do you have any concerns I should know about?
You should feel free to ask for feedback after an interview, even if you don’t intend to do so during the conversation. This is a good time to let people know whether or not you feel like you were given enough time to discuss all your skills or whether or not you felt that the interviewer was biased against you for some reason.
Don’t be afraid to be you, but knowing what might be holding you back from a job can never hurt.
After the interview, make sure also to review your interview experience. Were you provided with materials to learn about the company beforehand? Did the interviewer provide meaningful answers to your questions? Did you have a chance to ask about the benefits and culture? While these types of questions may seem a little forward, they’re a great way to get valuable information about the company before making a commitment to work there. With a list of meaningful questions handy, you can ensure that your interview experience is a successful one.
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