An interview is not a one-way street where only the interviewer asks a lot of questions. In this episode, I show you a simple, 5-step approach to asking the right questions to help you determine whether the company, the role and the work environment are a good fit for you.
Hi, and welcome to today’s episode, which is about asking the right questions during an interview. An interview is not a one-way street where the interviewer only asks you a lot of questions and then decides whether or not to hire you. Instead, you also want to be sure that the company, the role and the work environment are a good fit. And asking the right questions during the interview is not only the best way to figure this out, but it is also an excellent opportunity for you to stick out from other candidates, because it shows that you are well-prepared and motivated about the job.
On the Internet, there are many lists with questions to ask during an interview, and I also created one for you with my favorites, which you can find on interviewPreparationSimplified.com. However, I would not recommend just picking some random questions from one of these lists. Do it the other way around: first, figure out what is important to you, and then find the right questions to cover these aspects.
Here are five steps that might help you:
Step 1: Questions about the company. Make sure you have all the information you need to decide whether or not you identify with the company, its products and its customers. You can often find a lot of information online, so do some proper research on the company’s website before asking a question. Otherwise, the interviewer might perceive you as unprepared. If there is something you want to know that you cannot find, then, of course, you should ask. In that case, it might be a good idea to start your question with, “I have found a lot of information about your company on your website. One aspect that I would like to know more about is…” Another area that you might want to ask the interviewer about is the company’s long-term plans, which often are more difficult to find information about online. For example, you could ask what the company’s strategy and targets for the next couple of years are and, most importantly, what that means for the department and the position you applied for.
Step 2: Questions about the culture and the work environment. You will spend a lot of time at work, so you want to be sure you will thrive in your new job. Therefore, you should take the chance to get the interviewer’s perspective on how it is to work there. And there are two strategies for this. The first is to ask general questions. For example, you could ask the interviewers how they would describe the culture and what kind of person would thrive best in it. Or maybe you ask them what they like most about working there and then follow up with, “There are always things that can be improved. If you could choose one, what would that be?” The other strategy is to address specific aspects that are important to you. For example, if you prefer autonomy over hierarchy, you can ask how decisions are made. Or, if you need social interaction with your colleagues to thrive, you could ask what the interviewer and the team usually do for lunch.
Step 3: Questions about the job. If you don’t already know, you might want to ask whom you will report to, which other departments you will collaborate with most and how the team looks like. Try to understand what to expect during your first months. You can do this by asking about the onboarding process, the biggest challenges a new person in this position would face, and tasks and projects that need to be immediately addressed by the new hire. If applicable, make sure you understand the size of the budget or team you will be responsible for, as these details often aren’t disclosed in the job description. And if anything about the role and its responsibilities is unclear, then you should address this. You might also want to ask what the typical career path for someone in this position looks like.
Step 4: Performance-related questions. It is crucial to understand what you are expected to deliver. You can do this by asking what success looks like in this position and how it is measured. If the answer isn’t specific enough, or if you want to understand the hiring manager’s priorities, you could also ask, “If I got the job and we met after six months for a performance review, what would I have achieved if you were very pleased with my accomplishments?”
Step 5: Questions about the recruitment process. Before you leave, you probably want to understand what happens next. So, if you don’t yet know, ask what the next steps are. And to get an idea of the timeline, you could ask what the ideal start date would be and when the interviewer expects to make a hiring decision. Once you have received all answers, you could conclude by saying: “Thank you for answering all my questions. Is there anything else I can provide you with that would be helpful?”
These were the five steps. Once you have identified your questions, I recommend you prioritize them to ensure you get answers to the most important ones (in case there is not enough time to go through all of them). And one final thing: I would advise you not to ask about compensation and benefits during the interview unless you have a thought-through strategy for this. Please listen to episode number 4 about salary negotiation if you want to learn more.
That’s all for today. Thank you for listening, and I hope this was helpful to you.
I have found a lot of information about your company on your website. One aspect that I would like to know more about is .
How do you expect this company to develop in the next years?
What are the company’s strategy and goals for the next couple of years?
What does this mean for your department and the position I applied for?
What are are your customer’s biggest challenges?
How would you personally describe the culture?
What do you like about working at this company?
There are always things that can be improved. If you could choose one, what would that be?
What is the biggest pitfall that a new hire should avoid?
What kind of person thrives best in the company’s culture?
How are decisions made?
How many direct reports do you have?
What do you and the team usually do for lunch?
Who will I report to?
Can you tell me more about the team I’ll be working with?
How does the process work?
Which other departments will I collaborate with most?
Which tasks or projects need to be immediately addressed by the person you hire?
What are the biggest challenges a person in this position would face?
What is the size of
How does the onboarding work?
What does the typical career path for someone in this position look like?
What does success look like in this position, and how do you measure it?
If I got the job and we met after six months for a performance review, what would I have achieved if you were very pleased with my accomplishments?
What are the most important things you want the new hire to achieve in 30/60/90 days?
What are the next steps in the recruitment process?
When do you expect to make a hiring decision?
What would be the ideal start date?
Is there anything else I can provide you with that would be helpful?