When preparing for an interview, many candidates focus on presenting their qualifications in a compelling way and preparing for the most common questions hiring managers ask. But it’s equally important to think about what questions to ask their interviewer in order to get a good idea of whether the role is a good match. Here are eleven questions that candidates should consider asking during a job interview:
How would you describe your company culture?
This question is a great place to start, because it gives candidates an opportunity to hear first-hand what it’s like to be an employee at the company. There are many different aspects of company culture that an interviewer might describe, and different cultures will be great fits for different people. For example, cultures might be described as family-oriented, supportive, team-focused, competitive, focused, and/or results-driven. These descriptions can be significant in determining where a prospective employee might thrive.
What attracted you to the company? What do you love about working here?
In some ways, this is an extension of the discussion on company culture. By asking the interviewer for their individual impressions of the company, the candidate can see both the big and small aspects of what makes it a special place to work. In addition, the candidate can get an understanding of what is important to the interviewer in their workplace and what their values are, which is especially helpful if the interviewer will be their direct supervisor.
When do people generally start and finish their workday?
Work-life balance is another important discussion to have before joining a new company. Some employees want the opportunity to throw themselves into their work, learning and growing in their careers as quickly as possible. Others have a wide range of personal and familial obligations outside of work so they need their workday to start and end at designated times. Either way, the candidate should ensure that the company takes an approach that meets their needs.
What does a typical day look like in this role? Are there expectations regarding travel?
A candidate will have read the job description before interviewing for a position, and they may even have held the same position with a different company. However, every company does things differently and has different expectations, so setting a foundation for what the day-to-day functions and typical travel requirements are within this particular company is important. With clear expectations defined, the transition from one company to another tends to be much smoother.
What are the items on your list of things the new hire should fix or make happen in the first six months?
Candidates need to understand what the expectations for accomplishment will be if they join the company. Does the team’s needs align with their strengths, and does the timeline sound manageable based on their experience? Asking questions like this also gives the interviewer a chance to demonstrate the company’s organizational strategies and to show that they have a plan for a new employee. Conversely, it might reveal that the candidate will have a very hands-on role in developing the strategic planning efforts for their new team.
How do you like to communicate with the people on your team? How do they communicate with one another?
Good communication is one of the best ways to support a team’s success, and there’s a lot to consider when it comes to communication strategies. Does a candidate benefit most from direct, clear instruction or a team approach to problem-solving? Can they adapt their communication strategy to fit their audience, from the field to the board room? How are their writing skills? Every workplace does things differently, so comparing and contrasting effective communication strategies from a management and peer perspective is a great way to figure out how well someone will fit on their new team.
What software does the company use? What are its strengths and challenges?
Technology is a significant part of nearly every job description in today’s market. Even if a candidate has held the same position in a different company, the new company might use completely different software than they are used to. This is not necessarily a problem, but it does let both parties know that they should plan for extra training and a short learning curve if the candidate accepts the role. If the candidate is experienced with the software the company uses, it can help ease the transition for everyone.
Is there a path for growth within your company?
Depending on the level of the role being considered, candidates often have their long-term career goals in mind. Entry- and mid-level career professionals in particular may want to know that there is growth potential within the company. Asking this type of question also helps demonstrate that a candidate will be invested in the company and seeks a future there, which is something that companies often consider when making hiring decisions. However, candidates should also be sure to focus primarily on the opportunity at hand; future promotions will need to be earned, and by spending too much time focused on the next steps, the candidate might give the interviewer the impression that they won’t be satisfied in the role they are interviewing for.
What is turnover like at my level?
Every company experiences turnover. Life circumstances change, culture and management differences arise, and the needs of both companies and candidates shift over time. But high levels of turnover, especially within one particular level of a company, can be a red flag and indicate problems that aren’t being addressed. If the company is aware of issues and working to solve them, that is a great sign that the managers prioritize growth and improvement not only in their employees but also in the company’s overall processes and procedures. On the flip side, higher-than-average tenure among employees can be a sign that the company is a great place to work and that employees experience fulfilling, long-term careers there.
Can you tell me more about your benefits package?
A lot is written about when and how to discuss salary during the interview process, but benefits packages are often overlooked. Depending on the candidate’s needs at a particular stage in their life, different benefits may be more or less important, so knowing what a company provides is crucial to determining the overall fit of the role. Does the candidate need family medical coverage, a certain 401k match, or a car allowance to assist with commute and travel costs? Find out up front if the company provides the top priorities, and if not, what options are available for meeting those needs.
Is there anything else you think I should know that we haven’t discussed?
When interviewing candidates or conducting reference calls, hiring managers often ask, “Is there anything I should know that I haven’t already asked about?” This same catch-all question is valuable here, because it gives hiring managers the chance to share significant information about the company as a whole, the role specifically, or the hiring process that they haven’t gone over yet during the interview.
Asking good questions during an interview helps candidates show that they have done their homework on the company, they are taking the job opportunity seriously, and they are committed to determining if this hire is the best fit for everyone involved. Meanwhile, being willing to honestly answer questions about the company allows interviewers to demonstrate transparency, integrity, and mutual respect, all of which are signs of a healthy company culture.