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We've all been there – we know that interviews can be stressful! You likely think more about answering questions in a job interview than asking them. However, you should go into each interview with a list of general questions to ask a company and prospective managers or other representatives you are privileged to meet. As a visiting interviewee, you should take any reasonable opportunity to insert your agenda into the interview process. Beyond helping you access valuable information, you can make a positive first impression by asking the right questions and steering the conversation in the right direction.
Don’t sweat it, prepare for it! Here are some questions to ask in your next interview that will not only get you the answers you need about the position, but help you stand out as a candidate.
Questions to Ask About the Company
When interviewing, consider the importance of asking thoughtful questions. While this may seem obvious from the interviewer’s perspective, it holds equally true for the interviewee.
First and foremost, you can get a much clearer picture of your potential employer by asking the right questions during your interview. Here are just a few areas of interest that you can explore with a few carefully worded inquiries:
Company Culture and Values
Productive working relationships are all about making a good fit. Comfortable relationships at work make it essential to pair your personality and values with the culture and values of the organization you work for.
Every organization is unique and supports a culture that is all its own. Employees with values that match those of their organization tend to be more satisfied, more committed to their jobs, and more successful on the job than those whose values don't match those of their employing organization.
One of the best questions to ask to size up a company’s culture and values is, “What is a typical day around here?”. By asking this question of the hiring manager and as many people as possible throughout the organization, you can get a good idea about what’s in store for you if you get the job.
Team Dynamics and Collaboration
To determine whether a particular organization might be the right fit for you, you must assess its overall culture regarding team dynamics and opportunities for productive collaboration. By asking questions such as “How does the company respond to disagreements in the workplace?” you can assess the management style, conflict tolerance, and how team members interact. By asking, “How does the company balance independence and teamwork?” you can assess its approach to collaboration.
Another way to determine overall team dynamics is to ask company representatives about their favorite office traditions and any company events that employees attend together. Of course, you can also take the straightforward approach with a question like “How does the team foster and benefit from strong workplace bonds?”.
Growth Opportunities and Future Plans
By asking questions like “Where is the company headed over the next few years?” you can gain a better understanding of an organization’s overall growth trajectory and plans.
A direct question such as, “What are the growth opportunities here?” is probably best to size up professional development opportunities at a given organization. Because there are many ways that companies can boost their employees up the corporate ladder, Forbes contributor Goldie Chan recommends asking, “How does the company invest in the career advancement of its employees?”.
By asking questions like “Where is the company headed over the next few years?” you can gain a better understanding of an organization’s overall growth trajectory and plans. You can also ask questions such as “Do you plan to hire more people in the near future?” and “Can you tell me about the company’s practical long-term goals?”.
Questions to Ask About the Role
From the professional qualifications to the chances for advancement, you will want to know plenty of things about your prospective position. Therefore, most questions you ask during any job interview will likely revolve around your role in the organization.
Responsibilities and Expectations
Perhaps the best interview question for an interviewee is, “What are the responsibilities of this position?”. By posing this question, you show the interviewer that you value attention to detail and are deeply interested in the work. Furthermore, a clear answer to this question is invaluable if and when the time comes to either accept or reject a job offer. To better define expectations in a given position, you may want to ask about the performance review process at the company.
Support and Resources
Because you will inevitably have many questions and need a significant amount of assistance when you are new to a position, you will want to inquire about the organization’s onboarding process and any support resources it offers to new employees. A company human resources professional should be able to help answer these questions directly.
Performance Evaluation and Success Metrics
Suppose you want to perform according to expectations and advance in your profession. In that case, you will want a clear picture of how the employing organization evaluates its employees and separates success from failure. In addition to directly asking the interviewer to outline performance processes and metrics, you might ask, “What kinds of benchmarks would you like to see someone in this position reach over [blank] days on the job?". Of course, you could also pose this question in terms of years.
Questions to Ask a Future Employer
Most interviewers will allow you to ask any final questions you might have, typically later in the interviewing process. Although your nerves may be frazzled when this opportunity presents, you should take full advantage. At the very least, you should never leave an interview without asking about the next step in the hiring process. Other essential inquiries to raise with a prospective employer include:
Approach to Employee Well-Being
Key phrases to bring up and listen for during the interview include “mental health benefits” and “work-life balance.” In short, you will want to ensure that any potential employer can meet your unique needs to maintain your overall health and well-being. From free gym memberships to extra personal time off, organizations can express their commitment to employee wellness in various ways.
Opportunities for Professional Development and Growth
When it comes to practical and emotional career satisfaction, few things can compare with the freedom and support that comes with ample opportunity for professional development and growth. Beyond asking about training and development opportunities directly, you may want to ask:
- “Will this position allow me to complete ‘stretch assignments’ that challenge me to learn and use new skills?”
- “Might I be able to represent the company in industry associations or at industry conferences?
- “Have others in this position progressed to higher leadership positions?”
By making these inquiries, you demonstrate the ambitious nature that most employers find tremendously appealing.
Challenges and Opportunities for Improvement
Because employing organizations want to benefit from the ambition of their employees, you will want to ask about the biggest challenges and areas for improvement within the company. This line of questioning will showcase you as an employee worth investing in while simultaneously allowing interviewers to share negative aspects of the job that they might otherwise conceal. Furthermore, you can get a clearer overall picture of how the organization addresses adversity and embraces change.
The Importance of Asking Good Questions
...while most casual conversations are roughly 50/50 when it comes to the division of speaking time between any two parties, interviewees should speak for roughly 70 percent of the time during the typical interview.
As an interviewee, you likely focus on answering incoming questions, and rightfully so! You will certainly need to prepare to answer the questions most likely coming your way. However, you shouldn’t sell your questions short — seize every chance to ask one.
While it may be counterintuitive, the interviewee possesses a fair amount of power during the interview process. The authorities behind the textbook Communicating at Work report that, while most casual conversations are roughly 50/50 when it comes to the division of speaking time between any two parties, interviewees should speak for roughly 70 percent of the time during the typical interview. This time advantage offers them ample opportunities to address their concerns and pose questions.
Even when answering an interviewer's questions, you should look for any chance to transform your answers into questions of your own. Pivoting your answers into questions can prove helpful when answering honestly but simultaneously deflecting “gotcha” questions such as the extremely common “What are some of your greatest weaknesses?”.
The authoritative resource Indeed Career Guide recommends reframing the negative premise of this question into a positive one by answering, “I often have difficulty asking for help.” In addition to presenting yourself as an assertive and independent problem-solver, this answer allows you to follow up with a question about the types and extend to support services and readily available resources.
Get Career-Ready with a Degree from Champlain College
Whatever career path you choose, you will need to prepare yourself in various ways. To ensure you have the skills and credentials you need to succeed, consider one of the many degree and certificate programs at Champlain College Online. To find a program that works for you, request more information.
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