Good candidates already know how to ace the common job interview questions, but they often miss the opportunity to do a little interviewing of their own.
Great candidates know that rattling off a few timely questions during their interview is often what sets them apart as someone who came prepared and is truly interested in the position. It also helps them get a sense of whether they would truly be happy with the position they are seeking, an important and often overlooked consideration.
Here are five simple questions that will help you turn your next job interview into a fact-finding mission about your potential employer.
What do you love about working here?
By giving your interviewer a chance to open up about company culture, you’ll gain valuable insight into their values and the values of your potential employer.
If your interviewer gushes about the sense of community or the ridiculously awesome benefits, you can be relatively sure they are being sincere. If they freeze up and resort to a canned statement from the company website, you may come away skeptical. At the very least you’ll get a better sense of what you’d be signing up for.
How has this position evolved?
Are you replacing a poor performer who was let go or a superstar who moved up a rung on the corporate ladder? Does your new employer want a clone of their previous hire, or are they looking for a fresh start by hiring someone with a completely different work philosophy?
Knowing how the job you want was performed and evaluated in the past will give insight into what may be expected of you in the future.
What are the key job priorities for this position?
Job interviewers often rattle off a long list of duties you would hypothetically be responsible for performing. What they sometimes fail to make clear is which of these duties will be the most important.
Asking about these job priorities shows you are a strategic thinker. It also gives insight into how your performance will truly be judged.
What kinds of challenges would I face in this job?
Many interviewers will give insight into some of the company’s less shiny details if you ask the right questions. Maybe they’ve had trouble with their last few hires. Maybe there are conflicting priorities between different departments.
Pay close attention to the answers you get, but remember that every job has challenges. Be suspicious if your interviewer claims there will be no hurdles to face in your new position.
Do you have any concerns about my ability to do this job well?
Seems like a risky question, doesn’t it? What if your interviewer takes the opportunity to pounce and says you’re just not cut out for the job? Even if that happens, this question works because it displays clear confidence and a willingness to address any perceived weaknesses.
Some interviewers intentionally discourage job seekers just to see how they will handle the pressure. Others may honestly feel you are not the right fit. Either way, it’s best to know up front while you still have the opportunity to explain (gently) why they are mistaken.
Best case scenario, you get your interviewer on-record with the idea that you would be good for this position. Planting this seed early in the process can pay dividends when it’s time to make a final decision.