Asking the Right Interview Questions

When preparing for an upcoming interview, there are a few key questions to ask to make sure the company, position, and expectations align with your skill set. Questions related to the position’s details, any benchmarks for success, the company culture, and possible next steps will cover all the bases, and there are a handful of ways to gather this information. Asking about common challenges faced in the role, the day-by-day duties, and the position’s turnover rate will help you decide how your skills line up and whether the staff tends to stay on board or frequently jump ship. Getting to know the company culture, figuring out what you like about the company, and discovering other traits like management style will give you a deeper feel for the workplace as a whole as well. Lastly but possibly most important, wrapping it all up by confirming the timeline for next steps is a great way to figure out when you’ll hear back after the interview.

Understand the Position at Hand

You can start with the basics by digging deeper into the position itself. Ask if there are any challenges unique to the role for some easily missed details, for example, and briefly explain how you’ll overcome them. To get a view of the daily atmosphere and duties that await you, ask your interviewer to describe a usual day on the job. You could dig deeper and ask how each day is split according to the core tasks to ensure the job is as initially described, so that you know exactly what each day on the job will entail.

Also, questions about turnover can reveal more about whether employees tend to leave or stay. You can ask how long previous employees have remained in the position for. Getting a sense for their recent turnover rate rather than a general percentage will give you current information to go off of. Ask these questions to reveal hints of poor management, ineffective training or weak recruiting which tend to drive high turnover.

Know the Benchmarks for Success

Take the opportunity in an interview to learn how success is measured in the position at hand. By doing this, you’ll know exactly how to advance in your future role. Start out by asking what the monthly, quarterly, and yearly expectations are for their desired candidate. It’ll help you see what kind of pace they work at, how achievements are determined, and whether those achievements are defined by a team or individual standard. You’ll also get a feel for whether the work environment is more competitive or collaborative. Uncovering any unique traits that successful employees seem to commonly portray is an impactful inquiry as well. This will show you the hiring manager’s desired profile, which is essentially a roadmap to success – so long as the right questions are asked.

Is the Company Culture Right for You?

Ask some targeted questions to get a feel for how the company defines its culture and outline the shared characteristics between current employees. After all, value alignment and getting along with colleagues can make or break an employment experience. Asking the interviewer how they would describe the culture in the office will help you see whether your personality aligns with the atmosphere set by the company. If you thrive in a loosely structured workspace versus a more hierarchical organizational style, this could be a telltale sign to look elsewhere. If interaction with other coworkers is a daily expectation, and you’re an extroverted type of person, then maybe the environment is a fit.

You can also directly ask the interviewer what they like about working at the company, and find out how supervisors treat their teams by asking about the management styles employed by the company. If you’re an independent worker and are suddenly dropped into a team setting, this question will save you from future discomfort. People who typically complete their assigned tasks with minimal check-ins could be swayed by an open work culture versus a more standardized, micro-managing style. Maybe management expects the position to have weekend availability, and your schedule just can’t meet those needs. Game-changing details like these can be sorted out ahead of time so that you don’t blindly walk into an unhealthy workplace.

Make Sure to Establish Next Steps

Finish off the interview by establishing when you’ll hear back regarding your potential employment. You want to leave the interview with a decision timeline so that you:

  1. Can rest easy until the response date has come around
  2. Know when to follow-up if you haven’t heard back
  3. Understand what to expect, and when

Even if you feel that the interview has dragged on long enough, take the few extra seconds to ask when you should expect to hear back. If the interviewer says it’ll take a week, then you know when to follow-up if they haven’t reached out by then. It’ll also save you from false hopelessness if the timeline is much longer than expected. You might expect it to take two weeks for your hiring decision to be made, but their usual timeframe is a month long. So, save your psyche and establish a contingent follow-up point by asking, “Where do we go from here?”