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What questions should I ask during a job interview?

When is the last time you (as the jobseeker) took over the role of the interviewer?

Your answer should be, “at my last interview.” Better yet, your answer needs to be “at every single interview I go to!”

Before you stop reading and go on to the next article, think about it this way;

Times have changed. We are no longer living in a society where when you get a job, you’re guaranteed job security and a pension after you put your 30+ years in. Not anymore! Companies are closing, downsizing, and only a select few can even offer a pension. So, what does that mean for jobseekers? It means that you may (dare I say will) have more than 5 careers or in some cases more than 10 employers in your lifetime.

So where am I going with this?

My point is this, knowing that you will have multiple employers (which means additional skills and experiences) means that you need to be selective when it comes to where you are going to work now and where you are going to work later.

Part of being selective in choosing your ideal company, department, or boss means that you should be conducting research on them AND interviewing them as you’re being interviewed.

I cringe when my clients tell me that they didn’t ask questions in interviews. My question in return is always, “well how do you know you want to work there?” I usually hear silence after that. Trust me when I say, they are doing their research on you (via web or through word of mouth) and grilling you with questions to discover if you’re a good fit. You should be doing the exact same thing because after all, they need to be a good fit for you too!

Below are a few questions I encourage interview candidates to ask at every interview:

  1. Is this a new position? Did the previous employee move to a different role here?
    • Asking this question will give you a hint as to what circumstances the previous employee left under. Did they retire? (that’s a good sign!). Did they leave for more money? (Will their salary meet your expectations?) Did they get promoted? (Good, there’s room for growth!)
  2. Who will I primarily be working with? Who do I report to?
    • It’s important that you meet the people you will be working with. Are they the ones interviewing you? Is your future boss in the room? Do you get a good feeling from them? Did you make a connection? Do they seem inviting and kind?
  3. What type of skills or traits are you looking for in the person who fills this role?
    • This provides an opportunity to see how you’re stacking up against other candidates. It will also allow you to confirm that you meet their criteria and have demonstrated that you understand their needs. Often when an interview has gone well, the interviewer will refer to the key skills that you have and may sometimes even say “once you’re in this position.”
  4. What is your timeline for filling the position?
    • Never ever leave an interview without asking for their timeline. Knowing an employer’s timeline gives you an idea of what to expect next and opens the door for you to send communication to follow up (that is, if you truly want to work there)
  5. If you could describe your company’s culture in one word, what would it be?
    • This is a question that confident job seekers ask. You know what you can bring to the table and it’s important that this is the right fit for you. If you’re outgoing and free spirited, a conservative environment may not be for you. Pay attention to this answer and decide if it’s a good fit for you!

I always suggest asking at least three questions after you’re asked, “do you have any questions for us?” While some of these questions may seem out-of-the-box, you can read between the lines and learn something you may have not discovered otherwise. Always pay attention to gestures, facial expressions, heavy breathing, or a shift in energy. Employees who are happy with their employers are happy to answer these questions. On the other hand, employees who are disgruntled, do not believe in the mission, or just plain unhappy will provide hints of discontentment while they are answering these questions.

Pay attention! If current employees aren’t happy, there is a good chance that you may not be the happiest there either.

Here’s an example. I once asked a panel to describe their culture. They rolled their eyes (a couple smirked) and explained to me that there is no culture there. One panelist tried to save face and tell me that its very “professional.” I was thrown off, but still took the job. After only a couple months, I found out that their “professional” really meant impatient, intolerant, rigid and forceful. My fellow coworkers were defeated, depressed, and I often found many of them crying on their lunch breaks.

I encourage you to pay attention! Watch the signs and put yourself in a position where you do not have to settle for an environment that may not be the best for you.

Each employer and situation is different, which means each set of questions that you need to ask, may vary.

Tell me what your specific scenario is and I will help you come up with a game plan on questions to ask!

Better yet, tell me about a recent experience and we can discuss it! Leave a comment below or send me an email at [email protected]  

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Hey there!

Chelsea Jay Resume Writer & Career Coach

I'm Chelsea Jay

As your coach, I'm here to remind you that you can redefine your career at any point in time & for any reason.

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