I would hate to think that you would take a new job at a place where they didn’t at some point stop the interview process to ask you “Do you have any questions for us?”
All good employers do that. If you don’t get the chance to ask your questions, don’t even think about taking the job! Remember what your Aunt Liz always tells you: they will never love you more than they love you just when they’re trying to recruit you. If you feel like chopped liver at that stage in the interview pipeline, run away fast.
They’re probably going to ask you “Do you have any questions to ask us about the job?” You have to have some questions ready to ask. Ask the HR person about issues concerning the employee benefits programs.
A lot of department managers don’t have that information top of mind and anyway, it’s the HR person’s job to share that kind of information with job candidates. When you’re interviewing with your hiring manager a/k/a Your Possible Next Boss, ask questions about the job itself — questions about the job responsibilities and issues you are likely to run into.
Your best questions in a job interview will not come from a script. They will come from your own brain, as you listen to your hiring manager talking about the position. Questions will naturally occur to you.
This script lays out how one job-seeker got deep into the purpose and structure of the job. When you do that — when you use your interview time with your hiring manager to spin the table and talk about the pain behind the job ad, rather than sitting like a sheep in the chair and bleating out the answers to questions they ask you — two good things happen.
For one thing, you learn a lot more about the job by asking ‘pain’-type questions than by answering one question and sitting in silence to wait for the next one. The even cooler thing that happens when you get into a pithy pain conversation on a job interview is that the hiring manager falls in love with you, professionally speaking.
He or she is dying to hire you, because you’re the only job candidate who got into the guts of the job to talk about what isn’t working.
Consultants have been doing this forever with their prospects. That’s how they turn prospects into clients.
No consultant worth his or her salt is going to go on a meeting with a possible new client (not getting paid, remember) if the prospective client says “I’m going to ask all the questions.” The consultant will say “See ya!”
A job interview is no different. If no one wants to hear your questions, you can actually get up and leave the interview, and I hope you do that one day. It’s very empowering to remember that you can stand up at any moment and hit the bricks. It’s your time. If they’re not using your time appropriately, get lost!
Your best questions will emerge organically from the conversation, but you may want to get the answers to some of the questions on our list, also. You probably won’t have time to ask all of them, so pick your favorites and jot them on your notepad before you leave home to go to the job interview.
1. Which items would you expect to see handled and behind you three months from now, after this new person starts — such that you’d be deliriously happy you hired him or her?
2. Who (by description, not names) are the internal and external clients of the person in this role, and what are each of those groups of clients looking to receive from this person?
3. What are the most important milestones or yardsticks by which you evaluate a person’s performance in this job?
4. What part of the job, from your perspective, will require the longest or most complicated learning curve? How will your new hire get the learning s/he needs to come up that curve — by trying things, by interviewing other employees, or in another way?
5. Can you tell me about the composition of the team that you manage, and how this job description we’re discussing fits into the rest of the department?
6. What are your department’s goals for 2019? Where did those goals come from — did you devise them yourself, or in collaboration with your team, or did they come from higher up in the organization or emerge another way?
7. Who is your boss, and what is his or her job all about? How does your role fit into his or hers? How does your boss’s job intersect with the topmost goals of the organization?
8. What constitutes a workday here? I’m sure there is a boundless supply of work to keep everyone busy 24/7/365, so how do you decide when to go home? What are the norms around working on the weekend and in the evenings, answering email and voice mail messages after hours, and so on?
9. What major events or trends going on in the organization or in the recent past shape your 2019 plans, and what major events or themes do you envision coming to the fore over the next 12 months?
10. How did you get to your current role — what’s your career story?
11. Can you tell me your stance and the company’s stance, if it has one, on social media, using LinkedIn, having a presence on Twitter, and so on? What are the cultural norms around using social media here?
12. What is the typical career path for a person in this role, after doing a tremendous job in this position? Is there a history of folks moving from this role into other jobs in the organization? I would love to hear some of those stories.
13. What is the history of this job? Was there someone in the role, and if so, what happened to create a vacancy now? If it is a new role, what is the story behind the emergence of this position? Did you have internal applicants for the job?
I ask because if I should be offered this job and accept, I would be very sensitive to internal currents that might be associated with a person who already works here having interviewed for the job without receiving an offer.
14. How do you and your team communicate? Do you have a regular staff meeting and if so, what is the format for that meeting? How do you like to check in with your team members — through face-to-face one-on-one meetings, or in another way? How do you track your team members’ progress against milestones? How do you prefer for your team members to communicate with you — via email, or face to face or in another way?
15. If you could be any kind of animal, what kind would you be? Just kidding!
Have fun interviewing your next boss. If you use a few of these questions that speak to you, it should be an enlightening experience for both of you. The truth is that most hiring managers have never thought about the majority of these questions before. You aren’t getting paid for your time on the interview, but you’re coaching your next boss anyway!