Thursday, July 3, 2008

Questions to ask during an interview:

I am a co-host (one of four) of a weekly Internet-based radio show (archives can be found at, click on 'radio show'. Every week, the four hosts tackle one subject, and discuss this subject from our own areas of expertise. Last Tuesday, the subject was "Key Questions To Ask In Your Business". During my segment, I discussed questions that job seekers should ask during an interview.
This is a big point of interest for my clients. Everyone knows that at the end of interviewer, you will be asked, "Do you have any questions for me?".
If this is the first interview, it's still the discovery phase. What I mean by this is you (the job-seeker) need to assess the company, the manager, the team and the environment in order to properly determine if it's a good fit for you. How do you do this? Ask questions that dig deep. Ask questions that will peel back the layers to really find out what you need to know. Here are a few of my faves:

1) If I were hired and able to prove my worth, what would be the typical career path of someone in my position?

2) How does your company measure employee performance and how often is this done?

3) In your opinion, what is the best part of this job?

4) How long have you worked for this company?

5) When do you think you will be making a hiring decision? (This could determine whether you send an email thank you or a handwritten note.)

6) (For salespeople) Where will I get my leads? (You want to spend your time in sales presentations, not trying to generate your next prospect.)

7) May I accompany you on a sales call?

8) May I have a tour of the office?

9) What problem do you hope to solve by filling this position: higher profits, increased sales, closing an out-of-reach client, team building, training in new procedures/technology? (At this point, your task is to show how you can help the company achieve that goal. Show that you can do the job. Be prepared to highlight the steps that you would take to solve the employer's problem and to reach the employer's goal. Show the manager how you think and how you work. Show how the company will profit from hiring you. "Be ready to tackle the issue of profitability: How is your way of doing this work going to reduce costs or increase revenues? Put a number on it. The number doesn't have to be right, but you should be prepared to defend it intelligently.)

10) What advice would you offer to the person who is hired for this position?

And the very last question you should ALWAYS ask is…

11) I am very interested in this position. Is there any other information I can provide to you to assure you that I’m the best candidate?

What do you think about this list? Can you see yourself asking these in your next interview? Would you like to add any? Comment away, the floor is yours!


Anonymous said...

What a great list of questions! As a hiring manager, I plan to think about how I would answer many of these questions -- and as someone who has a job interview coming up shortly, I plan to choose a couple of these to ask my interviewer.

Cristina said...

Dear Lauren - I like to ask questions to help "showcase" what I have to offer as well as to find out more about the personality and expectations of the company and people I will be working with. In addition to the excellent questions you have already posted, I would like to ad the following.

1. Are there any parts of my resume you would like me to elaborate on?
2. What characteristics do you think makes an ideal employee?
3. What results do you like to see a person produce in this job?
4. Describe the work environment in which you and your employees are most productive, happy and work best together.
5. What competencies are required to perform this job?
6. How is performance measured and reviewed?
7. Could you describe a typical day in this job?
8. What are the best aspects of this job as well as the most challenging?
9. How does this position fit into the overall structure of the company?
10. Please elaborate more on how this position accomplishes the company’s mission.
11. Does the company have a generalist or specialist focus?
12. What are some of the most difficult problems facing your team?
13. How long do people usually stay in this job?
14. What opportunities are there for advancement and professional growth in this company?

SueKomers said...

As an executive recruiter, I tell my candidates that I think it is also important to ask questions that are about the "big picture". This shows that they understand business and how every person impacts an organization. The candidate also needs to understand the company and its vision in order to be sure that this is the right company for them.

A couple of good questions are:

In what ways has this organization been most successful in terms of products and services over the years, particularly more recently?

What significant changes do you foresee in the near future?

SueKomers said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
nofrets said...

Here's my 2 cents:

What qualities will the successful candidate possess?

What companies do you admire? Why?

What are the top three projects the hired person will need to tackle first?

Brian Carney
Executive Producer
Inbox Media

DreamSpeed said...

Hello Lauren ~

My favorite questions to ask as a job-seeker are:

'If someone were asked what it is like to work for you - how would they respond?'
'Do ou like to have fun while on the job? - If so, is there a story?'

As an interviwer, I like to find out if the applicant has a sense of humor and can think on their feet. I usually set the 'interview room' up with one or two items that woudl naturally make someone laugh or comment. Like a silly desk toy on their chair or a humorous sentence on a whiteboard- to see how they react. Or to ask the question -

'If there was an elephant in the refrigerator, how would you get it out?''
If they smile I know I've got someone that knows how to not take life seriously. (the answer is normally answered by kids under 7 the best - you take the elephant out of the frig!)

An HR VP posed this to a bunch of friends as we were sitting around on holiday as a 'twist question' he liked to pose to prospective Sr Management hires... many failed to smile and of course most analyzed it to death - where a child looks at it point blank!

Sue Hollingshead

ResuMAYDAY said...

These questions were sent to me by a few former clients. Thanks, you two!
K.B.'s questions:
1)What accomplishments in its history is the company most proud of?
2) What is your company's policy on attending seminars, workshops, and other training opportunities?
3) Do the most successful people in the company tend to come from one area of the company, such as sales or engineering, or do they rise from a cross section of areas?
4) What are the attributes of this job that you'd like to see improved?
5) What kinds of processes are in place to help me work collaboratively?

B.H.'s questions:
What are the most significant challenges facing the company over the next several years? What plans are currently in place to deal with those challenges? How is the position expected to contribute toward dealing with those challenges?

ResuMAYDAY said...

Jim Accetta of Truly Human Coaching also came up with a few gems. You can visit him at
Jim's questions:

Why do I want to work for you?

What do you like most/least about some of the folks that have worked for you/had this position?

What are some of the things I might not like, or that others don't like about working for your company?

What are the traits you look for in the person for this position?

When can I start?

Vishal said...

Here are few things which is really important to me. I want ti know my role and what difference i make in the company.

How do you see me fit into your organization and team? - this basically tells me what kind decision power i would have and how important my job is in the company.

How open is the company and Dept in given more responsibility?

What percentage of time i am allowed to do work on new creative ideas? (like google - 80-20 rule)