Knowing How to Make Each Question Count
Written by HRCap, Inc.
February 9, 2023
As a job seeker, it's essential to determine if a company and a role are a good fit. One of the best ways to do this is by asking meaningful questions at the end of the interview. This not only shows interest in the company and the position, but it also provides valuable insights into the company culture, growth opportunities, and role expectations. After all, job interviews are a two-way process.
[Related: Top 14 Tips on How to Ace that Job Interview]
Asking the right questions also shows interviewers that the candidate has done his research and is well-informed about the company.88% of hiring decision-makers agree that an informed candidate, who is prepared for the interview and asks pertinent questions, is a quality candidate. Therefore, when the interviewer asks, "Do you have any questions for us," make sure to have questions prepared to stand out as a quality candidate.
We highly recommend all job seekers make each question count by asking critical questions that are not obvious and have yet to be answered during the interview. The following are 35 critical questions that job seekers can choose to ask:
7 Questions About the Role
It is crucial for candidates to ask questions about the role at the end of the interview because there might be valuable information that was not addressed during the interview. However, it is equally important to avoid asking questions that have already been discussed during the interview or can be easily answered by simply viewing the job description. These critical questions can help candidates to delve deeper into the responsibilities and expectations of the role and show their interest in the position.
1. Can you describe a typical day in this role?
This question helps candidates assess the quality and quantity of the workload, preparing them mentally for the job duties.
2. Is this a newly created role or a replacement?
This question can help applicants understand why this role was created and further indicate the company’s growth and job stability.
3. What are the biggest challenges I might face in this position?
By understanding the biggest challenges, candidates will know what to expect going into the role. Candidates can also frame their answers by sharing with the interviewer specific examples of when they encountered similar challenges and what solution they came up with.
4. What do you believe is most essential for success in this role? [What does success look like in this role?]
Job applicants can anchor their answers on what is most critical to the role and most important to the interviewer. This question can provide greater insight into the interviewer's opinion of what they think is most important, which may differ from the job description's version of the most critical skills. By identifying these skills, candidates can highlight their strengths and how they are an excellent fit for the position and will succeed.
5. Is there anything I can prepare or learn beforehand for a smooth transition?
Candidates will show the interviewer their willingness to learn and prepare, indicating learning agility, adaptability, and growth potential.
6. Can you share your expectations for this role in the first six months?
This question gives job seekers insight into the company's priorities and what they expect from the person filling this role in the short term.
7. How does performance in this role get measured and evaluated?
Interviewees can understand how the organization defines success, which can further impact their job satisfaction and future opportunities for growth and advancement.
7 Questions About the Company
Candidates are highly encouraged to conduct thorough research and due diligence on the company. This allows them to ask meaningful, differentiated questions that show they have done their homework and are serious about applying for this role. Candidates should utilize their research to personalize their questions to learn more about the company and to determine if there will be a strong culture fit.
1. Can you tell me more about the company culture? What makes working here unique from anywhere else you've worked?
This question allows job applicants to gain insight into the company's values, norms, and overall work environment. Positive company culture can contribute to job satisfaction and employee retention, so it's vital to get a sense of it early on.
2. What opportunities for professional development and career growth exist within the company?
This question allows a greater understanding of the company's investment in employee growth and development and if they offer opportunities for advancement.
3. Can you share some of the biggest challenges the company is currently facing?
Job applicants can better assess and determine if they can make a meaningful impact despite the current challenges.
4. What are the company's goals for this year, and how does this team work to support hitting those goals?
Asking about the company's goals helps the candidate better align with the organization's priorities and how the role will play a part in their overall mission.
5. What are some of the ways the company celebrates success?
How a company celebrates, recognizes and rewards employees for individual or collective success can demonstrate its values and culture.
6. How does the company deal with change? How has the company changed over the last few years?
Candidates can gain insight into the company's adaptability and performance over the years. By understanding the company's track record, job applicants can also see the potential growth of the company as well as the job stability.
7. How is the executive leadership's management and communication style?
By asking this question, candidates can determine whether they are the right fit with the company culture and the management's work style and values.
7 Questions About the Manager
If the interviewer is the direct hiring manager, it is even more important to ask questions to learn more about their role expectations and their leadership. Asking questions about the manager’s background, experience, and leadership style can help candidates to understand how they lead and interact with the team. These f questions not only help the candidate learn more about the manager but also help to establish rapport with them.
1. What is your leadership style?
Understanding the manager's leadership style can help candidates to know how the manager works, how they set expectations, and how they motivate and support their team.
2. How often do you check in with individuals and the team?
This question allows candidates to know the manager's level of support and communication in the work environment.
3. How do you help your team grow professionally?
Candidates should probe how supportive the manager is in their growth and development. This indicates how much the company values and invests in employee development, which can impact the candidate's decision to join their team and work there long term.
4. Why did you join the company, and how long have you been here?
Candidates can gain valuable insights into the company culture through the manager's personal journey. Knowing the manager's own reason for joining can point to learning more about the company's values and mission. Learning about how long the manager has stayed at the company and how they have continued to grow with the company can highlight their level of job satisfaction.
5. How do you respond when there is conflict on your team?
By understanding how the manager resolves conflict, candidates can gain insights into their leadership style and how the company approaches employee relations, which impacts the overall work experience. We truly believe that the most important leadership traits are change management and conflict resolution.
6. Are there any upcoming projects you're especially interested in?
By asking about future projects, candidates will understand the company's direction and priorities. Additionally, candidates can better understand the potential opportunities for growth and advancement in the company. This question will also indicate to the interviewer that the job applicant is interested in the company's future and is eager to contribute to upcoming projects.
7. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to the younger version of yourself concerning your position today?
Candidates can ask this question to learn from the interviewer's experiences and gain valuable insights into the role's expectations, challenges, and opportunities. This question also could allow job applicants to build greater rapport and meaningful mentorship with the interviewer, regardless of the interview result.
7 Questions About the Team
Asking questions about the team can provide candidates with information on the people that they will be spending the most time within the role. This can be important especially if this position requires collaboration and synergy to be successful. By asking these questions, candidates can get a better idea of the work culture and see if they are a good fit for the team.
1. Can you describe the team I'll be working with?
This question provides insight into the team dynamic, potential coworkers' personalities, and the level of collaboration and support job seekers can expect.
2. Who will I work with most closely?
Candidates can understand the team structure and the individuals they will interact with daily.
3. What types of skills is the team missing that you're looking to fill with a new hire?
This question allows insight into the necessary skills and experiences to succeed. The interviewee can then anchor on those skills to further elaborate on prior experiences that are highly relevant or translatable.
4. Does this role have any direct reports?
Candidates can confirm the scope and responsibilities of the role either immediately or long term. Certain roles may not require managing direct reports to start but gradually building and leading a team down the road.
5. What would you say are the team's biggest strengths and challenges?
By asking this question, job applicants can better understand the team dynamics and the potential challenges they will face if hired. Knowing the team's strengths and areas of improvement, candidates can also see if they are a good fit for the role and the team.
6. Is there a plan to make additional hires in this department in the next six months?
This question can provide candidates with information on the company's plans for expansion and growth, which may affect the level of support they can expect in terms of resources and hiring new staff. By understanding the company's future hiring plans, candidates can determine their career growth and stability within the company
7. What other departments does this team interact with frequently, and in what ways?
Asking about the team's interactions with other departments can provide the candidate with information about the company's organizational structure and the level of inter-departmental collaboration. This can also shed light on career pathing opportunities, should the job applicant have intentions to grow with the organization long-term in various functional areas.
7 Closing and Follow-up Questions
When wrapping up their conversation with the interviewer, job applicants should ask questions that help clarify any misunderstandings or better solidify their candidacy. Closing questions can also help the candidate understand the next steps in the process and know what to expect moving forward. Most importantly, candidates can leave a positive final impression and ensure they have all the information they need to determine if this is the right opportunity for them.
1. Can I answer any final questions for you?
This question allows the candidate to clarify misunderstandings, elaborate on specific work experience, and reinforce their qualifications.
2. Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?
Candidates can show they are willing to go the extra mile and provide additional information to support their candidacy.
3. Do you have any concerns with my candidacy? Do you have any suggestions on what I can work on to strengthen my candidacy?
Candidates can better understand the interviewer's perspective and improve their chances of getting hired by addressing any concerns they may have. Regardless of the interview result, this can serve as meaningful tips and constructive feedback for professional development.
4. Is there anything you believe would be valuable for me to understand about the company or the role we haven't had a chance to discuss yet?
By covering this question, job applicants can get valuable information on the company or the role that the interviewer did not address during the interview.
5. Can you share the timeline or potential next steps in the hiring process? Will there be additional interviewers that I will be meeting with?
This question provides interviewees with a clear understanding of the next steps in the process and when to expect to hear back about the decision. If there are additional interviewers, candidates can prepare for the next round of interviews. This information can help candidates manage their expectations and avoid confusion or frustration when waiting to hear back.
6. When are you looking to fill this position, and when can I expect to hear back from you?
Knowing when the employer is looking to fill this position can be crucial for the candidate’s job search process as they transition out of their current role. This can also help candidates to figure out logistics if the position requires relocation, visas, notice period communications, and more.
7. I would love to follow up with an email. Would you be willing to share your email address?
Candidates can politely and respectfully ask for the interviewer’s email address; however, it is common for hiring managers to ask to streamline all conversations through the HR team. If that is the case, candidates should send their personalized thank you letters to the recruiter or HR professional that set up the interview and politely ask them to forward them to their respective interviewer.
Asking these 35 questions in a job interview gives job seekers a clearer understanding of the company and the role, allowing them to make an informed decision about whether or not it's the right fit. Candidates should do their due diligence in researching the company and then ask relevant questions with professionalism and respect. Getting the answers to these critical questions can make all the difference in finding the next great opportunity.
[Related: 7 Questions to Ask After an Interview]
At HRCap, we connect with all our candidates prior to our confirmed client interviews to help them prepare, coach on interview skills, share greater insight into the client organization and build a meaningful relationship with them beyond the context of the interviews.
Sources: HRCap, Harvard Business Review, Indeed, Ripplematch, Business Insider, Zety, The Muse, WayUp
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