Though it may sometimes feel like it, a job interview is not a one-way interrogation. Consider an interview as more of a dialogue, an exchange between two parties looking for a mutually beneficial relationship.
It’s commonplace to have a chance to ask some questions of your own at the end of the interview, about the organization, the role and next steps. So what should you ask?
Approach your questions from a place of curiosity and base them off of genuine expectations and desires you have for your next role and employer. This question period can also be an opportunity to show off some of your soft skills in your interview, namely curiosity, insight, communication, etc.
Rather than focusing on what you think you “should” ask, think about what is really important to you and what you would like to know before you commit to making this team and company a major part of your life.
Here are some examples of questions you can ask in your next interview:
1 – What tools, strategies and systems does the company and team use to stay organized?
This question shows the employer that organization is a high priority for you and can help prepare you for what that process might look like with your potential future team. Lack of organization and processes can also be rampant amongst smaller organizations, so this can help weed out jobs that aren’t a good fit, if they don’t have an answer.
2 – What is your communication style as a leader?
Opposing communication styles can be difficult to work with, especially with your manager. Knowing in advance how they prefer to communicate, including whether that is verbally vs. over email, or Slack and how often they like to communicate can help set you up for success from the beginning.
3 – What does leadership mean to you and how is it implemented on your team?
Pay close attention to how this question is answered. Do they provide a surface-level answer? Or do they have a deep understanding of their own leadership style and how leadership is implemented across all levels of the organization? A strong leader not only can distill down what makes them a leader, but will proudly share with you how leadership works on all levels of their team.
4 – How would you describe your company culture?
While we aren’t all looking for foosball tables in the break room, or morning yoga classes in lieu of team meetings – what kind of culture (if any) does the company have? Is there flexibility in your work day? Work from home vs. in office? Summer Fridays? Zoom-free Fridays? Are you expected to answer your phone outside work hours?
5 – What are the expectations and goals for this role over the next six months?
Ask this instead of, “What does an average work day look like for this role?” I used to ask this question in every interview and don’t think I have once got a straight answer. Instead, ask about expectations, goals and what the next six months look like. With this question, it’s easier to gain a broader perspective of what your role will look like day-to-day in the context of what you’ll be working towards. This question can also tell you about the team’s ability to organize, plan, set goals and look to the future. If they don’t know what the next six months look like, you may want to reconsider a position with them.
6 – What is the team’s greatest weakness? OR What is something the organization is currently struggling with and what are you doing to overcome it?
If you’ve interviewed before, this question likely looks familiar. I like to throw it back to the interviewer. Likely, whatever that weakness is, is something that will affect you and your daily life should you accept the role. Asking this question not only gives you insight into what might be difficult about the job, but also tells you if your company is looking inward and can acknowledge their own flaws and most importantly, if they are actively working to improve.
Remember, there’s no prescription for what questions you need to, or should ask in your interview. The most important thing you can do for your career, your success and happiness in any position is to ask the questions that get to the crux of what you are looking for out of a job, career, or leader. Take the questions above and this approach and design some questions that fit your personal curiosities and needs from an employer.
Are you currently preparing for an interview? Style Nine to Five founder, Christie Lohr offers Interview Prep, where she will guide you through the tough questions, before you can start asking some of the above!
Sheila O’Neill is a creative, innovative and inspiring storyteller with a background in fashion.
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