Evaluating a job opportunity: Five questions to ask in an interview

143623934 156d2d5098 Evaluating a job opportunity: Five questions to ask in an interview
cc Evaluating a job opportunity: Five questions to ask in an interview photo credit: Stéfan

I’ve said before that it’s important to ask questions in a job interview, and one area of interest is the company culture and how it meshes with your own needs.

With a job search mission statement you already have a road map for the type of opportunity that will be a good fit for you. Here are some sample questions to ask in an interview that can help you to evaluate a potential new position against your needs:

1. What’s it like to work here? (Company culture) A question this open ended will get a wide range of responses, but you’re likely to hear things that you wouldn’t hear otherwise. This works particularly well if you have a series of interviews with different people — you can look for trends that will allow you to evaluate whether it’s one person’s opinion or part of the culture.

2. How long have you been in management? How did you transition into your current role? (Management style, growth opportunities) This is particularly pertinent for your prospective manager, as their explanation of how they became a manager can help you identify whether they sought out management or whether it was a by-product of their previous success, and how they felt about that transition. For everyone else, it helps you get a feel for how the organization selects, grooms and promotes talent.

3. What are your expectations for this role? How do you define success? (Management style, job responsibilities) Oftentimes a job description is a full catalogue of responsibilities, while the true focus of the job is in two or three key areas — this question will help you feel that out. Also, you can take cues from where the interviewer focuses their time in their response to see what kind of manager they are: do they talk about weekly results or end-of-project outcomes? Do they seem to want continual communication or is self-sufficiency a success factor?

4. What do you think is the biggest area of contribution for this role? (Job responsibilities) This is the organization’s “pain point,” the reason the position exists or the problem that they’re hoping to solve. In future interviews and follow-up communications, you can reaffirm your ability to handle this issue. Keep in mind, however, that various people may have different views on the reason of this position, and they may all be right.

5. Tell me about previous people in this role: where are they now? (Company culture, growth opportunities) This question tells you one of two things: either most people are still with the company and have gone on to bigger and better things, or most have left the organization. The former is an indication of a strong manager and good talent management practices. The latter is a red flag.

How about you? What questions do you like to ask in an interview?

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