Too many job seekers view interviews as one-sided – a time for them to be poked and prodded by potential employers. And yes, interviews put interviewees on the spot. But while interviews are designed to help employers learn about prospective employees, they’re also a great way for job seekers to learn more about a company.
Interviews aren’t only as a test of a job seeker’s skills. They should also help determine how well a potential employee will fit in a certain position or company. And just as you want to present yourself in the best light, your interviewer will want to present the position and the company in the best way possible. That means that to get a good idea of fit, you need to dig a little deeper.
The best way to determine fit? Asking your interviewer questions, and delving deeper into management style and corporate culture. Here are 7 questions to help you get the real scoop on how you’ll fit in at a potential new workplace.
1. What’s the largest problem facing your staff?
Asking this question has a few benefits. First, it makes you appear concerned with and forward-thinking about company problems. It also helps you identify the problems that may soon be yours to deal with. If your interviewer says a big issue is constant meetings or long hours, you may find that you won’t have the freedom from bureaucracy or flexible scheduling you were promised in the job description.
2. Who held this position last, and why did they move on?
Every interviewee should ask this question, because it can provide important insights about necessary skills or potential concerns. If the person who previously held the position didn’t succeed, the interviewer will typically tell you about the skills that they lacked – obviously important considerations in hiring a replacement. If an interviewer is evasive about why a predecessor left, it could be a red flag – try to dig deeper and find out the true reason.
3. What does this company value the most?
Most companies list their values on their websites and in their marketing materials. But getting an answer from someone who works there is much more valuable. Listen carefully to the interviewer’s response to see if it matches the company’s advertised values. Then, decide whether those values match up with your own. If the company says they value community responsibility, but the interviewer says they value results, they might not practice what they preach – at the very least, they have a serious issue with miscommunication.
4. What are the company’s biggest strengths – and weaknesses?
This question is a great one, especially since you’ve likely already been asked about your own strengths and weaknesses. Though you can’t always rely on an interviewer to be totally candid, especially when it comes to talking about a company’s weaknesses, his or her reaction will probably tell you something about what he thinks. And, in a best case scenario, you can get a closer, more honest look at both the positive and negative sides of your potential future workplace.
5. What is your performance review process like?
A company’s performance review process can tell you a lot about its culture – how much they value feedback, how they feel about employee advancement and more. If you get the sense that a company’s performance review process is more of a formality than a meaningful opportunity, it may be a sign that it’s not the right fit, especially if you value growth. Asking this question is also a great way to find out about advancement opportunities, without sounding like you want to use the current opening as a springboard to bigger and better things.
6. How often does your staff meet?
Communication is important, and how well – and often – a company communicates is an important factor in how well you’ll fit in. Asking this question provides insight into whether employees are included in and informed about decisions, and whether collaboration is encouraged or just given lip service. But keep in mind – meetings aren’t the only way to communicate, especially with technology. Also asks if there are other ways the company keeps employees informed, such as a company blog or internal memos.
What questions do you ask interviewers? How do you determine whether a position or a company will be a good fit?