Job Seekers: Top Five Questions to Ask at a Job Interview

Does this sound familiar? You’re wrapping up an interview and feeling pretty good about how it went, when the interviewer asks: “So, do you have any questions for me?” Yeah you do, of course you do. But rather than ask those questions, you simply smile and shake your head. “No, I think I have all the information I need!” you say.

You knew this part of the interview was coming, and you definitely have questions, so what gives?

Maybe we’re hard-wired to flee the scene of an interview as soon as humanly possible. After all, a major source of anxiety and stress just ended. Who doesn’t want to get the heck out of there, and fast? But here’s why you need to squash that flight instinct and stick around to ask a couple of key questions.

This moment in the interview is crucial for getting valuable insider info about the company – a place where you may spend more than 40 hours of your life every week. Kind of a big deal. And you owe it to yourself to ask the questions needed to make an informed decision.

So, here you go. Five simple, yet insightful, questions to ask at your next job interview:

*Note: There are just a few minutes at the end of most interviews to ask a question or two, so don’t overdo it. Pick what’s most important to you, and save others for the second interview, and/or a different interviewer.

1. What is the reason for this opening?

This is a basic question, and it’s not asked enough. The answer to this question can give you important insight into what your first few months (or more) will be like on the job. Is the opening due to attrition, growth, reorganization, or a shift in company priorities?

If it’s a new role for the company, you can expect to spend more time building systems and processes, and for the headaches that naturally occur as a new role evolves. However, it probably means that you’ll also enjoy a wider scope of influence overall, and the opportunity to directly shape the direction of the role.

If this is a replacement role, follow-up questions could include: What is the average tenure of an employee in this role? What progress have others made in this role that you’d like to see continue? What would you say are the common traits of people who have been successful in this role? What would you like to see change or improve with this new hire?

2. What do you personally enjoy most about working here?

This is a great question to ask because you are prompting the interviewer to “get real” for a moment and share what they personally like about working for the organization. It can be very telling. If the interviewer struggles to answer this question or gives a rehearsed response, that’s something to note. On the flip side, if the interviewer’s answer aligns with your own work values, it can further confirm the opportunity as a good fit for you.

3. Can you tell me about the most and least desirable aspects of the culture within the (XYZ) department?

While understanding overall company culture is important – teams, departments, and groups all tend to have their own unique dynamics. Sometimes they are similar to the company’s culture, and sometimes quite different. This question gives you the opportunity to learn more specifically about what it will be like to work with the team you’ll interact with more than any other group in the organization.

4. How is success measured in this role, and by whom?

What are the guidelines and systems in place that will determine if you are meeting expectations? Are there performance reviews? Are there productivity guidelines, ratings, or surveys that measure your success? If regular reports are conducted, what factors are they tracking/measuring?

Even if there isn’t a formal system in place, someone will be responsible for judging your performance – and it’s important for you to understand who that is, and how your success will be evaluated.

5. Now that we’ve had a chance to talk, do you have any specific concerns about my qualifications or experience for this role?

If the answer is yes, acknowledge the concern and provide evidence to diminish it. For example, if the concern is lack of experience with a certain software or platform, site a time in a prior position when you picked up a similar skill quickly, and be specific:

“I understand that concern, but I think you will find that I learn new technology extremely quickly. In my previous role, I was proficient with their database in half the time of a typical new employee, and within eight weeks had become the office go-to person for database questions.”

One of the best perks about working with Advent Talent while in job search is that we often have the inside scoop on things like culture, manager personality, department dynamic and performance expectations BEFORE you step foot into an interview. We’re all about making things easier, and there’s never a fee charged to our candidates or employees.

View our job openings, or learn more about working with Advent Group.

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