Often is the case that we view the interview process from the wrong perspective. Cue a heady mix of excitement and nervousness, often underpinned by standard interview preparation that includes researching the firm, along with the person who will be conducting the interview.
However, instead of letting the interview nerves get to you, and perceiving the process as passive, you should see it as a two-way street.
An interview gives the candidate an opportunity to assess a potential employer in the same way that they are assessing you; because both parties need to be assured that the other is a great fit.
With this in mind, it’s important to take advantage of this opportunity and go into the interview with questions that will enable you to actively participate and determine if the workplace is aligned with your professional goals and personal values. By asking questions at an interview, you will also change the interviewers perception of you, and help you to appear intelligent, interested and engaged, giving you an edge over other candidates.
Below, we have compiled a list of thoughtful and forward-thinking questions that will allow you to glean in-depth information about the business, and truly determine if this is an organisation that you would like to be a part of. (Scroll down to see the answers.)
- How is success measured and celebrated in the organisation?
- Who are your major competitors/what is your share of the market?
- How would you describe the company’s culture?
- What type of soft skills help employees in this company succeed?
- How does this role contribute to the businesses goals?
- Where do you see this company in five years?
- How often does the business recruit?
- What are the known challenges associated with the role?
It’s natural that we want our hard work to be recognised beyond our salary. By asking this question, you can delve into the company culture with regards to how employees are made to feel valued.
Upon asking a question such as this, you not only show that you are goal-orientated, but also that you don’t shy away from accountability and instead that you welcome it. It shows you want to understand how this behaviour and initiative will be acknowledged.
This question may seem a little bold, but what it does is demonstrate that you are already taking a comprehensive approach and thinking about the bigger picture – the industry in which they reside in.
From this answer you are able to learn about the brand positioning and their goals.
Finding a workplace that possesses the right cultural fit for you, is imperative. As we spend on average one third of our lives at work, it’s important that the workplace has a philosophy that is conducive to supported and motivated employees.
It’s likely that you have managed to get a sense of this from their questions, mannerisms and information that has been discussed throughout the interview. However, by asking the question directly, you will be able to assess whether employee happiness is a priority.
It’s likely that by the time you enter the interview, you are aware of the hard skills required for the position. By enquiring about the soft skills, you are showing a holistic approach to the role and thinking about how you could succeed.
Many candidates fear asking questions such as these because the concern is that they would be giving the impression of running before they can walk. But this will indicate to those in the interview that you are a dynamic individual, looking for a long-term position that you can grow and develop in, and a business that offers an opportunity to advance in.
It also provides you with an insight into the skills that are held in high regard by the company and its management values.
The answer to this question offers direction and guidance when it comes to how the role impacts overall business processes and ambitions, and what would be expected of the person undertaking the role.
It catapults you into the limelight as a candidate who is demonstrating they want to explore how they can self-manage and prioritise high-value activities.
It also opens up discussions about the opportunity for you to progress and the role that each individual in the company plays when it comes to achieving success.
This is another question that communicates to the hiring manager that you are thinking long term, and about the bigger picture of both the role and the overarching business.
This question helps you to determine the level of growth that the company is striving to achieve, and in turn, your role. It also allows you to compare these growth proposals with any plans that you had in mind for your own career and professional development, and if the two are compatible and mutually beneficial.
Again, you may have some concerns that this question will seem to be a little forward. But by asking it, you gain direct information about how quickly the business is growing or how effective it is at retaining staff. If the answer indicates that they spend a lot of time recruiting, but aren’t growing the team, alarm bells might ring.
Once this discussion point has been opened, you could delve deeper and find out what the main reason for the turnover is and any action the company is proactively taking.
This question gives you a chance to peek behind the curtain, and explore the information that could potentially make or break your reasons for wanting to work for the business.
By asking this question, you indicate to the hiring manager that you already picturing yourself in the role and want to understand the challenges so you can begin to think of initiatives to overcome them.
This question demonstrates that you don’t shy away from challenges; you proactively tackle them and want to be prepared.
It also helps you understand some of the less desirable aspects of a role, giving you a holistic view of the role and if it is the right fit for you.
It would be overambitious to plan to ask each one of these questions in your interviews. We advise that after carrying out your initial pre-interview research, determine which ones will give you the insight that you require to be able to make an informed decision about whether the organisation is aligned with your goals and values, and will offer the environment and experience that will enable you, not only to perform your role, but to excel.