While some interviews may feel more like interrogations, they shouldn’t. If you need help understanding which unique interview questions to ask an employer, or what questions to ask at the end of an interview, view key 8 questions to ask an interviewer below.
QUESTION #1: What do the day-to-day responsibilities of the role look like?
Writer Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Success and happiness in a job boils down to contentment with the nitty-gritty of the everyday.
QUESTION #2: What are the company’s values? What characteristics do you look for in employees in order to represent those values?
Dig deep to get more information on company culture. You’ll get insight into what is most important for the company as a whole, and what it values in the individuals who work there.
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QUESTION #3: What’s your favorite part about working at the company?
It’s important to get a sense of your interviewer’s opinions about working there. If enthusiasm flows easily, that’s a great sign. If it doesn’t, that is worth noting too.
QUESTION #4: What does success look like in this position, and how do you measure it?
It’s crucial to have a deep understanding of how a company measures success. What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the role? How, and how often, are they measured?
QUESTION #5: Are there opportunities for professional development? If so, what do those look like?
When asking this question, you’re looking to key into whether there are opportunities for growth and whether the company has a Learning & Development program. Stagnation is a big red flag, so be alert!
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QUESTION #6: Who will I be working most closely with?
This question will help you get a better sense of the dynamics of who your collaborators will be. Jot down names, ask for titles. It’s important to evaluate how cross-functional the role is.
QUESTION #7: What do you see as the most challenging aspect of this job?
Knowing the good is just as important as knowing the not-so-good. You want to understand the scale of the problems you’ll be dealing with.
QUESTION #8: Is there anything about my background or resume that makes you question whether I am a good fit for this role?
This question displays that you’re highly invested in the job and committed to understanding your prospects as a candidate. Plus, it will also allow you an opportunity to respond to any potential concerns. Lastly, this question is best to ask at the end of the interview to gauge where you might stand within the job process.
By leveraging these unique interview questions to ask employers, you’ll be able to have a leg up on the competition. Be sure to incorporate the above interview questions throughout your conversation to ensure success!
An interview is a two-way street. Ask these questions to determine if the company is the right fit for you. [TWEET]
A job interview should be a two-way conversation. While the hirer is trying to determine if you are a good fit for the position you, the candidate, should use the interview to figure out if the company is a place where you want to work.
According to former recruiter Barbara Saunders, now a small business teacher and coach, here are some examples of questions you should ask during an interview and why you should ask them.
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1. Is this a new role or has this role existed previously with your company?
If it’s a new role: Why did you create this role?
If it’s an existing role: Are you adding a person or replacing a person?
If the company is replacing a person: Why did the last person leave?
You want to get a sense of how your role or position fits into the rest of the team or company. Does the company want you to carry out a clear set of objectives or tasks due to growth or are you mitigating change that has already happened? Are you managing the status quo? Will you be solving a problem the company hasn’t yet really solved and expects the new employee to solve? A new position might have had a lot of turnover due to reorganization or new management.
2. Who are the main people and groups I’d be collaborating with?
This helps you understand your place in the hierarchy better than titles do. Position titles vary so much from company to company and entity to entity. One organization’s Project Coordinator is a project manager overseeing the work of several groups while the same position at another organization is a consulting, project-based position that is the administrative support for a single group.
3. What are some of the paths you see in your company for the person who holds this position?
This question can help you understand the culture of the company and will likely bring out stories, albeit theoretical ones or really vague ones. Do the employees “go on” or advance to other positions outside of the company? (This is popular in finance, publishing, and entertainment industries.) Are the career paths of successful employees linear (are promotions and raises standard), or do people make lateral moves and have unusual paths? Do people settle in for decades in the same job or move around?
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Bring a pen and paper and be prepared to write notes during the interview. If the interview goes well and it looks like it’s a fit for both parties, you can use your answers to these questions as notes for the thank you note and follow-up note you’ll write later to assure your strong candidacy. (Hint hint on the thank you note and follow-up note.)
I’ve done a fair amount of interviewing in the search for my “dream career,” and I’ve also had the luxury of being the interviewer enough times to know what both sides of the table are looking (or should be looking) to get out of the interview process.
The interviewee is often so focused on trying to give the “right” answers and impress the interviewer that they forget to take the opportunity to get some key insights into the position and company to find out if they even want the position.
I’ve read countless lists on “What questions should you ask when being interviewed?” and they are usually 30-100 questions long. While these lists are great, and I often review them before interviews myself, I think there are truly three key questions that are must-ask. These questions are helpful in alerting you to any red flags and can give you insight on what the position and company are truly like. They’re also great gateways for you to lead into follow-up questions that might help explain things to you even further.
So, in addition to asking questions specific to the company that show you are intuitive, genuinely interested and engaged in your industry, here are my top three questions to help figure out if the position truly is a good match for you:
1.”What Will Be the Biggest Challenge for the Person Filling This Position?”
This question gives you insight into what you might be walking into, as well as the opportunity to explain how you are qualified to handle the challenge. Only elaborate if you truly are qualified, and avoid asking the question simply to allow yourself to brag. Remember the interviewer’s answer will tell you a lot about the prospective position, and you want to focus on listening to their response versus plotting the next words out of your mouth.
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Sometimes what an employer considers a challenge is exactly the excitement you might be looking for, but if there truly are no challenges, you might want to consider if the job will be fulfilling enough for you.
If the challenges seem unreasonable or outside of your control, you may want to consider if you’ll be entering a losing battle, or take the opportunity to ask them what assistance you would have in tackling the challenge. Their response can tell you a lot about the teamwork dynamics of the company and how much autonomy you’ll be expected to perform under.
A follow-up or alternative question here could be, “What is the number one skill someone would need to be successful in this position?”
2. “Why Is This Position Available?”
If the company doesn’t come right out and say why the position is available, you should do your best to find out.
If it’s a new position, find out what they hope the new position will add to the company or what problems it may solve.
If the company is hiring for a lot of new positions, ask about their growth plan and what products, services or programs the growth is based on. I have turned down two positions before where the roles didn’t seem sustainable. In both cases, I was correct and neither of the positions were still around within a year. If I hadn’t done some digging into their intentions, I could have found myself back on the job search sooner than I wanted.
If the employer is vague with their response regarding a previous employee, make sure to respect their discretion but don’t be afraid to ask about the average turnaround of the position. If they’ve gone through six employees in the last year for the same position, is it because the employees were promoted within the company or because they were all “not a good fit”? If they weren’t a good fit, what does the employer think was missing and what would you need to survive?
Believe me — this is one question I learned the importance of the hard way. After I began what seemed like a great position, I quickly learned that company turnaround was so bad they could barely remember the names of all the employees that had come and gone in the last year — yikes!
3. “What Would Other Employees Say Is the Best Part About Working Here?”
I like this better than the alternative, “What is your favorite part about working here?” because it allows you to see what they perceive other people to value and gives you a chance to see if that’s truly valuable to you. If you simply ask them what they like, you don’t really have a good picture of whether that’s a general consensus, and you also have less of an ability to verify it as truthful.
Be aware of body language here and whether the question seems to take the interviewer off guard or make them uncomfortable. Companies should have a whole bunch of reasons why employees love to work for them! Does their response seem genuine or generic?
Next step, reach out to some of the current employees and ask them the same question. Do you get a similar answer, or do you get the feeling things aren’t quite what they seem?
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Keep in mind that employees may not be willing to be too candid with you, but you should be able to pick up on subtleties in their demeanor. Do they look away, do they light up with a smile, do they start with a long “Uuuuuuummmmmm” or do they simply give you a polite answer and move along.?
Note that it’s best to ask the employees privately, not in a group — and certainly not in front of anyone in a leadership role if you truly want a genuine response.