You’ve heard it a zillion times: “Remember, you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you. Ask your own (good) questions to get a feel for if you truly want to work there.”
But are you digesting this–and doing it–every time you meet with a hiring manager? If you’re not, you’re missing out on an important opportunity to dig in and really get a feel for what’s going on at your potential next employer. You’re also squandering an opportunity to demonstrate fully your preparedness, confidence, and complete non-desperation (which is always an attractive trait to hiring managers).
So, what are some great questions you can ask in your next interview? Here are five brilliant ones that, truthfully, may not be fully answered but will still likely provide you with some solid, fruitful information about your potential next boss, team, and organization.
1. Is This a Vacancy, or a New Position (and, if It’s a Vacancy, What’s Up)?
I worked with a client a few months ago who was a finalist for a VP of Sales & Marketing job at a profitable, admired company. He was, he believed, very close to having an offer in hand. And then he learned that, in the space of three years, this company had three other leaders in this same role. As in, they were looking to hire their fourth VP of Sales & Marketing since 2013.
This presented quite a conundrum for my client. He’d been so excited about the opportunity, and flattered to be this far along in the interview process. But discovering the revolving door of leadership going on stopped him in his tracks. And it should have. That kind of turnover is a sure sign that something’s up, probably starting at the top of the organization.
This client didn’t ask during the early interview stages why the position was open. But he should have. It’s a completely fair question and, even if it’s not answered in depth, you can almost always tell by the “squirm factor” of the interviewer if there’s more to the story or not.
He did get the offer, by the way. And ultimately declined. Today, he heads up sales for a smaller firm with amazing, supportive, and inclusive leaders. And the organization’s turnover? It’s almost non-existent.
5. After This Conversation, Do You Have Any Hesitations About My Qualifications?
This is such a scary question for most people, because they’re fearful that the answer might be yes. But it’s an important question to ask because, if there are any hesitations on the part of the interviewer, you pretty much have no better shot at clarifying or allaying their concerns than while you’re still sitting in the interview.
If you’re terrified about asking this question, consider this: If something about you is giving the interviewer pause, and you don’t ask about it, he or she is going to make hiring decisions with this or these concerns factored in. Given this, you almost always have much more to gain than lose by asking.
As you progress through a job search or career transition, you’ve got to continually remind yourself to steer. Steer the boat. Steer the direction. Steer the interview. No one cares more about your finding a great new job (or wonderful organization to represent) than you.
Curate your career. Ask the interview questions that need to be asked. Be your own best advocate.
And then enjoy the spoils as you settle into that great new job.