For many job-seeking professionals, interviews can be terrifying. Glassdoor reports that every job offer in the corporate world attracts 25 applicants. Out of those 25 professionals, only four to six get called for an interview, and out of that, only one gets the job.
Competition is tough. Cracking an interview is no funny business. This is why every professional should not just strive to be technically sound but also ask the interviewer a couple of questions to determine if you, as their employee, would be happy working for them.
For a better understanding, we have divided the questions you should ask an interviewer into five categories. Let's begin:
Your duties, their expectations
Ideally, your job description encompasses all of your possible responsibilities at the workplace. Unfortunately, you can never be too sure. It could be that those descriptions are incomplete, and you may end up performing duties that are incorrectly assigned or too challenging. Therefore, it is essential to ask fundamental questions before deciding whether or not to take up the job.
1. What are the biggest challenges of this job?
Get a realistic view of the job from your employer as it will enable you to demonstrate how you can rise to those challenges.
2. How would you describe a typical day in this position?
This gives you an idea of the day-to-day demands the job will have on you and the kind of contribution you can make daily. When you are mentally prepared for the job, you will perform more efficiently.
3. What is the typical work week?
In an age where everyone strives for a work-life balance, you don't want to be caught off-guard with long working hours. Your employer should be open to sharing what the average work hours are and whether overtime is expected.
4. What is the most important thing I should accomplish in the first ninety days?
You are joining the company to work, not to pass the time. This question immediately gives your employer a positive impression of your keenness. It also gives you a path to follow to accomplish as much as possible in the first quarter. At the same time, it gives you an estimate of their expectations.
5. How much travel is expected?
If your job role demands travel, then this question is critical. If there are constraints that limit how much you can travel, the interview is an excellent time to discuss them.
6. Is relocation a possibility?
If the job involves you being posted in a different city, knowing the answer to this can help you plan the resources you will need to spend on relocating yourself, your family and your belongings in case the company doesn't provide any benefits to you.
Company culture and structure
Every company defines culture in its way. But if it were to be defined, it is about how the company makes its employees feel about coming to work. Therefore, ask questions to get clarity on the organizational structure and what it is like to work there every day.
7. How many people work in this office/department?
The answer to this will give you an idea of how much individual attention your contributions will get. If it is a large team, you may wish to ask about the opportunities for the personal attention that you can expect and also inquire about the scope of growth.
8. Who does this position report to?
As a follow-up to this, you can ask whether you would be allowed to meet the person before making your final acceptance decision. This will enable you to see what your future reporting heads will be like and whether you would be keen to work with them.
9. What is the company's management style?
Depending on your own beliefs and way of working, you may prefer a more autocratic structure or one with more leniency. Ideally, the company's style should match your temperament.
10. Do you have a policy for helping new members of the team get on board?
Many companies conduct onboarding programs for their joinees. It is an essential HR policy - one that highlights how much they care about new employees. Therefore, find out how much your employer invests in helping recruits adjust to the workplace and equipping them with everything they need to excel.
11. What are the biggest rewards of working for this company?
The positive things that your employer shares about working for the company will give you a more balanced view of what it will be like to work there.
Your scope of professional growth
Showing your interviewer that you are invested in becoming one of their top employees is the ideal way to stand out from the competition. Ask questions that relate to your individual growth in the company and the opportunities to learn and excel.
12. Why is this job available?
You should be clear about whether the job is a new opening and, if someone previously occupied the role, what your predecessor brought to the role. If you have big shoes to fill, you must know about it to mentally prepare yourself for the job.
13. What are the prospects for growth and advancement?
Ideally, the company should have sufficient opportunities for new employees to grow. If it looks like advancement opportunities are only available for senior officials, it may be a potential red flag. You don't want to join a company that doesn't take your professional growth seriously.
14. How does one advance in the company?
This gives you a good idea about whether or not the company expects the recruits to walk the 'extra mile'. Asking this question will also show your interviewer that you are keen on advancing from the get-go.
15. Are there any examples of a career path beginning with this position?
If there are employees before you who have risen to eminence through the same career path, it will make you feel more confident about taking it up.
16. Do you provide professional development opportunities?
Irrespective of its size and domain, your company should ideally have a system in place for employees to learn new skills and take up leadership opportunities.
Company's mission and values
Every company has a mission and values of its own. Ideally, they should be in line with your vision for your career growth. The best way to find this out is to assert yourself and approach your employer with questions like:
17. How would you describe this company's values?
It may be relevant to you to work for a company whose business and social values match with your own, which is why this question matters. The company could be heavily involved in philanthropic activities, which may interest your benevolent heart even more.
18. How has the company changed over the last few years?
This is a great way to see whether the company's actions and plans are in line with their values. Changes for the better indicate that they are keen on growth, while relatively few changes may indicate a tendency to maintain the status quo.
19. What are the company's plans for growth and development?
The company should have clear plans for future growth and be willing to talk about the same to new people coming on board. This is usually ambiguous in the case of startups and small businesses that don't put together a blueprint or growth plan in place.
20. Is there anything I should have asked you about?
No matter how well prepared you are with questions, your interviewer may have expected something different. So, before they finish the discussion with you, ask them if there is anything else you should know. Gauge their point of view and demonstrate your willingness to learn.
21. Do you have any reservations about my qualifications?
If your qualifications do not match the job requirements exactly, this may be an excellent question to ask. It also gives you a chance to highlight how the total of your experiences, including your qualifications, makes you ideal for the role.
22. Is there anything I can clarify for you about my qualifications?
Again, if your qualifications are not quite what the interviewer expected, this gives you a chance to talk about what the degree or diploma in question taught you.
23. If I am extended a job offer, how soon would you like me to start?
This question allows you to plan out your schedule before you join work. It gives you the option to negotiate the joining date beforehand in case the date they mention does not work for you, primarily when you are serving a notice period in your previous employment or have plans to take off for a few days or weeks before starting a new job.
24. When can I expect to hear from you?
This gives you an exact idea of how long you will need to wait for a response - after which, in case you do not hear from the company, you can send an appropriate follow-up.
Over to you
Many of these questions may or may not be covered during the interview. However, as mentioned before, it is better to have clarity than assume. Remember: an interview is a two-way street. You should assess your employer as much as they evaluate you. It is vital for your happiness and the company's growth. Good luck!