4 Questions to Ask in an Interview

Getting an interview can feel like a gift from above. When I was job searching last summer, I would send out resume after resume into the void of the online job boards, and usually hear nothing back. Getting asked for an interview seemed like the best possible outcome, and in a lot of ways it was. What I quickly learned, however, is that getting an interview didn’t necessarily mean I fit with the company. Sometimes, the interview simply reinforced that I wouldn’t be a good fit in that position, or with that company. What I learned, after doing a couple of interviews, was how to ask questions of the interviewers themselves to determine whether or not I would be a good fit.

A recent Forbes article (here is the link) reported the findings of a recent study showing that half of the workers in the United States stated they were “unhappy” or “miserable” in their current job. Frequently, that angst comes from a misalignment; the company isn’t a good fit for you. This just reinforces the lesson I learned last summer: you need to interview the interviewers before you decide to take a job with them.

To that end, I’ve come up with 5 questions I believe you should always ask an interviewer when you interview with their company. Of course, these are not fool-proof questions; sometimes a company won’t be the right fit despite appearances. But they will help you determine whether a company appears to be a good fit for you.

  1. “What does a typical day look like at company X?” This is a good question to start off with for a couple of reasons. First off, it demonstrates that you are interested in knowing what your job would look like in context. You’ve seen the list of qualifications and job expectations—now you want to know what that looks like in practice. But from your end of things, this question will bring out any big problems in daily work. If, for example, you are expected to be there an hour before you start, but you won’t include that in your hour count, that would be a red flag.
  2. “How will I be trained for this position?” Especially if you are starting a position and you’re uncertain how to perform all aspects of it, you will want to get clarification on training. Some companies offer hands-on training, while others expect you to jump in without any preamble. Either way, you’ll want to know what you’re going to be getting before you jump in.
  3. “Where do you see your company going in the next 5 years?” The main purpose of this question is to probe for company stability. If the interviewer seems very uncertain, or doesn’t give a clear answer, that might be a sign that the company isn’t super stable. Additionally, you’ll want to be a part of a company that is growing in the same direction you want to grow. Not every company will align perfectly with your career aspirations. However, it’s helpful if there is some correlation between the two.
  4. “What is the working environment like? Is it more collaborative, or more independent?” Work environment plays a big role in determining employee happiness. If your work environment is toxic, then chances are you will have a bad time. Ask about the work environment beforehand to get a better of sense of whether or not you’d be happy working there.

Beyond getting a better idea of whether a company will be a good fit, asking your interviewer questions shows initiative. Rather than smiling and slinking away with no questions at all, you’ve demonstrated your commitment to research and interest in the company. This will help land you a job offer, even if you ultimately decide the company might not be the best fit.

If you are looking to make a career transitions and would like professional support for your career, email us at info@careersolutionsgroup.net. We offer free initial consultations, and have helped hundreds of career changers make successful transitions.

By: Julia Pillard, Career Solutions Group