Questions to ask at an interview

With many graduates jumping out into the job search adventure, but also with young professionals who are having a change of heart in terms of company, industry, position, in mind or just looking for the next challenge, I wanted to take a blog post to talk about job interviews and especially questions to ask at an interview.

Chances are that if you are a recent graduate going into your first job you will not ask too many questions, and will just take whatever the interview is telling you as given. But once you have been at it for a few years and you have experienced different workplaces, you start realising all the marketing that goes into the hiring process. Companies are sometimes desperate to hire – especially if you are living in a dynamic city, booming with startups – and they will put a lot of effort into marketing themselves as great places to work at but once you start you realise they are not what they seem. So with this in mind, you should take some moments and think through what do you care about in a job/company/culture and make sure you translate that into questions for the interviewer. An important mindset change here is that the interview as a two way street – it is the process for the company to see if you are a suitable candidate, but it is also a great way for you to identify the company and the position as a good match for you and your career.

Not to mention that asking questions, either related to the job, the team or the industry, shows that you are interested. Generally, open ended questions are better are they can spark the conversation and really help you discover more about your future employer. A few suggestions for questions I would use to questions to ask at an interview, are:

Company & Culture –  with these questions you should try to understand the (growth) mindset of the company. Whether it is it an established company, or rather a start-up that is preparing to get acquired, this can give you hints on the strategy and also on how they will treat employees.

  • What are the challenges and opportunities at the moment?
  • What makes you proud to work here?
  • What’s one thing you would change about the company if yo​u could change anything?
  • What are the most common reasons people leave your organization?
  • Is there a lot of collaboration within teams and across different ones?
  • How does management encourage people to speak up when they disagree with a decision?
  • How do you motivate people? Do you use any rewards for that?
  • How often do projects get canceled or fail?
  • Is risk-taking encouraged, and what happens when people fail?
  • How would you describe “organizational politics” at the company?

Growth Opportunities – a big part that you should try to understand is  your career path at this company. Whether you are interested in fast promotions or a long term career there, make sure to address that right from the start by understanding the growth opportunities.

  • Who will I be reporting to, how many people in line? 
  • How and when do promotions happen? Does the company promote from within?
  • What is the typical career path for this role?
  • How does the organization support your professional development and career growth?
  • How do managers and employees share feedback? How are performance reviews conducted?
  • Is there a lot of room for working independently?

Also, make sure to check out employee reviews and interview questions on Glassdoor before your interviews. Below there are also some more links for you to check out. Some other articles on this topic you have this HBR article, this The Muse article and this one as well.

Do you guys ask questions during the interviews? Any good ones that have served you well? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below!

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