So, you’re going into an interview, you’re a little nervous but well prepared for what questions you think the interviewer is going to ask you. You’ve refreshed your technical knowledge in key areas and have some prepared answers for most common interview questions.
But, they’re not the only things you should be preparing for.
You’ll look very intelligent and interested if you have some well-prepared questions to ask the employer. Remember that inherently, people are interested in themselves and employers are interested in talking about the company they work for. So, not only do you look impressive in front of the employer, but you also look incredibly interested in them and their company simply by asking a few well-chosen questions.
So, what sort of questions am I talking about here?
I’m talking about the sort of questions that are not necessarily to do with the role. So, not “What will I be doing on a day to day basis?” or “How much will I be paid?” because those questions revolve around you.
The sorts of question you want to ask are those that revolve around the company and that allow them to speak freely about where the company is going and what the company is doing. In this way, you’ll get a good feel for the type of company it is, their culture and future direction and therefore, whether you’ll be a good fit for them. But also, you’ll get a good feel for the sorts of management structures, organizations, and strategic planning that goes on in the company. As a side benefit, you’ll look like a forward-thinking intelligent candidate that’s very interested in the potential company that they may work for.
So, here’s a list of some specific questions that are good to ask the employer:
- What is it like to work for Acme company? – A particularly good question to ask if it’s a middle management level person that is interviewing you.
- Does the company have a strategic plan? Can you give me some idea of the direction this company is headed, are there plans for growth and how they will be implemented? (You might need to concede that this could be confidential and that a broad over view is fine if they can share it).
- I notice from your website that you talk a lot about culture and values, do you have any written core values? And, can you give me some examples of how those values typically play out in the company? If you had to summarise the culture of the company in a few words, what would you choose? (Ok that’s more than one question, but cultural questions are good to help see whether you’ll fit in)
- I notice from your website that Acme company does several community and charity events, I really like this. Can you tell me more about how this works and whether the company has any longer-term goals around social causes?
- Simon Sinek (Author of Start with Why?) is a big proponent of companies promoting and living the ‘why’ of their business. What would you say is the reason ‘why’ Acme company does what it does?
- Generally, how receptive is the company to new ideas and new ways of doing things? And in your opinion, has there been some good examples of employee-driven ideas that have been successfully implemented in the company?
Now, obviously you don’t have to ask all those questions and some of them you may find are even a bit too forward for a candidate to ask during an interview with the employer. You’ll have to gauge that yourself at the time but asking some general questions about company direction and what the company is trying to achieve in the bigger picture can be important and helpful. Remember too that you have to be genuine about these questions, if you don’t care about a company’s charity events and do that stuff in your own time, then don’t ask about it.
A good employer will appreciate a candidate who has done their research and asks the right questions. I fully believe that having the answers is rarely more important than asking the right questions.
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