Job interviews can feel like a one-way grilling, as your interviewer tries to decide if you’re the right person for the job.
You need to even things up a little by making sure you have questions to ask the interviewer that will help you decide if you want the job.
After all, job interviews should be a two way process.
You’ve already prepared a great resume / CV which has helped get you this far.
Now you have to sit through an interview and answer question after question from your potential new employer, trying to demonstrate why you are the best person for the job.
Our free interview guide can help you with that.
But here’s the thing:
It is equally important to use an interview as an opportunity to see if the job, the manager, and the company are right for you.
Remember, if you get an offer for this job and take it, you will be spending around a third of your life working it, so it’s a good idea to make sure that it’s a good fit.
To be clear, the following questions are all questions designed to help you evaluate if the job is right for you.
It is important to understand this distinction and the purpose of these questions.
It is also important to note that the following questions will need to be tailored to your specific situation, e.g. the company culture, the interviewer’s personality, how well the interview has gone.
Use these questions as a guide, but tweak them accordingly.
So here goes – 6 questions to ask in an interview to understand if the job is right for you…
1. How will performance be measured in my role?
There is nothing worse than slogging your guts out, delivering what you think are exceptional outputs and results, only to find out that all your efforts are not recognised by the company or your manager due to some performance measurement peculiarity.
This question will help you understand exactly what methods your manager and the company will use to assess your performance in the role.
And of course, your performance in the role is linked to factors such as salaries, bonuses & promotions.
If the performance review process is objective, with clear and specific targets, this is good news.
In this instance, you will have specified objectives that are clear and measurable, without any ambiguity over whether or not they have been met.
If performance is assessed based on an individual’s personal opinion of you and your work, then this is bad news.
In this type of scenario, there is always a risk that someone’s personal view of you can influence their thinking when they’re assessing your professional performance.
2. How is succession planning managed, and what are promotion prospects like?
You have ambitions, right?
You don’t want to be stuck in the same job forever, and you need to know that that won’t happen. Asking this question will get your potential new employer to tell you how the company – and them as a manager – consider promotions.
Some companies give this subject very little thought, or base their promotion decisions on length of service.
This is bad news.
Other companies pro-actively help you plan a career path, and promote based on abilities irrespective of tenure and age.
This is good news.
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3. What are the worst / least enjoyable aspects of the role? And the same question for working for this company?
Remember when your interviewer asked you what your greatest weakness was?
Well this is your own version of this question played back to your interviewer.
Be aware though that the answers given are likely to be the personal views of the interviewer.
They may highlight things that you actually feel are plus points (for example, they may not like travelling with work, but you may love that).
4. And what are the most enjoyable / satisfying aspects of the role?
This is the opposite of the previous question.
Again, chances are that you will be getting a personal view from your interviewer, but you still want to hear one or two things that resonate with you.
5. How would you describe the work culture in this team / department / company?
Whether the answer to this question is good news or bad news depends on what you want from a company culture.
Some people like flexibility, autonomy, the ability to work remotely, and so on. Other people prefer a close team environment, lots of interaction with their manager, and team social events for example.
Understand what kind of work culture you like and want from your job, then listen carefully to your interviewer’s answer to see if this particular job is a good match for you.
Note: If you are applying for a role in a huge company, it’s best to ask about the culture in the specific team or department that you are applying for.
In a massive company, there may be different cultures in different functions / countries that may not be realistic to what you experience in reality.
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6. How would you describe your management style, and what is your relationship like with your staff?
Obviously this question only works if your prospective manager is interviewing you – it cannot be directed to a HR representative.
But what a question.
By this stage of the interview you should already have formed some sort of view about their personality, and with this question you will get a direct insight into what your daily work life could be like working for this person.
This is one of the most interesting questions to ask in an interview because you are now putting your interviewer on the spot. Until now, all the other questions have been about the job or the company.
This question is specifically about your potential new manager, and now it’s their turn to impress you!
So to wrap up, you should be looking to understand:
- How performance will be measured;
- How is succession planning managed, and the promotion prospects;
- The least enjoyable aspects about the role and the company;
- The best bits about the role and the company;
- The working culture;
- Your new boss’s management style.
With this information you can make a much more informed decision about whether or not the job is right for you.
Assuming it is, and assuming you get offered the role, your next task is to negotiate your job offer to get the best deal.
And remember, these are great questions to ask in an interview to understand if the job is right for you.
If you want help with answering questions that you may get asked by the interviewer, then take a look at our interview guide: ‘25 interview questions and how to answer them brilliantly‘.