You’ve come to the interview prepared to answer the hiring manager’s questions, of course. But career experts agree that solid interview preparation involved preparing your own set of must-ask questions. As executive coach Karen Elizaga explains, “It’s important to look at an interview as a two-way street. Of course, you want the job—but you want to make sure that wherever you land, it is a place that you want to be. Like a date, you and the employer are checking each other out for shared interests, a solid fit, and long-term compatibility.”
But where to start? With these six questions you must ask before leaving any interview.
1. Why is this position available?
You were so glad to see this slot available that you probably didn’t put much thought into why it had opened up. But, “the answer to this question can be telling,” says career coach Hallie Crawford. You’ll want to determine whether the former employee got a promotion, which is a plus in the company’s favor—or if he or she quit or, more telling, was fired.
2. What are your expectations for the first month? First 90 days?
Want to hit the ground running? This question gives you a destination for which to aim, as Crawford explains. “Asking, what are your expectations for the first month or even the first three months, will help you to determine what the company will expect from you and help you determine if you are on the same page,” she says, “and how you will be measured.”
3. Where is the company headed?
You’ve done your research, so you know where the company’s been. But, “what will not always be apparent is where the company is going,” says Elizaga. So, be sure to ask things such as, “What innovations are they working on? How do they think their mission will change given current politics, changes in technology, or movements in fashion, for example?” Elizaga says. “Questions like this will show that you have done your homework and understand their work enough to know what their relative position is in the market.”
4. What’s the company’s process for giving employees feedback?
Elizaga points out that, “employers love employees who want to excel, so asking questions about how they view evolution and improvement will make a positive impression.” Why is that? Because “it will convey your openness and commitment to personal and professional growth,” she explains. So, when you ask this question, be sure to explain why you’re asking it. For example, “I have found that feedback helps me to do the best job possible. What’s the company’s process for giving employees feedback?” Elizaga says.
5. What type of person best succeeds in this role?
You’ll already know what the company’s goals are for this role—as well as how you’ll find out how you’re doing—based on your previous questions. So now it’s time to ask about the personalities that will succeed in this position and in the company, Crawford says. Not only will this question help unveil whether you’ll fit in, but “it will help you decide if you would feel comfortable with the expected goals and evaluation system they use,” Crawford says.
6. What’s your experience been with the company?
Think: Has the hiring manager enjoyed his or her time there? Has it panned out as or better than he or she expected? These good question to leave for last, Elizaga says, because “they also give you a chance to rest and really suss out whether the company’s culture jives with your own. More importantly, because you solicit an individual’s opinions and insights, they will, themselves, feel seen and leave the interview feeling a personal connection to you.”