While job interviews can be a daunting experience whatever your level of experience, they offer the ideal opportunity to learn a bit more about the business and whether the role is, in fact, right for you.
As is the case with most aspects of working life, strong preparation will leave you with the best possible chance of success. Whether you’re applying to a startup, scaleup, or a globally recognized brand, heading in with a few of your own pre-planned questions to ask during the job interview can be the difference in leaving with that all-important gut feeling that you’ve found a good fit.
Alternatively, they can also be an extremely effective way of unearthing potential red flags that make you realize the position, or company, isn’t what you had initially thought.
What would it take for my position to be deemed a success at three months, six months and twelve months?
There’s a benefit to be had for both parties when it comes to asking a question like this.
The potential employer can see that you’re already thinking about how you can contribute to the company’s immediate success and that you’re going in with the intention of sticking around for the foreseeable future. The best companies see the hiring process as a long-term investment in talent and if they can see you’re heading in with that same mindset, they’re bound to be encouraged.
On the other hand, you get to find out a bit more about the sort of benchmarks that will be expected of you, and whether or not they align with the expectations you had heading into the interview.
Could you give a summary of the typical day-to-day responsibilities of the role?
While this is likely one of the most common job interview questions that get asked, it doesn’t make it any less important.
Ultimately, you want to leave that interview not just knowing that you can picture yourself working for this business, but that you can actually enjoy yourself while doing so. Job satisfaction plays such a huge part in both our physical and mental health. The average European works 36.2 hours per week, an incredibly long time if you quickly realize the role wasn’t what you had hoped for.
Do you have anything in place to ensure progression is offered within the business? Is there anyone in the business now who started off in this role?
A desire to progress is always a positive trait, and you’re well within your rights to make it clear that you expect the opportunity to do so. Tie the question back into those success markers and do your best to get a timeframe for progression from day one. If a business excels in offering development paths, it’ll be more than happy to shout about it and will be wholly encouraged that you want to build your career there.
Finding out if there are still people within the company that started out in a similar role you’re interviewing for can be a good way of judging whether they are genuine about offering routes for growth.
Ask if a natural route for progression exists in the operation’s current model, if so what could your title be should you hit all of your targets in the first six months? Again, this shows desire not just from a personal perspective, but to deliver on the business’ KPIs too.
What resources will I have access to?
Whether it’s the number of people in your team, the kind of budgets you’ll have at your disposal or the software and equipment available, getting at least some idea of the resources on offer as early as possible is a good indicator that yours and the company’s visions are aligned.
There will be occasions where the business themselves don’t even know what is needed, perhaps this is the first time they’ve hired for this kind of role, so be honest about what you think will be required to make it a success. This is a chance to begin molding the position into exactly what you want it to be.
What are the biggest challenges currently facing the business?
It’s a fairly straightforward question, but one that can go an incredibly long way in creating a lasting impression for yourself. Find out if the business is facing any particular problems or pain points, then place yourself and the role you’re interviewing for as a key part of the solution.
It’s a simple premise, but when a business encounters an issue, solving it generally becomes priority number one. Successful businesses figure out ways to overcome hurdles, be it internally or externally. If you can make yourself part of that process, then you immediately give them a reason to hire you.
What was it about my application that made me stand out?
This is your chance to really double down on what it was that attracted the business to you in the first place. There’s a reason you’ve made it to the interview stage, so why not reinforce that USP while you’re face-to-face (or screen-to-screen)?
Expand on it, delve into that experience and speak about how you can transfer that to the role you’re interviewing for. By doing this, you’re automatically prompting the interviewer into picturing how you’d fit into the team, with the very thing they already liked about you.
Something playing on your mind? Ask about it!
This might be the most important thing to remember. If there’s something you’re unsure about, just ask. Your gut feeling is almost always right, so trust it. If something isn’t sitting well, if you need a bit more information or if you’re simply just curious, it’s better to ask about it now than be met with a nasty surprise two weeks after taking the job.
Besides, job interviewers love it when you ask them questions. It goes to show you’ve engaged with the position or business enough to warrant asking for more information, or that you’ve taken the time beforehand to put in the research.
If nothing else, that preparation will offer you a little extra peace of mind. Job interviews are nerve-wracking experiences for most people so don’t feel obliged to have flawless answers to every single question, because the person interviewing you won’t expect that either. With that being said, heading in with at least some idea of a few meaningful points you can raise yourself could do your confidence the world of good.