The short answer to the question posed above is yes. A job interview is not, and should not, be one-sided. While it represents a great opportunity for an employer to learn more about you, likewise it’s also your opportunity to learn more about the job, the team and the company — so you can make an informed decision about whether or not you want to work there.
As a candidate, this means you should be able to answer questions as well as ask them. Not only does this give you an invaluable opportunity to demonstrate your interest in both the role and the company, it enables you find out additional information to determine whether the company is the right fit for you and your career goals.
Now we've established that you should ask questions, the next thing to focus on is what kind of questions it is that you should be asking. While there is no one-size fits all approach to this, it's good practice to prepare 3-5 questions ahead of time. We've included some examples below to get you started.
Questions about the role
First and foremost, you need to ensure you have a good understanding on exactly what the day-to-day responsibilities of the job will be.
- Can you describe a typical day for the person in this role?
- What are the skills and experiences you’re looking for in an ideal candidate?
- What attributes does someone need to have in order to be really successful in this position?
- What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?
Questions about the team
Your job satisfaction is highly dependent on the people you work with day in and day out. So it's important to ask a few questions to identify whether it’s the right team for you.
- Can you tell me about the team I would be be working with?
- Who would I be reporting to?
- Which other teams work closely with this one?
- What are the common career paths for people in this team?
- Do you plan to hire more people for this team in the near future?
Questions about the company
It's absolutely crucial to do your research before the interview. This typically involves going through their website, blog, social media pages and searching their recent news. Information gleaned from this research will not only help with the interview itself, it will allow you to ask informed questions that demonstrate you have a genuine interest in the company
- Where do you see this company in the next few years?
- What are the most important company values?
- How does this team/role contribute to the company goals?
- What excites you most about the company’s future?
- What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?
Questions about the interviewer
Asking questions about the interviewer shows that you’re interested in them as a person which is great way to connect with them and build rapport.
- Why did you come to this company?
- What’s your favourite part about working here?
- How has your role changed since you’ve been here?
Questions about professional development
Each job you take throughout your career should be viewed as an opportunity for you to develop skills that will enable you to reach your broader career goals, so you should have an idea of what resources they have available for you. As well as that, employers prefer candidates who are keen to grow within their company.
- What does the onboarding/training entail for this role?
- What are the advancement opportunities for this role?
- Have employees previously in this role advanced in the company? What kinds of roles do they have now?
- What professional development opportunities are available to employees?
Questions to ask about performance
Understanding how your potential new manager will measure your success is key in both understanding the company priorities, as well as their managerial style. These questions also give you a clear idea of what the expectations for the role are which should help you evaluate whether or not the role is right for you.
- What are the most important things you’d like to see someone accomplish in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job?
- If I'm successful in this process, how can I ensure that I hit the ground running?
- How do you measure success in this role?
- What is the performance review process like?
- What metrics or goals is performance evaluated against?
Questions about company culture
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a famous quote from legendary management consultant and writer Peter Drucker. To be clear he didn't mean that strategy was unimportant – rather that a powerful and empowering culture was a surer route to organisational success.
This belief has become so widely adopted that many tech companies nowadays place a massive emphasis on candidate's "cultural fit" in the interview process. With that in mind, it's crucial to find out what the company is like to work for outside of the role and team you'll potentially be moving into.
- What’s the company and team culture like?
- How would you describe the work environment for the team/company?
- What kind of team/company events do you have?
- What’s different about working here than anywhere else you’ve worked?
- Has the company changed since you’ve joined? How?
Questions about next steps
Before the interview finishes, it's important to ensure that the interviewer has all of the information they need from you and that you’re clear on the next steps by asking these questions.
- Have I answered all your questions, or is there something you’d like me to clarify?
- Is there anything that concerns you about my fit for this role?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
Ian from Gradguide