There are two important reasons to turn the tables on your interviewer before you leave the room. First, asking pointed questions can help you determine if this is or isn’t the right job for you. Of course you’ll need to impress your interviewer if you hope to receive an offer, but you have every right to protect yourself and the trajectory of your career by avoiding a bad match. Ignoring red flags and stepping into the wrong job can be a costly mistake, so while you work hard to impress this employer, you’ll also need to stay on top of any signs that suggest this position will lead you off course.
Second, smart, insightful questions will show your potential employer that you know how to take charge of your destiny and think a few moves ahead.
So with these goals in mind, here are a few questions that can help you gain valuable information while also showcasing your engagement, foresight, and curiosity.
1. What would you list as the top two skill sets required for this job?
Attitude and aptitude are both important qualifications for any position, so in terms of aptitude, what skills will you need to thrive here? You want a job that will have a positive impact on the future of your career, so pay close attention here.
2. What are the top two personality traits that will bring success in this job?
What kinds of inborn traits or attitude are these employers looking for as they review candidates? And what kind of personality traits will help you fit in, gain influence, and rise to the next level within this company? Some positions are better suited to leaders and some to followers. Some positions need enthusiastic risk takers and some require more meticulous, analytical types. Listen to the answer and use your intuition to read between the lines.
3. What projects would I begin working on if I were to step into this position tomorrow?
Asking this question shows that you’re ready and willing to hit the ground running. You’re curious and excited about the work you’ll be doing, and you’re ready to take on the challenge. Your interviewer will be thrilled see this trait in a candidate.
4. How would you describe the culture here?
Keep this question open ended and allow the interviewer to respond by saying whatever comes to mind. The first few words will be the most telling. If you stay tuned into cues, you’ll learn more about the kinds of values this company attempts to cultivate in its workforce. How do these values measure up against your own?
You can learn a lot from the interviewer’s answer to this question, but asking this question also demonstrates that culture is an important aspect of work for you. It shows that you value your working environment. This should quell any concerns that you don’t know how to act in a professional office environment and will prove that you’ll fit right in.
5. What brought you to this company, and why have you decided to stay?
Give your interviewer a chance to tell as much of his personal story as he chooses. Most people enjoy a sharing their own opinions and reflecting on the reasoning behind their decisions and the outcome of those decisions. Listen for similarities between the interviewer’s long term career goals and your own. If those goals align in any way, you’ll gain some insight into whether or not this job can get you where you need to go.
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