I am going to let you in on a little golden secret. The sort of little golden secret that will guarantee* you walk away from any job interview with a face curiously resembling the sly Emoji face (you know the one) - the sort of little golden secret that will turn a job interview from a nerve-wracking and awkward experience into one where you will feel like you are chairing the damn thing. Are you ready?
Ok. You know the bit at the end of the job interview where the interviewers ask if you have any questions and your heart races a little and that awkward bit of silence happens before you’re like “ah nope, no questions”? BUZZ. Wrong answer. See, you should always ask questions in a job interview.
Job interviews are two-way streets, which really means that you are interviewing the organisation or business at the same time. Knowing as much about the job as possible will help you figure out if it is actually something you really want.
Of course, you can’t just ask any them any old questions, so to make it easier, here’s a list of the top 10 questions to ask in a job interview.
1: What is the team culture like?
The team are the people that you’ll work with day in and day out so it’s important that the sort of dynamic the team has complements your own personal dynamic. Some teams might be a bit more quiet and reserved while others might be loud and all up in your face. Have a think about what sort of environment and dynamic you thrive in best.
2: What does a typical day in the job look like?
Also known as the “what will I actually be doing?” question. I’ve seen a lot of people go through an interview process assuming they know what the job will be like, only to discover when they started that it’s actually not like what they thought at all. Knowing exactly what the day-to-day activities and responsibilities are will help you figure out what the job actually is and whether or not it’s like what you thought (or hoped) it would be. It’ll also give you a bit more information about what you’ll spend more time and effort doing in comparison to something else.
3: What sort of person would do great in this job?
This is a smart question because it’ll give you better insight into what sort of person the business is looking for. This can help you decide if you are the right person for them. They might want someone who’s very analytical or someone who’s very creative. This question will also help you understand the focus of the role. If it doesn’t sound like you, have a good think about if it’s something you’re willing to take on as a challenge or if there are other jobs out there that might be a more natural fit.
4: How did this job come to be advertised?
Did the person most recently in the role quit? And if so, what was the reason for them leaving? Were they promoted? Is it a brand new role? Knowing the answer to this will provide a deeper insight into how the business or organisation operates and the sort of pathways that this role might lead to. If the previous person was promoted, it’s a good sign that the business or organisation develops its own employees. If it’s a brand new role, it might be a sign that the business or organisation is growing in size or going in a new direction, all of which can change what your job might look like in the future.
5: What do you like about working here?
What motivates and inspires the very people who are trying to sell this job to you? What makes the people sitting across from you want to come to work each day? It’s always good to know what people who already work there think the pros and the perks are, because it may just end up being what will make you happy going to work each day as well.
6: How does the organisation view this team?
The internal reputation of a team or a business area is always an interesting tidbit of information to know about. Whatever the function, this will help you understand the challenges you might face with various stakeholders across the business or organisation. Will getting new ideas through be easy or more difficult? Will there be more pressure to try and please or will it be a relatively easy and breezy experience? Some answers may also give you some tips on whether it sounds like a happy place to work or not.
7: What would be the more challenging of the job?
There will always be parts of a job that you won’t enjoy, that’s a given. While it’s important that the bad bits don’t influence the good parts, it’s always good to know what your potential employers define as challenges so can get an idea of what you might not really like about the job. You might be surprised to find out that the bad bits aren’t even that bad.
8: What is important to this organisation?
I’ve seen this question stump a lot of interviewers. It’s a great question because it helps you understand what really drives a business or organisation. For some, it will be profits and sales. For others, it will be its people and/or corporate social responsibility. You want to work somewhere that you’re proud to be a part of, and knowing what an organisation stands for and works towards will help you figure out if you will be proud to tell your friends about your job.
9: What sort of learning and development opportunities are there at this organisation?
Some organisations place a lot of importance on learning and development and some others are still a little unsure about it. My tip is that if you’re looking to grow and thrive in the role, look for an organisation that has a really solid learning and development program. A good program might include things like in-house training sessions, study leave so you can get paid to go and study, and opportunities to work in other areas so you can get better understand how the different little pieces fit together to make the big picture.
10: I want to walk out of this room knowing I have done everything I can to convince you I want this job. Is there anything you might be concerned about or that I have missed that I can address for you?
Now, this is my personal favourite question for a number of reasons. Leave this question for the very end of the job interview. Sometimes there are little niggling things about a candidate that the interviewers might have some concerns about. This can often be the difference between getting the awkward rejection email/call or being offered the role. The question provides a direct opportunity for the interviewers to discuss any minor concerns with you and, depending on your response, can often satisfy them to the point that it won’t be a problem anymore.
The questions you could (and should) ask will depend on the job you’re interviewing for and what you really want to know more about. Always take the opportunity to find out as much about the job as possible to ensure you make the right decision for not only yourself, but also for the organisation or business.
*almost certainly guarantee
** as judged by me