A job interview is a two-way street.
It’s a chance for a potential employer to find out more about your skills, experience, and personality. Firms also use interviews to determine whether you would fit into their company.
Importantly, though, it’s also an opportunity for you to get to know a firm and the way they work, as well as what they would expect from you.
We spend a huge amount of time at work — roughly 90,000 hours of our lives — so ensuring we are in the right job is essential. It’s easy to stick to answering questions in an interview, but it can be helpful to think of your own queries.
Not only will this help you find out if the company and position are right for you, but it may show interviewers just how interested and keen you are on the job. So what kind of questions should you ask employers during an interview?
“It’s important to plan well in advance what questions you want to ask a potential employer in a job interview,” according to career change coach Alice Stapleton.
“It shows you are prepared and that you have thought carefully about the company and job in question. It’s also a unique opportunity to interview potential colleagues on the areas that mean the most to you.”
Stapleton advised applicants to decide on two to three questions you need an answer to in order to make an informed decision about whether you’d want to work at a company.
“If your priority is career progression, ask about the company’s approach to training and development, or what the expected career journey would be of someone in that role,” she said. “You could also ask what the company’s five-year strategy is, in order to get an idea of what direction your career is likely to go in.”
If the way you are managed is essential, consider asking what the leadership style is of your potential line manager, Stapleton said.
“You could also ask the interviewers what their favourite thing about working there is. This may help you get a sense of the culture and priorities of the company and people that work there. A bolder choice might be to then ask what they perceive to be the worst thing about working there. Least then you know what you might be in for,” she said.
If you get a second interview, it can be helpful to ask if there might be an opportunity to meet the team.
“This enables you to get a sense of the atmosphere in the office as you walk through it, plus an initial take on whether you’d fit well into the dynamics and personalities already present in the team,” Stapleton said.
Vitalis Coaching founder Karin Peeters, a coach and psychotherapist, said that asking questions is a good way to find out if the company “values proactive employees” as well as those who “think and reflect and not just execute orders.”
Another helpful question may be to find out about the challenges facing the company at the moment, Peeters said, as well as how you working in the available role can contribute to overcoming them.
“This will show you are interested in the company as a whole,” she said. “But it will also give you insight into how stable the company is and if you'll have relative job-security once you join this company.”
Coach Kiki Stanton, founder of Kiki Kirby Coaching, advised applicants to ask what the company’s expectations are from you, how the company values their staff, why the job has become available, what the induction process is, and what your training and development would look like.
It can also be helpful to ask about the dynamics of the team, Stanton said.
“My best advice and tips are: do you research, be extremely prepared for the interview — know the competencies, behaviours, and requirements for the job, be yourself and be professional.”