Interviewing the Interviewer

It is a common best practice for job seekers to prepare to put their best foot forward in an interviewer.  They will do research on the company and the position.  They will practice common interview questions.  Based on the job description they will consider likely behavioral interview questions and practice their responses.  They should also talk with their networking contacts about the company, the department and the role.  In spite of all this careful preparation, many candidates neglect to prepare for the critical aspect of interviewing the interviewer.

A major goal of the interview is for both parties to assess fit.  They only way the candidate can do this effectively is the have questions prepared to ask the interviewer.  Here are some valuable questions to consider:

Why is this position open at this time?  If it is a new position, you want to understand what business needs supported approval of a new position.  If it is a replacement, was the person promoted and they are backfilling the position or did the employee leave?  If the employee left, how long were they in the position?  How frequently is this position open?  You are seeking insight into the business need for the job, the success of people in this job and how this job is treated within the organization.

How will you evaluate success in this position in the first three, six and twelve months?  You want to know if they have clear expectations of what success looks like and how it is measured.  Are they realistic about the time it will take to ramp up in this new position?

Why did you choose to join this company?  What keeps you here?  Asking a general question about what the culture of the organization is like with likely get you a general answer.  When you personalize it you will hear a much more honest response.

How does this organization develop staff?  No one will promise you a promotion in so many months, and if they do it is likely a red flag.  Instead ask about how they invest in their staff to prepare them for future opportunities.  Do they provide training or support outside training?  Are staff members encouraged to attend relevant conferences?  Is there any type of mentoring program?

Ask about the future of the business  Do enough research to understand key growth initiatives and ask a relevant question that results in valuable information while also demonstrating that you did your homework.  Maybe it relates to a recent press release or a new product but you need to identify something that feels relevant and ask a specific question.

A job candidate can nail their responses to the interviewer’s questions but may not get the job if they are not also interviewing the interviewer.  In addition to the valuable insights you gain to help you assess fit, you are also demonstrating your interest and your preparation.


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