In today’s current job landscape, many have found themselves looking for work because of the vast changes the pandemic has brought across most industries. Perhaps you have been laid off from your previous company due to COVID-19 or because you are a recent college graduate trying to navigate your job search in an ever-changing climate, or are re-entering the workforce after some time away from your career.
Whatever the reason for your job search, remember that once you secure an interview, you can also use this time to determine if this is the right move for your career. In most interviews, the interviewer will give you some time to ask questions about the job and the company. It is important to use this time to ask the right questions to ensure that this position is mutually beneficial for both you and the company.
Here is a list of possible questions to ask interviewers over the course of your job interview along with an in-depth look at why these questions are important.
What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
This is one of the most important questions that you can ask because the answer will give insight on what to really expect in your potential new role. Sometimes this answer can be a bit vague, especially if the daily tasks vary significantly from day to day. To get more specific answers, follow up this question with other questions like “do you foresee any projects coming up that require skills not mentioned in the job description?” Or, “how do the tasks and responsibilities of this position change throughout the year?” Depending on the job and industry, it’s not uncommon for responsibilities to change given the current quarter or season. Get ahead of any unforeseen tasks you may be under or even overqualified for.
What qualities or personality traits would help a potential candidate succeed in this role?
When asking this question, it is important to receive the information through the lens of who you are now, not who you could be. Oftentimes when interviewees ask this question, they take the feedback as a list of characteristics they would need to adopt to get the job instead of being honest with themselves about who they are now. Depending on how drastically different the company’s desired employee characteristics are to your current personality traits, you may be able to get away with being slightly different– a little bit of a fresh perspective could bring some great new ideas to the table. But if you sense that your personality is drastically different from what the company is looking for, it may be in your best interest to turn down this opportunity and search for others. Pursuing a job that you aren’t a good fit for will inevitably put you back in the job search sooner rather than later.
What benefits are offered?
Employee benefits are important and they can be a make or break decision when pursuing a new job. But depending on the stage in your interview, you don’t want to bring this question up. Asking about benefits too early during your interview process could be off-putting to recruiters and may make it seem like you’re already assuming the position. However, if it does come up naturally, you could ask further about the types of benefits available to employees. As the interview process progresses, the main benefits you’ll want to look for are health insurance, life insurance, family medical leave, maternity or paternity leave, and disability (short or long term).
Remember that while employer-provided life insurance is a great benefit to have, sometimes it is not always enough coverage. In general, experts recommend securing 10-15x your annual income when determining a policy coverage amount. If this amount is not offered through your new organization, it is worth seeking supplemental life insurance coverage through a separate company to ensure that your financial needs are supported. In particular, if you have a family that depends on the income from your job, it is important to make sure that you have enough coverage to protect them if you were to unexpectedly pass away. Additionally, employer-provided life insurance is usually non-transferable so if you were to make a job change, keep in mind you may lose this policy.
What is the training period like?
It takes time to adjust to any big life change, including a new job. While you can typically expect the initial few weeks to be nerve racking, the onboarding process is much less stressful if the prospective company provides thorough and extensive new hire training. Though a fairly common interview question, it is an important one. If you receive an offer and accept the position, will you be thrown into the deep end and be expected to start swimming? Or, will your new company throw you a lifeboat and help you get to shore safely? Each company is different in regards to their process for onboarding new hires and depending on your experience in the field, this question could be the difference between starting a new job with excitement and eagerness or anxiety and fear. Additionally, be sure to ask about continuous training opportunities to ensure that you are supported during your entire time working for the company, not just at the beginning.
What is the company culture like?
Now more than ever, it is important for companies to have a consistent and desirable internal company culture and asking your interviewer this question will help you better understand whether or not this is the type of company you want to work for. Since this question can be quite vague, it is important to follow up with more detailed questions that can derive clearer answers. For example, consider asking “how does the company celebrate success?,” “how do managers support and encourage their teams?,” “do you provide work from home opportunities or flexible work arrangements?,” and “what employee perk or benefit do you utilize most?” Think about where you place your value most in a workplace. Whether it’s nonprofit involvement and corporate social responsibility or a diverse and inclusive workplace– don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer for clarification on their company’s culture.
What do you like best about your job?
When asking this question, really pay attention to your interviewer’s response as well as their nonverbal cues. If they really love their job and company, chances are that they will come up with a handful of answers without much hesitation. If it takes longer than anticipated for your interviewer to share their thoughts, you may need to be weary that there may currently be some turmoil within the company. Also pay attention to the depth and sincerity of their answers. It is usually easy to tell a strong and confident response from a weak and uncertain one and both may give you a more realistic answer for better or worse.
What growth opportunities are available to someone in this position?
This is a great question to ask, especially if you are applying for an entry level position. Asking this question shows that you are looking to grow within a company and stay for the long haul. To further this question, ask your interviewer what characteristics and accomplishments management looks for in an employee when promoting from within. If there are many roles at the company that you are potentially interested in, be sure to find out if the company encourages internal movement to different roles and departments.
What are the next steps in the interview process?
This is always a great way to end an interview. It shows that you are forward thinking and interested in the position. Plus, it gets you on the same page as your interviewer and makes you aware of what to expect. No matter the next steps, always be sure to follow up with your interviewer via email within 24 hours to thank them for their time. Explain the parts of your discussion that made you particularly excited about the prospect of joining their team. Doing so shows that you genuinely paid attention and were fully present in the interview. End the email by giving them permission to reach you at any time if they need more information from you.
Remember that when you are searching for a job, it is important that your interviewer takes the time to get to know you but also that you get a chance to know the company better. During your interview, make sure to have questions prepared to help give you a better understanding of the company to ensure that you are making the right move to further your career.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1800 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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