Career Advice

14 Top Questions to Ask an Interviewer

3
min read
Vera Chan

Why would you need to ask questions to an interviewer you might ask? Because it shows genuine interest in the role and initiative. It can also help you learn more details to help you decide whether this is the right position for you. Is the team right, do you think you can fulfill all the duties, is there anything left out of the description? These are all things that you need to identify during your interview. 

We've compiled a list of questions you can ask the interviewer to help you go from job search to securing a job. Ask a few questions from each category to help you get an overall idea of the company and the position as a whole.

Company

Learn more about the company by asking questions about the organisation. Get to know more about the people behind the brand beyond the mission statement and vision. Understand more about the company goals or changing direction. Know what it is like to work there before you join them.

1. What is the company culture like?

What is company culture? These are the combined values of a company, including its attitudes and behaviours. This affects the way people interact with each other and can influence working style. Ethics are also involved and expectations of leadership or goals.

Learn about the company's participation of employees. Do people like to work together as a team? Is it open-minded and a culture of sharing, so everybody works on an open plan? Is there a hierarchy? What is diversity like? Is the company young with mainly millennials? Do you think you will fit in?

 2. How does your company help employees with professional development?

This is an aspect close to many people's hearts, especially those who are ambitious. If you are keen to ensure you can grow without hitting a glass ceiling, this is a good question to ask. Can you get professional help to support you during your growth? Is there support for leadership or managers if you want to ascend? Do you want to excel in a certain area and want to improve on a skillset?

If the above are important to you, make sure the company you choose to work at includes education. A programme of classes or courses can be of interest. Or a mentorship or guidance programme can provide direction. 

3. What is the company's management style like?

What is management style? This is a way in which a manager works towards a goal. How do they process it and how do they fulfill it? It can include organisational measures, decision-making, and task delegation.

Why is it important? Because you want to ensure that you fit in with the same management style. If not, are you too set in your ways to work in this method? Assess how you like to work and if you can fit in or compromise. If not, maybe it's not for you. In any case, learning how people delegate or achieve a goal, says a lot about the person or team. This could also be a reflection of the company as a whole, so look at it from a wide lens.

Position

Learn more about the prospective job, what it entails and who will be involved day-to-day.

4. Who will be my direct report?

You may have a supervisor or a project manager whom you will work with closely. But is this person also your direct report? Or is there a higher manager who will be? Find out who you will be working with on a daily basis and who makes the final decision on your performance.

5. Is this a new position or a replacement?

As a job applicant, surely you would want to know if this is a position that has just been created. It could be for a new team, which means maybe there is no team structure yet. Is this too unorganised for you? Is the terrain too new? Or is this a circumstance you will thrive in?

If it's a replacement role, you might want to know why the previous employee left. Were they let go or did they move on to something else? Or did the job role change due to a restructure in the team. Find out more.

6. What career trajectory is there for this position?

Are you ambitious? Yes. Then find out if there is a proverbial glass ceiling at the company. How easy is it for women to ascend. Are there a lot of women in managerial positions? Are a lot of the women decision-makers? Is diversity balanced? Make sure there is a pathway to ascension so that you are learning and growing every step of the way.

 

Team

Meeting the team may not be part of the interview process. Perhaps you will never get to meet them until the day you join, if you decide to. So ask questions about your potential future fellow co-workers.

 7. How many people are on the team?

Maybe you thought there was a team, only to find out that you are a one-man band. Or maybe there are only two of you. Make sure you feel that you are going in well prepared and with the support required to fulfill your job duties. This does not mean overly relying on others, but it means you have the necessary roles within a team.

8. Are your teams structured in a certain way?

Is one single leader or several. Or are there no leaders? How does the hierarchy work if there is one. Find out where you are positioned amongst the ranks if so and discover if you are comfortable with that.

9. Are there team events?

Is there team-building to strengthen the bond between your co-workers? The more you get along, the easier it will be to communicate with each other and work together. Are there social activities after work or fun ice-breaking challenges? Find out your style and what you like.

10. How does the team communicate on a daily basis?

What programs or software tools do you use to talk to each other? Does everybody sit in front of a computer and message each other? Or is the team culture to have an impromptu or pre-planned sit down meeting? If technology is involved, you can familiarise yourself with these programs before starting.

 

Interview Process

Knowing how long the interview process will take is only half the battle. Knowing whether the interview was a success is also part of the anxious waiting period.  Ask the right questions so you don't feel like you're left hanging and endlessly waiting by the phone.

11. When are you looking for the right hire to start?

Don't ask this question if you are supposed to know this in advance already. Such as, if it is already mentioned in the job opening. Or if you went through an agency and the recruiter told you. If not, finding out this detail can give an indication of how close you are to the finale. Especially in comparison to the length of the interview process.

12. Who will make the final hiring decision?

Again, don't ask this question if this is something you are already meant to know. Sometimes human resources are not the clearest. Or perhaps the message wasn't passed on by your recruiter. In any case, find out the final decision-maker, so you can work your way closer towards that person.

13. What are the next steps in the interview process?

This question leads on from the above. The final decision-maker could be the Creative Director. But what if they're not on the list of interviewers? Who is the person in the final step of the chain of interviews? It could be an Art Director for instance, who will pass on their notes from the interview. So you know your impression will need to transcend to the Creative Director through them.

14. How can I follow up?

Got questions after an interview? This is common. It can happen. Even with a list of questions to ask an interviewer, you might let one slip through the cracks. Or there wasn't enough time to ask all of the important questions. Find out how you can continue to communicate with the interviewer.

The Bottom Line

Now that you have the whole picture, you can make an informed decision on the role if you have been given an offer. Tick the boxes as you go. Do you get along with the team? Yes. Do you work in the same management style? Yes. Is there an opportunity to grow? Yes.

Assess the position and if you decide to move onto the next step, you can then ask questions about the contract. Not sure what to do in between and are waiting for an offer? Read 10 Signs Your Interview Was a Success.

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