10 Questions To Ask An Employer During An Interview"

by Lauren Schneidewind on January 19, 2016

We have all been there, on the other side of the table with someone watching our every move. They are asking questions about us, and we have to figure out how to say what we need to say in order to impress the person on the other side. However, an interview is a two-way street. We are not the only ones in the hot seat. We are also interviewing the company and potential co-workers on whether or not they are a fit for us. From the interviewers perspective, I am usually disappointed with this section of the interview, because no one asks me questions about my company (I love talking about myself and my company). Ask about me; let me prove myself to you too. Give me hard questions to answer. By asking tough questions, you are setting a tone during the interview too. You are letting the employer know that they must be good enough for you as well.

I spent a great deal of time job interviewing off and on for the better part of 20 years. I consider myself to be an ambitious individual (or I was just really good at finding what I didn’t like to do), so I was constantly on the lookout for career growth opportunities. I can realistically say I have probably had around 100 interviews (formal and informal). During all of those interviews I have asked many questions to the potential employers, and there are ten that stick out to me as being the most helpful. I would also like to preface that these questions are great to gauge the company as a whole. (Tread lightly with some of these):

  1. What are the company’s goals (and are you on track)?

It is great to know what the company’s plans are and if they are going to make their goals, this might be why they are hiring. A company’s ability to achieve goals is a great indicator for the overall health of the company. There can be many reasons why goals aren’t met; they can be too high, unrealistic, lack of strategy, motivation issues, etc….

  1. Has the company ever had to do layoffs?

No one likes to talk about layoffs, but this answer is crucial. I am looking for trends with this question. One blip isn’t going to turn me away, but if this is routine practice, then I probably do not want to be involved with this company even if my position is safe. A company that yo-yo’s a lot is not stable, career development will be limited and not to mention company culture won’t be great. This is a big red flag for me.

  1. Are you growing? (People, financially, etc.…)

We all want to be part of something that is growing. If a company is in the middle of a reorganization, the last hires are usually on the chopping block. Are divisions being sold off? This might indicate money or stability issues. How is the health of the particular division you will be working in?

  1. Why are you interviewing for this position? What do you hope to gain by filling this position?

I love to understand how organized a company/individual is. This question provides a great deal of information regarding how well the position aligns within the company as well as its use. If the interviewer stumbles with this one it might indicate potential concerns with accountability, and overall uncertainty with the company’s goals and strategy.

  1. What is the turnover rate?

This is another way of asking are employees happy? If the turn over rate is high, it is high for a reason. Most people aren’t constantly job hopping because they are happy with their current job, there is a reason. If most of the team has worked there for years and years, then most of them should be happy with their jobs.

  1. How do you support career growth?

This is a great way to see if your career aspirations will be supported within the company. Do they promote from within? Or will they keep you as a developer and never promote you because you staying in one spot is more valuable to them?

  1. May I see the area I will be working in?

I have gone back and forth with this one, but it is important to know where you will be working. I have interviewed for positions in the past where the area I interview in is amazing, then I come to find out I am going to be placed in the corner and sharing a desk. It is great to know where you will be physically located since you might be spending more than a third of your day there, everyday. This can also provide more information on the value the company places on this position, where you are placed can matter.

  1. What have past employees done to succeed in this position?

This question can provide a great deal of information as to career opportunities within the company as well as understanding the standards for this particular position. This could be a great indicator of the company’s culture since successful traits are probably important throughout the company.

  1. What do you enjoy most about working here?

This is a great time to watch for nonverbal communication, assess changes in their body language, are the clamoring up? Well, this might be the most honest answer you have received so far. If they have hesitations about naming positive items they enjoy, then you probably will too after working at the company for a few months.

  1. Do you have any concerns about me filling this position?

This one might be hard to ask because of the answer it might lead to. However, this is a great opportunity to find out what the interviewers think of your skills. This also gives you the opportunity to explain any potential shortfalls within your skill set. Or you find out you might not be a great fit, but I think it is better to find out sooner rather than later. It is better to have an opportunity to explain yourself in person than have them think about it after the interview.

These 10 interview questions can be an outline to create your own questions for great interviews. A great deal of information can be obtained by asking the right questions. I do care about the direct answers to many of these questions, but it is the wealth of indirect knowledge I receive from each of the question that I am really after. Good luck and I wish you the best on your career aspirations. I would love to start a conversion about what you think is important for a job interview, let’s chat!

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