How to Prepare for an Interview: What questions do they expect me to ask?
Updated: Jun 1
WHAT QUESTIONS DO THEY EXPECT ME TO ASK? The first time I was ever asked if I had any questions to ask the interviewer, I blanked! I had spent so much time anxiously figuring out how to make myself look good to them in the interview, I hadn’t taken any time to reflect on what I needed from them (other than the job, of course!) I didn’t get that job. I did, however, get another job that turned out to be a horrific experience due to my lack of inquiring about aspects of the position that turned out to be wildly misrepresented in the job description. Lesson Learned – ASK QUESTIONS!
While moving across the U.S. I quickly progressed in the interview experience and went on to conduct a lot of interviews myself as an HR professional, sitting on the receiving end of great questions from great candidates. It is a fact that you need to embrace the two-way interview and it is your responsibility to ask questions of the interviewer to know if they are the right organization for you to spend most of your waking hours, education, skills, and talent. All it took was one horrific experience of working in a position that did not fit to clearly help me identify my end of the bargain in the interview.
WHY YOU NEED TO BE PREPARED TO ASK QUESTIONS. I still get asked the question: ‘Why do interviewers ask this question?’ I’ve given a wealth of responses and they all boil down to what others agree is an opportunity to truly show your interest in being success within the new organization. Alison Green of Ask a Boss offers that this is an opportunity to see how prepared you are to explore company fit for you. Being prepared to ask questions about your boss, the job, and other aspects of the organization shows that you are sincerely interested in being successful. In addition, Joe Turner who writes for Monster.com, offers 6 Must-Ask Questions that provide you with detailed information to gage the atmosphere you may be stepping into, to include information about the person you may be replacing if the new role has been made vacant.
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TO ASK? You should develop a list of questions to help you understand if the company’s culture and environment are a good fit. I recommend two categories of questions: I divide them into ‘success’ and ‘environment’. ‘Success’ questions allow the interviewer to provide information about how your performance will be measured, who you would report to, who you would work with if on a team, and what projects you may be stepping into should you be their selection. Environment questions are the social, philanthropic, and culture the organization supports and participates in.
WHAT ARE GOOD QUESTIONS TO ASK? The following questions are what I use as stand by questions and they get customized as needed:
Environment (take your pick):
What activities does the department do together socially?
How would you describe the environment here?
What do you enjoy most about working here?
If you could brag about one thing about working here, what would that be?
I noticed on your website that you support (cite org/non-profit, cause), how is that supported from the employee side?
What do most people typical wear to work? (make this about them, not you – even though you really want to know what you should be wearing should you get the job)
Success (take your pick):
What does a typical day of responsibilities look like for this role?
What has someone in this position done to be highly successful in the past?
In this role, how is performance evaluated on a regular basis?
What is the #1 goal for this role to accomplish in their first month? Year?
What types of projects will this role step into right away?
Can you tell me more about the people this position works with, reports to, or collaborates with on a regular basis?
What do you see as the challenges in this position?
Note: The questions you should ask will depend upon who you get to interview with and you may need to have different questions for different people. For example, if you are interviewing with the recruiter, they may not be able to answer any of these questions. If you are interviewing with the hiring manager, they may only be able to answer some of these questions and if you are interviewing with the manager you would report to, they may be able to answer all of them. Keep in mind you may not need to ask all of them to get the information you seek. The interview is a 2-way interview, so be prepared to gather your information too.
To learn more about how to utilize this information, gain personal coaching for your own interview success, or help someone else gain these insights, reach out to me, Carole Stizza with Relevant Insight Coaching. I love to root for everyone in the job hunt adventure – you should not be doing it alone! Let me know what you are going through and your successes. Sharing always helps others.
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Interviews fall short if you don’t learn how to be relevant, both in understanding your own success and how it aligns with the job you want (and what the company wants from you). Interviewing UP shows you how to stop reaching for canned answers and start rising to the occasion with relevant information.