Three Questions to Ask in an Interview

Determining if a job is the right fit for you before accepting it can be a challenge. You can learn a lot about a company from publicly available information, their website, and job descriptions, but it’s still hard to get a good sense of what it would actually be like to work there. That’s why it’s so important to take the opportunity to ask your own questions during a job interview. It’s your chance to get a better feel for the culture, the team, and leadership. So here are three questions to ask that will help you gain more insight and determine if the role is one in which you can thrive.

What does success look like in this role?

If the hiring team has done an adequate job of planning for this role, they should be able to provide a clear answer. By asking this question, you’ll be able to determine if their definition of success aligns with yours. If it doesn’t, then you need to consider whether you're comfortable moving forward knowing there’s a gap between your expectations.If they can’t answer this question, odds are they haven’t given much thought past the need to fill a role. When a manager is unable to define success in the role they are seeking to fill, it raises concerns as to how prepared they are to guide or coach the person filling it. Additionally, there is a risk that if you accept the role, you might find yourself doing a job that’s completely different from the one described in the original listing.

What are your expectations of the person you hire for this role in the next 30, 60,  and 90 days?

The hiring team’s answer to this question will let you know how prepared they are for onboarding. If they don’t have an answer, or they’re clearly making it up on the spot, they probably haven’t invested any time in developing an onboarding and integration plan for the role. If you aren’t a person who thrives in situations where you’re expected to jump in and figure it out, then a place with no plan to get you started might not be the best fit for you.This question also provides an opportunity for you to determine if their expectations for that timeframe align with yours. For example, if the hiring manager expects you to complete a large project shortly after onboarding, consider whether the work pace required to complete that task feels doable. Their response may also highlight expectations not included in the job description, providing you with even more insight into the role.

What’s your favorite part about working here, and what don’t you like?

Ask this question of each person who interviews you. Getting multiple responses will provide you with a variety of experiences to compare so you can get a better feel for the work environment. If you get vague responses that sound canned or “safe”, the interviewer might be hiding something, or they may be reluctant to talk about what’s really going on at the company. This could be an indication of an unhealthy work culture. If this happens, be sure to ask follow-up questions to help you get a better understanding of the environment you’d be walking into. If you get a similar response from multiple sources on the worst part of working there, be sure to ask what’s being done to change it.

Finding Your Match

Looking for a new job is a lot like dating. Interviews are your chance to get to know the company, the role and the people you’d be working with, and it’s also a chance for them to get to know you. You’re all looking for the best match. Pay attention to the questions they ask, don’t be afraid to take notes, and ask questions throughout the interview. If you are interviewing for multiple roles, write a summary of your observations and anything you were excited about or put off by after each interview while it’s all still fresh in your mind. Compensation and benefits packages are super important, but you should also be looking for a role and team you’ll enjoy. So be bold, ask questions, and gather the information you need to make the best decision for yourself.

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Cecilia Lopez

Cecilia is a social entrepreneur dedicated to helping people find meaningful work that contributes to a more equitable and just world for all. She holds an MBA in Sustainable Business and Systems Thinking, and after a successful career in corporate accounting, she began to seek opportunities to augment her impact. In addition to co-founding Handprint, Cecilia has served as a volunteer board member of Blue Sky Center, a nonprofit serving rural communities in the Cuyama Valley, and, a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring and supporting changemakers. In her free time Cecilia enjoys hiking with her partner and their two puppies, crocheting stuffed animals for donations to Blue Sky, and connecting with friends.