4 Questions to ASK During an Interview
So you're nearing the end of your highly anticipated job interview. It's gone pretty well. You've shown you studied up on the company by talking about its latest blog post or referencing a recent project you admire. You've been enthusiastic, highlighted your experience, and maintained your cool.
Then, they ask you. What questions do you have for us?
Panic. In doing your homework, you didn't prepare for this. All your research gave you a pretty good idea about the position and the values that guide the business. How could you have any questions?
The truth is, no matter how well versed you are about a company before an interview, you don't know everything that goes on behind the curtain. Now is your chance to find out some valuable information that may help you decide whether this job is really right for you. And that doesn't include pay. Save that for the negotiating process after someone has contacted you with an offer. There are other things aside from the almighty dollar that you should be considering.
4 Questions to Ask
Can you tell me about the benefits you offer?
Hopefully this was already covered, but if not, you definitely need to ask. If you're a parent, or expect to be, you may want to find out how flexible your work schedule might be, as well as vacation and sick time. What type of health care is offered (if any), and does that include vision or dental? Is a 401k or any type of retirement fund available? For you, these could be very important factors.
What kind of challenges has this company faced recently, and how were they overcome?
This question will help reveal how the business operates. If your interviewer struggles to provide an example or refers to something that seems safe to you, that may indicate that the work environment doesn't change much and maybe runs at a slow pace. It could also suggest that the company isn't innovative. You'll be able to read between the lines based on the type of industry you work in and the position you're looking to fill.
What are some traits a person in this position should posses?
No, you're not trying to measure yourself up. Listen to what the interviewer says and take notes. If you don't posses any of the traits he or she lists, you'll know how you are expected to act on the job from day one, and what soft skills you need to work on, or whether this job is right for you. If you do match up with his or her list, congrats! Make sure you note those when you follow up either in person or with a letter.
How will a person in this position know he or she is doing a good job?
Whoever wrote the job listing may have specified the skills needed for the position, but that doesn't necessarily mean someone with those skills is going to be successful in that role. You want to find out how your possible future employer defines success. How do they conduct employee reviews and how often? How do they recognize employee success — publicly with a big party or privately with a 'thank you' card? Some people like to showoff their achievements while others would prefer a pat on the back from the boss.
There are a multitude of other questions you can ask, which can be found on other blogs. But these are four that you could (and maybe should) bring up during any interview.
In the meantime, happy hunting!
Ryan Young is a designer and illustrator in Des Moines, Iowa. He currently works as a project lead at Visionary Services downtown in the East Village. Check him out on Twitter @rcyou.