The Job Interview Questions Candidates Should Be Asking YOU!

Taylor Korsak
Posted: 08/10/2011

Prior to a job interview, interview process how-to’s often suggest that the job candidate should prepare a set of job interview questions for the hiring manager based on the position applied for, the company and its policies.

And it’s kind of common knowledge: asking the right questions demonstrates intelligence, awareness and a willingness to learn – all ideal qualities for an employee.

Though officially we have no way of knowing how much this part of the process affects or should affect decision-making, you can be sure the candidate’s turn to ask the questions during an interview offers him or her the opportunity to, if not move the process forward, illustrate seriousness about the position and to potentially take control of the interview.

For example, if the candidate finds the interviewer is ill-informed and cannot answer fairly basic questions about the position or company, the candidate could consider continuing his job search elsewhere. After all, the initial interview is representative of both parties, not only the candidate.

But let’s say a candidate has done the research and really desires to work at the company for which he has just landed an interview - what specific types of questions will exhibit the qualities mentioned above and contribute to an overall memorable and successful interview?

Many useful questions will come up naturally, some intuitively, but if it’s possible to create a sort of checklist of questions to look for, as well as prepare for, interviewers or hiring managers can make sure they have an edge when it comes to displaying their awareness and seriousness about representing the company and filling a position.

"I think they should ask questions that go far beyond ‘what's in it for them’," said Bill McCabe, Manager, Sourcing and Recruiting at Follett software, referring to benefits, salary, and hours. "I feel asking about expectations for the role is a good one, or better yet, how they can exceed them."

Point taken.

The "what’s in it for me?" angle will rarely impress an interviewer as he or she is full aware that those concerns are on the candidate’s mind. If you encounter a question about exceeding expectations, the candidate is demonstrating alignment with the company’s interests and intentions to go above and beyond.

You want to hear questions that illustrate a candidate’s enthusiasm about possibly being a part of the team while also expressing decisiveness.

"Questions surrounding the size of the team and the scope of the work done are good because they allow the interviewer to envision a candidate actually being in that role," said Debra Wheatman, president of Careers Done Write. "Probing questions aimed at getting a deeper understanding of how the organization functions are good because they will let the interviewer know you are ready to get down to business."

Scott Esposito, managing director of Horton International who specializes in executive searches, offered a top five list of questions which he says have helped candidates rise above the rest.

"1) Describe the organization structure (to probe at layers, management spans, product and market orientation).

2) How is performance measured (company / individual)?

3) Where have prior incumbents gone (progressed to) from this position?

4) Question to the hiring manager: How have you progressed against your own career goals at this company?

5) What strategic initiatives or changes are required going forward and how do you see this role making a significant impact?"

He added, "These five come up most frequently and in my experience the ones who ask them fall at the top of the list, post interview."

As long as your interviewee is not probing you like an investigative journalist, they should ask questions that demonstrate an ability to make informed decisions, rather than impulsive ones.

So look for questions like these – if asked, the candidate is using the interview opportunity to really explore the company’s structure.

"Any question that really gets the hiring team to think about their own process is a great question," McCabe added.

Taylor Korsak
Posted: 08/10/2011

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