Every interview also has a part where your potential future employer gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you might have about the company and how it is to work there. You must understand that while this is a great opportunity for you to understand the company better your potential employer also rates what kind of questions you might have.
Why is it important to ask powerful questions?
If I interview someone and he keeps asking me only about the benefits and unpleasant things he might need to do, that is a massive red flag to me. While there is a place for this type of questions they would usually come after a job offer and not as the main questions.
This is a big insight for every hiring manager from the other perspective which is often overlooked. Everyone prepares for tough questions, but nobody prepares to ask them.
I also like to ask my future co-worker an open-ended question as this offers enough flexibility for him to start talking about things he is passionate about.
20 unique and powerful interview questions to ask your hiring manager overview
- What is the most frustrating part of working for this company?
- What is the most challenging part of working for this company?
- What is the most satisfying part of working for this company?
- What will be my tasks for the first month, first 3 months and first 6 months?
- How does success look like for this role?
- Are the expectations for this role clearly defined or are you looking for a self-starter?
- What would my typical day look like?
- How does this role contribute to company success?
- Are there any metrics to measure success in this role and if yes what are they?
- What was the motivation for you to join this company?
- If you have been working for this company for a long time, what keeps you motivated?
- What do you think would be the biggest challenge for this position?
- If you could name one thing that is most important for this position, what would it be?
- What opportunities will I have to learn and grow?
- What are the core values that the company stands for?
- What did you change the most in the company in the last year?
- What do you think the company should change in the future?
- What do you think the company should continue doing?
- How much will I be able to shape my role
- How is the team structure organized in this company?
Deep dive into the questions and what is the motivation behind them
1. What is the most frustrating part of working for this company
This is an open-ended question that leaves the doors open to see what is potentially wrong with the company. This is a very powerful question, the interviewer cannot say everything is fine as no company is perfect and he also won’t say he hates it. Take things with a grain of salt and understand that they are underplaying things to some extent probably but it is a really good indicator to find out where the problem areas are. If you think these problems are basic things that should not come up, you most probably don’t want to work for this company.
2. What is the most challenging part of working in this company?
This is also an open-ended question that can tell you what you need to focus on to be successful and it can also tell you possibly which area your peers failed at. It also tells you if this is something you can probably handle or not. If the challenging part, for example, are constant tight deadlines and you don’t like to work under high pressure than you might want to look for another position. However, if you thrive in such situations this is a good sign.
3. What is the most satisfying part of working for this company?
This is also important if there is nothing satisfying at work it is highly likely you will not work long for that company. You can understand quite a bit about the person you are talking to if you know what their passion is and what makes them happy. As the interviewer is potentially your next boss or coworker this question becomes very useful in determining what kind of people you will be working with.
4. What will be my tasks for the first month, first 3 months and first 6 months?
This is a really important question. You know what you have to do right in order to succeed and you also know the timeframe for it. When you get an answer you should ask your self:
- Can I do these things?
- Do I have enough experience to do them well?
- Is it challenging enough for me to grow and learn?
- Is it what I want to be doing at my next job?
- Is it what I was expecting when applying for this position?
This is most helpful for managing expectations. You must know what you are getting into when you start working for a new company.
5. How does success look like for this role?
This is less about what you have to do specifically and more about a high-level overview about the role in general. How you have to act, communicate, deliver, and so on. The answer might be you need to increase website conversion by x, which is a success, but it doesn’t tell you how to get there, this is something you have to figure out your self while doing your job. It also tells you if the expectations are realistic or not. Is it doable or is it a moon shot?
6. Are the expectations for this role clearly defined or are you looking for a self-starter?
This one is important to know, as from my experience there are two types of people, one who excel in an environment where they have a clearly defined process and people who are self-starters and are excellent in finding what to do and prioritize work appropriately. In order to thrive at any job you must understand how you function best and try to figure out if the company will give you what you need to do your job the best way you can do.
7. What would my typical day look like?
This question can answer what your typical day to day activities might be and if they are similar to what you might be expecting. You can see if you will have many meetings, or if you will have a lot of time to do focused work. Is it monotone and every week looks the same or if it is dynamic and every week brings you a new challenge. Some people need to be challenged and some people need good structure and processes.
8. How does this role contribute to company success?
If this role is not directly linked to the success of the company then your impact might be limited and your work will be less valuable. Is this a high impact position or is it something you can hide for the next 10 years. Will you be able to deliver what you want or is it just a paper position, where your voice is not heard.
9. Are there any metrics to measure success in this role and if yes what are they?
If there are no clearly defined metrics then your success will be purely depending on what your line manager thinks about you which is very subjective. This is a double-edged sword. If your manager likes you, he will reward you but if he thinks less of your work it will make it much harder to argue about your achievements. Always try to have some sort of metrics defined where your work can be measured against.
10. What was the motivation for you to join this company?
If you will be working with the interviewer this can give you a good understanding if his priorities are aligned with yours. Another question might also be if those expectations were met by the company and to what extent.
11. If you have been working for this company for a long time, what keeps you motivated?
You need to find motivation at work otherwise everything gets more difficult and success is less likely. This question tells you more about the interviewer than the company itself but if you know you will have to work closely with that person it is valuable to understand his standpoint and motivation in the company.
12. What do you think would be the biggest challenge for this position?
This is highly valuable information. Someone who knows this position will tell you what will be challenging, so you can prepare for it before you even start working in the company. Before asking this question you need to be sure that the interviewer understands the role you are applying for. Sometimes the interviewer is called in just to asses a specific are of your knowledge so you need to have the right audience for this type of question.
13. If you could name one thing that is most important for this position, what would it be?
This one is similar to the one above but is more generic and open-ended so you leave the interviewer more options, to be honest about what he thinks. It is useful to listen carefully and dig deeper to find out more.
14. What opportunities will I have to learn and grow?
If you don’t grow at your job, you will fall behind and your career will suffer. It is highly important that the company offers what you need for your growth. This might not be important for the next couple of weeks or months, but in a few years continued learning and professional growth will bring you much further than anything else. If the company doesn’t provide enough stimulus it is much more likely that you will stagnate and fall behind.
15. What are the core values that the company stands for?
If the core values of the company misalign with your core values than long term cooperation will be difficult. It also tells you if the interviewer understands the values this company stands for as if he doesn’t chances are the values are only written on paper and most people in the company don’t believe in them anyway.
16. What was the biggest change in the company in the last year?
Why is this important? Even if the company is everything you dream of but it is going in the wrong direction, chances are that in some time you won’t be satisfied anymore. I prefer to work at a company that is not in a perfect situation but has a clear goal that resonates with me than working for a company that already achieved everything and is now pursuing something I cannot get behind.
17. What do you think the company should change in the future?
If you will be working with the interviewer this can give you a good understanding if his priorities are aligned with yours. No company is perfect and knowing what needs improvement can give you a good insight into what you will have to focus on for the foreseeable future. You should also understand if this is something that can easily be changed and if not do you really want to spend the next couple of years there.
18. What do you think the company should continue doing?
This one is similar to the one above and can potentially give you a piece of similar information. This is a standard question at team retros and for 360 reviews and it also aligns perfectly to ask about the company. It tells you what works and you can see if that is something that is important to you or not.
19. How much will I be able to shape my role?
If you are an independent person this is very important, do you think you will be happy if everything about the role is already defined and you have no say in it? I think having some autonomy is necessary to be happy at work. If you have little room chances are you won’t like it or you will outgrow the position and start looking for new challenges elsewhere.
20. How is the team structure organized in this company?
Understanding the team structure can help you understand how everything works in the company and what the organization looks like. Is it a flat structure, will you have access to decision-makers or will everything be delegated down to you? Will you have the resources needed in the team or will there be a gap that will make it harder for you to succeed?
I hope this gave you enough potential questions for you to prepare so you can stand out in the interview process.
Please leave a comment if you have a question you think is valuable and I missed it.