3 Revealing Questions to Ask in Your Next Interview

These questions give you real insights into the company and the job.

One of the most important steps in preparing for an interview is creating a list of the questions you want to ask. Even professional interviewers like me can do with a little interview planning.

Remember that an interview is a conversation, and even though it may seem that the interviewer is in charge and holds all the power, the truth is that you’re both sizing each other up to see if there’s a fit. They’ll take the lead in asking questions most likely, and you should answer them honestly and expand on the stories of your experience.

But you have questions, too. No, this isn’t the time to ask about benefits, vacation or even salary. Save those for later. For the first interview, try asking these three questions instead, which will reveal more about the situation and whether you have a chance or not.

“How long was the last person in the job and where did they go?”

Often an interviewer will tell you all about the job and the company, but neglect to mention that three people were fired in the past three months, the department head is a micromanaging control freak, and the company is going under so people are jumping ship.

The answer to the “what happened” question can give you clues about possible issues or hard-to-meet expectations in the company. High turnover in a job usually means either problem managers or stressful work conditions or both, and noticing the signs in advance could save you from the same fate.

If they tell you that the last person is still working there, but they’re secretly interviewing to replace them, to me, that’s a warning that the company might not treat their people with honesty.

On the other hand, their answer might be a beacon of positivity. A newly created position usually means the company is growing, which means more opportunity for you. A promotion usually means people are rewarded for their success.  If someone just retired and you’re looking for a place to settle down for the rest of your career, that could be good news, too.

“What would the ideal experience and personality be for this job?”

This question gives you an invaluable look inside the expectations and priorities of the company. You may have read the formal job description, but if you’re lucky, now you’ll hear what they really want, and you’ll see how close you are to their vision and ideal candidate.

Timing is important with this one. Ask too soon and the interviewer won’t yet be comfortable enough to share the truth. Ask too late and you won’t have enough time left to make your case about how you fit their profile.

If you’re brave enough, you can follow up this by asking “How do you think I stack up to your ideal candidate?” at the end of the interview. You may not like what you hear, but it’s helpful to find out where you stand. And again, on the upside, when you know their reservations, then you can address them.

 “What is the next step and when will you be making your decision?”

Every company is different. Some companies might hire decisively on a first phone call, and on the other end of the spectrum, companies like Google have a lengthy process of phone screens, face-to-face interviews with a series of people, and testing which is well-described by blogger Don Dodge (in case you’ve been hoping to work for Google).

Asking about the timing lets you know what to expect. Even if you just get the standard “we’ll get back to you,” you’ll at least have a sense of whether they have a sense of urgency and how excited they are to move you forward in the process.

You’ll have other questions, of course. Some will be specific to the company (“How did the recent merger affect this department?”) or personally important to you (“How many hours a week does your average rep work?”), so include those in your list,too.

For your next interview, take the time to plan your questions in advance, and incorporate these three, and see how much more confident you feel in the interview conversation.

Taken from Lifegoesstrong.com