One of the most common question I get from aspiring job seekers is “what questions should I ask the interviewer” during the job interview. Knowing how to approach interview questions you should be asking isn’t difficult, but does require a little guidance.
First – consider who you are interviewing with. If you are interviewing with a front line / first level manager, your questions will be different than if you were speaking to a Director/VP at the company. Likewise, if the company is a large corporation versus a small family owned business also matters. So let’s dive in.
Interview Questions with a Front Line Manager or Supervisor
Keep in mind these guiding principles when formulating what questions to ask in a job interview, and you will nail the interview:
- Front line managers are given goals to hit and their primary focus is on managing their teams to hit those goals
- Company strategy, business results, and company growth questions may not be suited for this audience.
- Focus on day to day challenges, what the onboarding and ramp up plans look like, and why they chose to come work here.
So, here are some sample questions for this audience – remember, tailor them to the specific company and opportunity and don’t necessarily use “as-is”:
- What brought you to this company?
- What are some of your challenges on a weekly/monthly basis, and if I was in this role how could I help address some of your goals and objectives?
- Describe the culture of your team/organization and the company as a whole
- What would the first 3 months look like in this role?
- Why is this role available now? Did someone leave, new position due to growth, etc
- What are key priorities short term for me to accomplish in this role?
Interview Sample Questions for Senior Executives
The key here is to think about the difference in goals this person has versus a more junior manager. A Director/Vice President will have higher level goals such as growing the business by x%, reducing costs, improving efficiency, introducing new products and services, etc. Asking the right questions in a job interview can distinguish you and help increase your odds of landing this job.
Keeping in mind these higher level, revenue and cost focused goals, here are some sample interview questions to ask at this level:
- What are some of the business opportunities and challenges for the company, and you organization?
- What does your organizations strategic plan focus on for the next 1-3 years?
- Where would my contributions in this role fit into the bigger picture of achieving these company objectives?
- What are some of the market challenges associated with growing the business?
- What type of soft skills do you think it takes to succeed in this company / culture
I hope these sample interview questions to ask help put you in the right frame of mind to ask questions based on the interviewers role. Keep in mind lower level managers are focused on very specific goals and objectives, and need their teams aligned and delivering on a daily/weekly basis – that is where their attention will be.
Senior executives are more business leaders, and own making the strategic calls across priorities, projects, resources, and budgets to hit company objectives relative to growth, margins, and costs. Questions you should ask in a job interview with these individuals should be high level strategy type questions.
Never be afraid to ask tough questions – remember, you are giving up a portion of your life to this company, and you want to ensure you have all the facts before you get an offer and have to make a decision. I, as well as others, have not always asked the right questions and found ourselves in a mess after 6-12 months. It is your job to learn as much about the company, role, and management approach before you decide to commit.
It isn’t all about the money – it is about whether you’d be happy going into work every day.