Job Hunting? How to Interview Your Interviewer

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Looking for a promotion, career change or a new job? When preparing for your next interview, it’s one thing to get your resume and yourself in order, along with intelligent responses to the questions that you’ll be asked during the interview process. However, to best separate yourself from the other candidates and find the ideal position for you, develop your list of interviewing questions to ask at the right time, so that you are well prepared to interview the interviewer.

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Whether you’re looking for an internal promotion, a career change or a new job, at some point, you’re going to have some interviews lined up. As a potential candidate for the job, you may be feeling confident and prepared for the interview process. You’ve made a list of the questions you anticipate that you will be asked during the interview process and practiced answering them with well thought out, intelligent and compelling responses. You feel that you’re well positioned and ready to distinguish yourself from the other candidates that you are competing against.

However, to truly separate yourself from the rest of the pack and make yourself memorable and a fit for the position in the eyes of your next potential employer or boss, make sure you are also prepared to interview the company that you may be working for.

The Interview Process Goes Both Ways

I’ve coached thousands of professionals around career transitions to help them find the ideal career for them. We begin by identifying what their ideal job and career path would look like, along with the skills, attitude and characteristics needed to succeed in that position. We discuss the various industries, the companies to target and how to go about identifying those ideal companies.

Then, we work on their CV or resume to ensure that it is best aligned with the position they are interviewing for. When the time comes, we then discuss the companies they are interviewing with, conduct our due diligence around these companies and review the interviewing process each company would put them through. We anticipate the number of interviews they may be going on for that position, along with who they may be interviewing with and what might be asked of them throughout this process.

I coach each client around how to effectively communicate and present themselves to ensure they are the candidate of choice and secure that desired position. We talk through many of the questions that their potential employer could or would ask them during the interview process and how to best respond to each question. We discuss hygiene and the appropriate attire to wear during the interview. We simulate different scenarios (individual interviews, group interviews, simulation exercises, writing exercises, shadowing or joint field rides with other current employees or salespeople, etc.) so they feel confident and prepared for every question, exercise, challenge and request that’s thrown at them.

Yet, while many people go through this process in preparation for their next job interview in order to make a positive, lasting impression, there’s one area I see candidates often step over which I ensure never gets missed. That is, what are the questions that you, the candidate, need to ask your next potential employer?

The Cost of Not Interviewing the Interviewer

What many people who are desperately searching for their next job don’t realize is, the interview process goes both ways. At some point during the process, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions about their company and the position.

Whether you realize this or not, how you respond to this question and the questions you respond with will either make you a prime candidate or quickly disqualify you.

As someone who’s been in the interviewing seat for many years, I always ask candidates, “So, what questions do you have or what else would you like to know about this position, our company, me, as well as your responsibilities and expectations regarding your performance?” And yet, I’m always amazed when the response I hear is, “No, I don’t have any other questions.” As an employer, you want to question those candidates who don’t interview you.

What these candidates don’t realize is, this very response, by default, has already eradicated them from the pool of candidates. Why? Because if you are not asking me certain questions, that is a warning sign of several possible scenarios that get my spider senses tingling.

  1. You may not be that interested in the position.
  2. You may not have put enough thought into this position to assess if it’s even right for you.
  3. You are desperate and are looking to take any job you can get, whether or not it’s a good fit for you and the company. And even if you are offered the job, there are too many studies and data points that demonstrate a direct correlation between job satisfaction and individual performance. In other words, if you’re not happy at your job or don’t deal well with change or the current work environment, you run the risk of becoming that toxic employee. No employer wants someone like this to poison the well; that is, their team, their culture and most important, their customers.
  4. You are intimidated or scared to ask the questions that you know need to be asked. As such, is this the type of confident and forthright candidate a company would want in the first place? Or, are you sending a message to the employer that you’ll be the type of employee who just sits back and internalizes all the negativity and what you don’t like, until the point of eruption or worse, quietly gets other people to join your rebellion. Enter the consummate complainer.
  5. If you’re not asking the right questions now, what questions, facts or responsibilities regarding the position are going to come up later after potentially being employed that would make you and the company realize you were the wrong hire?
  6. You’re making tons of assumptions about the position and about your manager; possibly based on some past experiences. As such, if and when you get hired, you then find out that the position you thought you had secured was not what you wanted at all. So, you wind up leaving or getting terminated; costing you, as well as the company time and money.

You Want the Job But Are You a Fit?

While you may feel that you’re a fit for the industry and even the company, it doesn’t mean that the company is a good a fit for you.

After all, if you don’t uncover the facts and the specifics surrounding the position, then even the most attractive opportunity can quickly turn into a disaster.

This includes but is not limited to the people you’re working with, the manager you’d be reporting to, the daily responsibilities and demands of the position, the hours, the amount of travel required, the type of customers you would be working with, the amount of cold calling or business development activities required, the actual product or service you would be selling, future career opportunities, even the company’s position and reputation in the marketplace.

Employers: Be On the Lookout for These Questions to Best Assess Your Candidates

If you’re the interviewer, be mindful of these questions as well, for a couple of reasons. First, if you’re anticipating being asked these questions, you can best prepare an intelligent, concise response for each one. Second, if I was interviewing someone for a position and they didn’t ask me many of the questions I’ve listed below, they would automatically be disqualified as a candidate. Reason being, the questions that a candidate would ask demonstrates the time, care, importance and attention they are putting into this process to ensure that it’s a win-win for all.

Below, I’ve shared over 60 questions broken down into three distinct categories that anyone who’s interviewing for their next job needs to consider asking their potential employer in order to position yourself as someone who cares enough to ensure alignment and whether you’re a good fit for the job, rather than someone who appears desperate to get any job they can.

It’s one thing to narrow down the industry or profession you want to work within. However, every company has its own unique culture, product and service, methodology and most important, leadership style. While all the questions listed here may not be applicable for you, since many of the questions are focused around the type of job you’re vying for, choose the ones you feel are most aligned with the position you’re trying to secure, along with the questions that provide you with the non-negotiable intel you need in order to assess whether or not this job is for you.

Realize that you won’t be able to ask all of these questions, especially during the very first interview and note that these questions are not listed in any particular order. So, take the time to pinpoint the essential questions you feel will provide you with the information and facts you need to best assess each opportunity.

Once you know the company’s interviewing process, take time to strategically map out the specific questions you would ask during each interview. Finally, when it comes to these questions, make sure that you identify the right person in the company who would be most suitable to answer certain questions, along with the appropriate number of questions to ask during each interview.

Job Specific Questions

  1. What are the specific responsibilities and expectations of this position? (What are your expectations of the person who fills this position?)
  2. What does a typical day look like? Can you please describe what a typical day/week would look like in this position? (What are the hours, activities, responsibilities, results expected, etc.)
  3. Would I have the opportunity shadow one of your salespeople (in the office, during a sales call, in the field, etc.)
  4. Who would I be reporting to? Who is my supervisor/manager? Is there anyone else I would be reporting to? (Example: A dotted line manager, cross functional team manager, etc.)
  5. If the person who is interviewing you is not going to be your direct supervisor, ask, “Will I have an opportunity to meet with the person who would be my manager?”
  6. What are your specific expectations of the people on your team?
  7. How much travel is involved?
  8. How can I make your job easier? (If the person you’re speaking to is your next potential manager or someone you would be working with.)
  9. Other than achieving certain sales targets, how else do you measure performance? (How is performance measured?)
  10. How do you define success in this position?
  11. When making a hiring decision, how much weight do you place upon social media profiles? (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
  12. What type of (sales skill, service, HR, product, leadership, etc.) training /development is provided? How frequently? (What type of ongoing training and coaching is provided? How consistent is the training that’s provided? What type of training is provided beyond product training?)
  13. What did the previous person in this position do well?
  14. Is this an open position you’re looking to fill or a new position? (Why are you hiring now?)
  15. (If replacing a prior employee) What could the prior employee have done differently to succeed in this position? (Why did they leave?)
  16. What current projects and timely initiatives are you working on now?
  17. What type of support would I have? (Example: A sales desk, customer support, account manager, inside salespeople, assistant, etc.)
  18. What are the top priorities of the company right now?
  19. Who else would I be interacting with? (Do I sell as an individual contributor, do I work with a team to sell, do I work with cross functional teams, peers, managers, etc.) What teams will I be working with? How will I be engaging with them? How often?
  20. How are your leads/prospects generated?
  21. How much prospecting/cold calling is involved?
  22. Would I be managing an existing client base/book of business? (Would I be assigned a specific territory to manage?)
  23. Can you please walk me through your typical sales cycle? (How long is your sales cycle? )
  24. What type of sales strategy and methodology do you train your salespeople on? (Do you have a defined sales methodology?)
  25. Who else would I need to collaborate with throughout the sales process? (Other than me, who else would I be working with when engaging with customers and prospects?)
  26. When it comes to selling to your customers, who are the decision makers, influencers and advocates I would need to align with who take part in the decision making process? (What is the process that your customers typically go through when making a purchasing decision?)
  27. Can I talk with some of the people on your team? (Tip: Try to speak not just to the top performer but the mid performer and low performer as well, to best assess what makes people successful in this position/company.)
  28. What skill set and ideal characteristics do you look for that would make someone successful in this position? (What skill set do you feel is most important in this position?)
  29. What kind of experience do you find contributes to the level of success in this position?
  30. How does one typically advance in this company?
  31. Is there a mentoring program offered?
  32. What is the average tenure of a salesperson in this position? What is the natural next step people take after working in this role?
  33. What CRM do you use?
  34. Once hired, can you walk me through your onboarding process?
  35. How soon after being hired do you expect a new salesperson to start performing?
  36. How do you generally reward top performers?
  37. What’s the compensation package for this position? (Base, commission, bonus, benefits, etc.) (Be careful when to ask this question. Do not ask this question early on during the interview process. Typically, this is something that the employer would bring up at the appropriate time.)
  38. How do you see someone in this position advance over the next 3-5 years? Where do you see me advancing within the organization over the next 3, 5, 10 years?
  39. What is a typical career trajectory for someone starting out in this position? What are the growth opportunities available within the company?

General Company Questions

  1. What is your typical interviewing process?
  2. What factors, skills and characteristics do you consider most important when assessing each candidate that would determine whether or not they’re a fit?
  3. What can I expect during the interviewing process?
  4. How can I deliver the most value to the company in this position?
  5. What would make me the candidate of choice for this position?
  6. What is the overall company vision and mission statement?
  7. What are your short term and long term goals of the company?
  8. What are the short and long term goals that you want to accomplish on your team?
  9. What type of growth do you expect over the next few years?
  10. What is your current market share?
  11. How would you describe the culture of the company?
  12. Where do you see the greatest opportunities are for improvement within the company?
  13. Where will the company experience the most growth over the next 2-3 years?
  14. What makes you the industry leader?
  15. How do you plan on maintaining your competitive edge within this industry?
  16. How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
  17. Who are your biggest competitors? Why?

Questions Around Leadership/Management Style and Philosophy

  1. How would you describe your management style?
  2. How long have you been in this position?
  3. How long have you worked here? What was your first position when you started here?
  4. How consistent and effective is the management team regarding the coaching and development of their people? (Is there a coaching methodology that’s been adopted within management? Are managers trained on how to coach effectively?)
  5. What’s the most important responsibility you have regarding your position?
  6. Why do you love to work here?
  7. What percentage of the salespeople are hitting or exceeding their sales targets?

Photo Credit: ollyy