The job interview: don’t just answer, ask!


Much has been said about what to answer to tough or typical interview questions. Most of us spend hours rehearsing answers to questions like “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” or “What makes you a good fit for this company?” But have you spent time thinking about what to ask?
Whether it’s your dream company or a backup plan, you should always equip yourself with the right questions. Beyond impressing them with your initiative and wit, it is also a great way to find out more about the position, the company culture, and the people you potentially will be working with.
Here are five questions that can help you do just that.
Aside from the job requirements mentioned, what other skills or traits would help me as an employee of this company?
You must have applied for this job because your resume and experience meet the qualifications. That’s great. But going for an interview is also the time to gauge whether your personality will work well with your potential colleagues.
Are you extremely introverted? Can you handle a company with outspoken people? Find out if this is really for you. Imagine spending most of your days in a place with people you simply can’t jive with – torture. Join a team you can work well with.
This question could also reveal possible additional work or skills needed when necessary. It is particularly crucial for startup hopefuls to know this because job descriptions are only a fraction of what’s expected of you. More often than not, extra hands will be needed for tasks outside of your responsibility on paper.
Think of the interview as a first date: make a good impression, and figure out what impression the company gives you – are you impressed?
Why is this position vacant?
This might seem like an uncomfortable question to ask, but finding out whether the person before you left because of overwork, or moved up the ranks after a promotion, gives you a glimpse of what to expect. Alternatively, the position might be open because it’s newly created, which means trial and error and a lot of expectations on your plate. Can you handle it?
What is the career path like?
You might be afraid to sound eager with this question, but if you have career ambitions, this is an answer you’d want to hear. If you are eyeing to work at a startup, you might not get the typical “after two years, you can get promoted” answer. Instead, small companies tend to be fluid with their teams. You’re either given different responsibilities, or have to wait for it to expand before being able to take on a more senior position. Whichever the answer, is that okay with you?
What is the company’s long-term goal?
Or better yet, ask about a specific timeline. Companies cannot survive without having a clear goal. It is especially critical for tech and startup companies to a have good idea of what they want to achieve, and when they expect to get there because of the limited runway they have. Do they want to be the next Google? Are you able to make a meaningful contribution to their goal? If you don’t agree with their vision, or if the answer seems vague and unconvincing, maybe this company isn’t right for you.
What do you love most about working here?
Interview managers tend to keep it black and white. Asking this question is an opportunity to connect on a deeper level, and to get a unique perspective about the company and its people. The answer will reveal how the interview manager feels about his job, whether it is a place where you can be passionate, or if it’s strictly about getting the work done. Was it a struggle for him to come up with a good answer? Trust me, it is important to love (or at least like) your place of work. If someone from recruitment can’t seem to convince you, it’s a red flag.
Always remember: you’re not just here to impress, you’re here to be impressed.
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About Natasha
Natasha is a young copywriter from the Philippines who dreams of writing a novel one day. A typical day in her life consists of puppies, naps, sports, and Netflix (Okay, fine. And work).