To make a great impression you need to prepare for your job interview, by practising your responses to common interview questions, picking out a professional outfit, and making sure you arrive on time – but don’t forget to think of some good questions to ask during an interview too!
A successful interview isn’t a one-sided interrogation – it’s a conversation. Just as your potential employer is assessing whether you’d be a good fit for the company, you should also be assessing whether the company, and the role, is right for you.
Before your interview you should already have a good idea of the company’s reputation. One excellent way to do your research is to use Glassdoor, a website that collects ratings and reviews of companies by ex-employees, letting you find out what it’s really like from people who’ve actually worked there.
However, you’ll need to add to your own research by preparing questions to ask during an interview. Experienced interviewers will be expecting you to ask good, insightful questions about the company and the role. If you haven’t thought of anything to ask, you risk looking unprepared or uninterested – neither of which is going to land you the job!
Here we take you through our recommendations for the top 5 questions to ask during an interview.
1. Why is this position being advertised?
This will let you find out whether the role is newly created, or whether the person previously in the role was promoted – excellent news for you and your future career development – or left unexpectedly. This could be bad news depending on why they left: was the workload too high? Management difficult? No possibility of career progression or promotion? A hiring manager might not directly admit to these negatives, but you should be able to read between the lines, to a certain extent.
It’s often a good sign if the position is newly created, as it may mean the company’s profits are stable or increasing, and future growth is expected.
2. How will you assess the performance of the person in this role?
It’s not only salespeople who have to meet targets at work. The truth is a lot of industries have their own KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that they use to measure performance. For example, hotel cleaning staff might have to clean X number of rooms per hour, while customer service phone operators may have to score an 80% positive rating or higher on post-call customer surveys. Or, the company might want its new hire to complete a big IT project in their first three months of employment.
Asking this question shows your interviewer that you’re a conscientious person who’s focused on achieving results. It also tells you exactly what the company expects of its employees, and lets you decide up front if these expectations are reasonable.
3. What challenges do you expect the person in this role to face?
This is information you probably won’t see on most job ads. Perhaps there’s a difficult personality that you’ll have to work closely with, or layers and layers of bureaucracy which means getting anything approved is a real hassle. The company might expect you to use outdated technologies because there’s no extra budget to upgrade. Whatever it is, it’s best you know about it now and judge for yourself whether you’re prepared to deal with it.
A good interviewer won’t hide this information from prospective candidates, because the last thing they’ll want to risk is their new hire quitting a few months in. Recruiting and training new staff is a costly business.
4. What are the company’s main objectives over the next year?
Asking this shows that you’re a planner and forward thinker, capable of seeing the bigger picture. Whether the company would like to open five more franchise locations or an online shopping portal, launch a new product onto the market, or expand its customer reach into a new area, you’ll be well placed to discuss how your skills and experience can help make it happen.
Conversely, if the interviewer responds vaguely or straight out doesn’t know the answer, this will tell you something about the company culture and how well management communicates with the rest of the organisation.
5. Can you describe the company culture?
This is an important one to help you figure out if you’ll be happy working there. The culture might be hyper-competitive and publicly reward ‘wins’ – quite common in a tele-sales role. Some personality types thrive in these environments, while to others it sounds like hell.
Perhaps the company encourages socialising outside of work with weekly Friday night drinks. Again, some love this type of office, but others will want to finish their work on time and go home.
You can also ask the interviewer to tell you what they like about working there: is it the benefits? The informal attire? The footy tipping competition? The easily accessible location? Whatever answers you receive, you can be sure they’ll help you make a careful and considered decision.
Need help with your job search?
At MTC we’re focused on helping people find and keep meaningful work. Are you currently unemployed or looking for a new opportunity? We can help you apply for positions, give you advice on what to wear and how to present yourself, and practice interview questions until you feel comfortable.