The job interview is a two-way street.
You should be assessing the employer just as much as they’re assessing you, because you both need to walk away convinced that the job would be a great fit … and the evaluation should start from the moment you take the hot seat.
At the very end of the interview, the hiring manager usually asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” But don’t wait until they turn the tables to start asking questions.
Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,” says that there are a few you should ask at the very beginning of the conversation.
Here are four of them, along with her reasons for asking these early on:
1. ‘How did this position develop?’
This is a good conversation starter on your end, says Taylor:
“It demonstrates intellectual curiosity, yet isn’t intrusive or brash. It’s also helpful to let the hiring manager talk, as you gather some history on the position. You’ll get some insight on whether the opening is due to turnover or growth, for example.”
2. ‘How does this role fit into the larger objectives of the department and company?’
Try to ascertain the big picture in the early stages of the interview, suggests Taylor.
“This will help you better frame your answers in a way that’s more meaningful. It’s easier to sell your skills when you can relate them to the company’s larger strategy,” she says.
3. ‘What do you like most about working here?’
This is a friendly, nonthreatening question that works early on because it’s conversational, and you’re showing interest in the interviewer.
“It can also be received as flattering, but at the same time, you’re getting to know the hiring manager.
“Are they thrilled about mentoring their staff, their product or service, the innovative atmosphere? Do they focus on only growth numbers and minimizing expenses, with no mention of the team, training, or growth opportunities? It gives you a sneak preview into your prospective manager’s priorities and all-important personality. This is where it pays to have your people radar up, to evaluate if this is a boss you can respect.”
4. ‘Can you describe some of the specific responsibilities or describe a typical day?’
You want to show you did your homework, so right after asking this, you might consider saying something like, “For example, I know that some of the core functions are A, B and C, but perhaps you can elaborate?”
“This is your opportunity to drill down on specific job objectives and tasks, beyond what you were given prior to the interview,” says Taylor. “At the same time, you want to make it clear that you fully understand what was in the job listing or description. That’s why you want to touch on a few examples before turning over the question to the interviewer.”
Offer a framework so the hiring manager understands your interpretation of the job, and can formulate an appropriate answer.