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Aligning Yourself with a Company Through Interview Questions

If you listen to job seekers and the questions they have, one question you will hear quite a bit is “What questions should I ask when given the opportunity to?” When in an interview, asking questions gives you the chance to find out information that is specifically important to you and can give you a greater view of the company, position, dept. structure, etc.

So what should you ask in an interview? This varies from person to person depending on what you are looking for in your next role and what is important to you. Candidates who favor a strong work-life balance may ask different questions than candidates who favor being able to make the most amount of money possible. Asking the right questions during your interview process should give you an idea if what you are looking for matches what the company is looking for. Several examples of possible questions to ask that will help you get more out of the interview are below.

“What are the steps to get decision approvals in this type of position?” This gives greater insight to the way a company and department works as opposed to asking “Who all does this position interact with?” or “How is the department set up?” Asking a more specific question will typically force the interviewer to give concrete examples of the structure that is in place, the approvals that are needed, and can show the type of hurdles or obstacles you may face if you stepped into the role. Small and large companies have completely different processes and it is good to know what to expect when transitioning from one to the other.

“What do you and the team typically do for lunch?” and/or “How does the team interact both here in the office and outside of the office?” Everyone wants to know how a company’s culture is and many people will ask “How is the culture there?” This gives the interviewer the chance to really say anything. “Oh it is great and we work when we want to and everyone gets along” is a typical answer to this type of question despite the fact that everyone on the team despises each other and they have Survival style voted the last 10 employees out of the company in the previous two months. The first set of questions is another more specific set of questions that require specific answers. An answer of everyone sits at their desk and eats lunch gives you a different idea of culture than an answer that some tend to go out and eat, others bring their own lunch and sit outside, and there are some who go home each day for lunch. The second question also calls for a more specific answer and allows you to see if the position is one that requires work to be taken home versus one that work ends when you walk out the door.

“If someone steps into this role and is successful, what would possible next steps be for them in a career with your company?” This is a very narrow question that forces the interviewer to think back to previous experiences and to tell the options that a successful employee could expect. This also doesn’t allow for the type of tiptoeing you may hear if you were to ask “Does your company promote from within?”

The goal to any question you ask during your interview process should be to get as specific and honest an answer as possible. The more vague your question, the more likely it will be that the answer you are given is vague as well. Be sure to have questions prepared and to make sure your questions are geared towards your interest. While these questions may not give you the exact answer you are looking for, they should give you insight to how a company operates and if their interests align with yours.

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