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  • Lisa Dubino

Interview questions


Q: Have I answered all your questions?

Before you begin asking your questions, find out if there's anything they'd like you to elaborate on. You can do this by saying something like: "Yes, I do have a few questions for you — but before I get into those, I am wondering if I've sufficiently answered all of your questions. Would you like me to explain anything further or give any examples?"

Not only will they appreciate the offer, but it may be a good chance for you to gauge how well you're doing, says Bill York, an executive recruiter with over 30 years of experience and the founder of the executive search firm Tudor Lewis.

If they say, "No, you answered all of my questions very well," then this may tell you you're in good shape. If they respond with, "Actually, could you tell me more about X?" or "Would you be able to clarify what you meant when you said Y?" this is your chance for a redo.

Q: Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?

Hoover recommends this question because it's a quick way to figure out whether your skills align with what the company is currently looking for. If they don't match up, then you know to walk away instead of wasting time pursuing the wrong position, she says.

Q: Who would I be reporting to? Are those three people on the same team or on different teams? What's the pecking order?

It's important to ask about the pecking order of a company in case you have several bosses, Vicky Oliver writes in her book "301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions."

If you're going to be working for several people, you need to know "the lay of the internal land," she says — or if you're going to be over several people, you probably would want to get to know them before accepting the position.

Q: How has this position evolved?

This question lets you know whether this job is a dead end or a stepping stone. Who do you consider your major competitors? How are you better? This question is not for the faint of heart, but it shows that you are already thinking about how you can help the company rise to meet some of its bigger goals, says Peter Harrison, CEO of Snagajob.

Q: Beyond the hard skills required to successfully perform this job, what soft skills would serve the company and position best?

Knowing what skills the company thinks are important will give you more insight into its culture and management values, Hoover says, so you can evaluate whether you would fit in.

Q: How would you describe the company's culture?

Hoover says this question gives you a broad view of the corporate philosophy of a company and of whether it prioritizes employee happiness.

Q: Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?

While this question puts you in a vulnerable position, it shows that you are confident enough to openly bring up and discuss your weaknesses with your potential employer.

Q: What do you like most about working for this company?

Hoover says this question lets you "create a sense of camaraderie" with the interviewer because "interviewers, like anyone, usually like to talk about themselves and especially things they know well." Plus, this question gives you a chance to get an insider's view of the best parts about working for this company, she says.

Q: Can you give me an example of how I would collaborate with my manager?

Knowing how managers use their employees is important, so you can decide whether they are the type of boss that will let you use your strengths to help the company succeed.

Q: Can you tell me what steps need to be completed before your company can generate an offer?

"Any opportunity to learn the timeline for a hire is crucial information for you," Hoover says. Asking about an offer rather than a decision will give you a better sense of the timeline because "decision" is broad, while "offer" refers to when it's ready to hand over the contract.

Q: How would you score the company on living up to its core values? What's the one thing you're working to improve?

Harrison says this is a respectful way to ask about shortcomings within the company — which you should be aware of before joining. As a bonus, he says, it shows that you are being proactive in wanting to understand more about the internal workings before joining.

Q: What are the challenges of this position?

If the interviewer says, "There aren't any," you should proceed with caution.

Q: If you were to hire me, what might I expect in a typical day?

This shows your eagerness about the position, Harrison says, and it gives you a better idea of what the job would be like on a daily basis so you can decide whether you want to pursue it.

"A frank conversation about position expectations and responsibilities will ensure not only that this is a job you want, but also one that you have the skills to be successful in," he says.

Q: What have past employees done to succeed in this position?

The main point of this question is to get your interviewer to reveal how the company measures success.

Q: What type of employee tends to succeed here? What qualities are the most important for doing well and advancing at the firm?

This question shows the interviewer that you care about your future at the company, and it will also help you decide if you're a good fit for the position, Oliver writes. "Once the interviewer tells you what she's looking for in a candidate, picture that person in your mind's eye," she says. "She or he should look a lot like you."

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?

Becca Brown, the cofounder of the women's shoe-care company Solemates, interviewed 20 to 30 job candidates a year in her various roles at Goldman Sachs. She told Business Insider she wished candidates would have asked her this question.

"I like this question, and yet no one ever asked it because it's difficult to answer," she says. "It's an important question for anyone to be asking him or herself, and so if ever a candidate were to ask this question, it would have stood out.”

She continues: "I think this is a good question for interviewees to ask because as a candidate if you see where the person interviewing you is headed, you can decide if that trajectory is in line with your career objectives. While they don't have to be completely correlated, it's helpful for the candidate to have some indication of the interviewer's direction."

Q: Is there anyone else I need to meet with?/Is there anyone else you would like me to meet with?

Hoover says that knowing whether the company wants you to meet with potential coworkers will give you insight into how much the company values building team synergy. In additio