Before you commit: Questions to ask your next boss

“Do you have any questions for me?”

Those 7 words can strike fear into the hearts of many job-seekers, and it shouldn’t. This is YOUR opportunity to get to know the person who could be your next boss. There’s a lot you can unearth from the right questions which can greatly aide you in your search, and help you avoid any potentially hazardous or unhealthy career situations.

Questions:

What is the history of this job? And if there was, what happened to create a vacancy now? If this is a new role for the company, what the story for the need for the new position? Did you have internal candidates apply?

Reasoning:

The reason you want to know this is if someone else internally was passed over and you walk in, you can best bet there will be hard feelings. Nobody likes to think so, but 9 times out of 10, there is. Starting off on the wrong foot by default with someone because you took the job “they should have got” is NOT a good place to be in.

 Questions:

What makes up the average workday here? How does everyone decide when it’s time to go home? What are the “norms” for working evenings and weekends, responding to emails, voice mails, and the like during after work hours?

Reasoning:

Fact of the matter is this: some companies will expect you to be on 24×7, but will only pay you for a salary based on 40 to 50 hours a week. If you’re not hourly, you could end up working more than you’re actually being paid too! Great for the employer, not so great for you. While we understand the need to have a great work ethic, setting the bar too high sets unrealistic expectations and can lead to burn-out real quick.

Questions:

What are some of the major trends or events going on in the organization in recent months and over the that past year and this, that will shape the rest of this year and next? What do you envision coming to the forefront in the next 6 months that may impact the person hired for this role?

Reasoning:

Maybe they are launching a new product, maybe they had a massive round of layoffs and are rebuilding (in which case, why were there layoffs?), or maybe the are getting ready to sell. Either way, whatever information you can garner here is invaluable. It will help you to get an idea of the lay of the land before you walk into any potential landmines. Layoffs might mean they are running lean and everyone will be expected to take on more, a new product launch might mean you’ll be jumping onto a moving train (can you keep up?) there are many things to think through.

In closing…

While this isn’t a comprehensive list, it is a start that can help you think through and build a list of questions to take with you to your next interview and help you gain a better understanding of your next employer before you commit.