“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. Before you commit, ask these questions of a potential new boss.
What is the history of this job? And if there was a person in this role, what happened to create a vacancy now? If this is a new role for the company, what’s the story for the need for the new position? Did you have internal candidates apply?
There are a few reasons for asking questions regarding the history of a position. If there was a person in the role and they were promoted, that’s a good sign there’s advancement opportunity. Likewise, if the person was terminated or quit and this seems to be a pattern with the role, it provides you with the opportunity to ask questions to find out what was and wasn’t working for the employer in the last hire or people who held the role, and if there is any concern regarding workplace culture.
In addition, if someone internally was passed over for the role and you walk in as the new hire, there may be hard feelings which could create an awkward work situation. 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.
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?
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 establishes unrealistic expectations that can lead to burn-out.
What are some of the major trends or events going on in the organization in recent months and over the that past year 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?
Maybe they are launching a new product, had a massive round of layoffs and are rebuilding (in which case, why were there layoffs?), or are getting ready to sell. In any case, 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 before you accept any offer that may come.
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. For more great interview tips, be sure to check out our Interview Insider articles & tags.