You’ve proofread your cover letter, attached your files, and submitted your application. You’ve waited (somewhat) patiently for the human resources powers that be to recognize your virtues as a candidate for this position. Your phone rings with an unknown number in the right area code, and bam! You’ve got an interview for the job of your dreams.
It can be tempting to spend all the time preparing for the interview anticipating the questions you’ll be asked and crafting responses that shed the most compelling light on your skill set, experience, enthusiasm, and personality. But remember that the interview is as much about your evaluation of your potential employer as it is about her getting to know you.
When considering a new job, there’s a lot more to keep in mind than whether you can effectively complete the tasks expected of you. In order for you to be happy in your new role in the long term, it’s important to understand what your life will look like both in and out of the office.
Typically, when the interviewer has finished her round of questions, she’ll ask you if you have anything you’d like to ask. This is a golden opportunity both to understand whether the position is, in fact, the best fit for you and to set yourself apart from the other candidates. Use these three expert-recommended questions to help you figure out if the job is right for you.
01. “What is the employee who used to work in this position doing now?”
Perhaps the previous employee has been promoted or moved vertically to another company, which can help you measure the possibility for growth. Maybe the previous employee left for a personal reason, a move out of state, for example, or a decision be home with a child. If that’s the case, you might also ask how long employees tend to stay in this role or how many people have held the role in the last five years. Consistent turnover may be a red flag that something about the management’s expectations is difficult to handle.
If the job is a brand-new position, make sure to ask about the expectations in the first week, first month, and first year, as well as how success in those time frames will be measured.
02. “How would you describe the management style?”
In advance of asking this question, reflect on whether you thrive with greater freedom or more specific direction. Mollie Moric, career advisor and hiring manager at ResumeGenius, says that regardless of your role, “it is important to understand how management styles may impact your personal performance.”
How often do you expect to check in with your colleagues on shared projects? When and how will you be looking for feedback on your performance? Setting realistic expectations from the start is key to long-term success.
03. “Do you mind showing me around the office before we conclude the interview?”
ResumeGo co-founder Peter Yang says that in the many interviews he’s conducted, this question was rarely asked—but always had a positive impact. It “gives applicants a chance to get a feel for the company's work environment and office culture” in a tangible way, he says. And because hiring managers spend most of their days behind a desk, it also “breaks [them] out of their standard routines, which can make their experience with you more memorable and unique in their minds.”
If you’ve done your research, you knew the company’s mission, values, and goals before you submitted the application. Now, as you conclude the interview with a handshake and a thank you, the last question you should ask yourself is whether the position really is the right one for you. If it is, don’t be too shy to say so. If it isn’t, use what you’ve learned to recalibrate your search—and don’t give up hope that there’s a great job out there for you.