So you’re looking for a new job. Good for you! It’s an exciting feeling thinking about the possibility of making more money, having more vacation days and/or moving up the career ladder just like you had always dreamed. I’ve been in interviews before where I was so excited and so nervous that I completely forgot which questions I wanted to ask and rather than just write them down, I thought they were something I had to memorize to impress a potential employer, and I am here to tell you first hand, it’s not a good idea. When I’m interviewing someone, I love when they walk in with questions written down as it shows me they cared enough about my time, and theirs, not to waste it by trying to come up with things to ask. We all know the basic questions to ask like hours, salary, benefits, etc. But what other questions should you actually be asking to ensure a company is a right fit for you? Here are my top 7 that I love to ask.
“What’s The History Of The Company and What Does The Future Look Like?”
Don’t walk into your interview having done ZERO research on the company you’re interviewing with and the position you’re interviewing for, but always ask the interviewer about the history of the company. I always like to ask this question because I get a clearer insight into the company from an insider’s perspective. Along with this question I like to ask about the future and where they foresee the company in 1, 2, 5, 10 years. I had a company tell me once that they had been in full operation for almost two years but didn’t have any clients yet. It raised some red flags so I dug in a little bit deeper to try and find out why that was the case. I eventually uncovered (with the help of outside sources too) that they weren’t very nice people and were actually in the process of being sued. I dodged a bullet by understanding the company’s history and future.
“What Is Your Retention Rate (For Employees?)”
I knew a company once whose retention rate was less than 25% in the first year. I ended up working there for two years because I actually loved that job and my boss, but during my time there I saw so many people come and go and it wasn’t until I was moved to the corporate talent acquisition team that I figured out why. They were a huge, successful, multimillion dollar company who had the money and resources to make as many hires as they wanted only and knew that about 1 out of every 15-20 people hired were going to make it past the first 6 months. The longest the majority of people usually stayed with the company was about 1-2 years. For this company, in particular, it was because it was survival of the fittest and it was kill or be killed. Some people really thrive in environments like that and some don’t. One of the biggest complaints from employees were the managers played favorites, the hours were really long, the metrics were too high and unrealistic, the pay was crappy for the work being put in and/or management didn’t care about their employees. Understanding the retention rate is a great way to judge how that company will treat you. Don’t be afraid to ask why the retention rate is so low or even better, why it’s high. History always repeats itself.
“What Are Your Expectations Of Me In The First 30/60/90 Days?”
It’s always a great idea to gain an understanding of what you’ll be walking into on your first day. You can even ask specifically what your first week is going to look like. I always like to know what software I’ll be using, how much training I’ll be receiving and what their goals are for me in the first 30/60/90 days. To me, you can never be overprepared, and I like to make sure I know as much about the position as I can just in case I need to study up on some things or analyze the position further to ensure it would be the right fit for me. If someone told me my first 90 days would be paperwork and training and sitting behind a computer all day with not much work to do, I’d have to evaluate the entire package further to make sure I wouldn’t always not have much work to do because I know me, and I get bored really easily and constantly need to be challenged. I would hate to waste my time or theirs for a position I knew I wouldn’t be happy in long-term.
Find Out Who Your Boss Would Be, How Long They’ve Been With The Company and What Their Employees Say About Them (Behind Their Backs)
Always, always, always find out as much as you can about the person you’ll be reporting to. I can’t tell you how crucial this is because even if it’s the best company with the best pay and best perks, none of that is worth it if you have a crappy boss. Feel free to ask about their background, management style, temperament under pressure and training techniques. You want to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success rather than failure. The more due diligence you do on the front end, the fewer jobs you’ll have on your resume (not to mention the happier you’ll be) which in the long run goes a long way when seeking a new position.
“How Many People Have Been In This Position? Are You Replacing Someone (or several someones) Or Is This A Brand New Position?”
This is a great question to ask because it will give you valuable insight into the company without them having to say a word about it. Always dig deeper to find out the “whys” of why they keep having to replace this position or why it’s brand new. If it’s brand new, hopefully the “why” is they’re growing. If it’s not brand new and has had 3 people previous to you in it, find out “why” they keep replacing it. Dig as deep as you can until you understand the full scope of each “why”.
“How Long Has This Search Been Open” or “How Long Have You Been Looking To Hire”?
This really piggybacks off of the above question so this is just a different way to ask the previous question in the off chance you’ll receive a different answer which helps provide even more insight.
“When Are You Looking To Make An Offer?”
Here’s a make or break question that I love asking. I’m assuming if you’re interviewing at one company, you’re interviewing at several to keep your options open so you can make the best choice based off of facts and data rather than being desperate (or nuts) and taking the first position that comes your way. You may love Company A but they may tell you they’re not looking to make an offer for the next 90 days while you also love Company B and they’re looking to make an offer in 90 minutes given the right candidate. I’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of working with some recruiters who like to keep candidates hooked on either because they don’t want to deal with rejecting the candidate, they’re lazy or they want to keep them in the pipeline in case their first candidate choice turns down the job. Either way, you’re at the company’s mercy and sometimes that can feel defeating. It’s also a good time to let a company know you’re considering several offers and if one is to be made to you, you’d like the opportunity to consider it as well. Now, I do believe timing is everything so if you’re going to play this card, make sure to do it tactfully and respectfully. Just keep in mind some companies need a little nudging and that’s ok when it’s your career in their hands.