3 Questions Interviewees Must Ask or Risk Doom—After Getting the Job!

Job interviews are the beginning. It’s the moment when we begin our relationship with a future boss. 

We tend to look at the hiring process like a game show. We’re picked as contestants, and if we answer the questions correctly, we win the prize. 

The game show winner takes his/her winnings and goes home. When you get the job, however, you’re expected to report to work every day, take direction, complete assignments, and work well with others. Then you get your weekly prize—your paycheck. 

The problem 

We often forget, however, that getting the job means accepting all that goes with it: 

By the time the interview is over, the company knows way more about you as a prospective employee, than you know about the company, particularly your prospective boss. 

Your manager is the most important variable in any new job. The wrong boss can seriously wound your spirit, opportunity, and future. 

S/he sets you up to succeed or fail, based on the leadership style used and the work culture perpetuated. You need to get a line on the hiring manager, so you know whether you should say “yes” to the job, if offered. 

The big 3 

In an interview, there should be time at the end when the interviewer asks, “Now do you have any questions for me.” That’s your moment.  

When it’s your turn to ask your questions in the interview, commit to getting the information you need about the environment you’d be entering. 

Asking these 3 questions, your way, will demonstrate your interest in understanding the manager’s expectations. At the same time they’ll reveal what you may actually be getting into: 

  1. When this position is filled, what will be the immediate expectations of employees, coworkers, other departments, and/or the senior leadership?  

The manager’s answer will give you insights into the political climate, the pressures on him/her, whether or not s/he’ll have your back, and the likelihood that you can succeed  

  1. How would you describe the current culture/work style of your work group/the company? 

If the description is uncertain, vague, or hopefully clear, you’ll know if your future boss gets it about his/her employees and their importance to success. That’s the fold you’d be joining.

  1. What will be the biggest challenge for the new hire? 

Now you’ll know what you’d need to deliver right away. If the answer is measurable/observable, you’ll be on solid ground. If it’s general, abstract, and conceptual, that’s a red flag.  

Together these questions reveal the leadership qualities of your prospective boss:

  • Command and control or collaborative style
  • Strategic or reactionary
  • Micro-managing or delegating
  • Politically savvy or naïve
  • Clear or vague communicator
  • Self- or employee-centered 

Together his/her answers reveal the work environment in front of you. 

Protect yourself 

Getting a job is a big deal: Getting the wrong job even bigger. To build a strong resume, we need to demonstrate that our job decisions have worked out. 

You don’t want to get fired for poor performance or asked to resign. You want a work experience that is satisfying, helps you grow, and builds a positive track record. 

That’s why you need to look out for yourself, conducting your own due diligence about who you’ll be working for. Bosses are people with every kind of personality, leadership/management approach, and expectations. 

It’s up to us to be just as careful about whom we pick to work for as the hiring manager is in offering us their coveted job. 

Please don’t be careless about your career. The right questions may save you a lot of future heartache. 

 Photo from Marco Bellucci via Flickr