3 hard interview questions to ask the hiring manager

By Scot Herrick | Job Search

Feb 03

Part of the interviewing process is asking questions of the hiring manager. While there are hundreds of questions out there, I’m oriented to ensuring you will fit well with the manager’s management style and reduce your layoff risk of taking a job. Your manager has the most significant impact on your career and no company is yet safe from a layoff.

To that end, here are the questions:

When there is conflict between team members, what do you do?

Conflict is good in a team — but not too much. If all that happens is people screaming at each other, nothing much gets done and it isn’t fun to be at work. Good conflict comes with the ability to see the other side, understand the issues and coming to a conclusion that works.

A manager needs to manage conflict on the team in a way that moves the team’s goals forward. How the manager does that shows a lot about management style — and whether it matches your temperament for a working style of your own.

What are the departments top 3 accomplishments in the last 3 months and why?

Too many questioners ask this and the time frame is over the last year. I’m of the opinion that you need to be producing results right now, not something from eleven months ago. “What have you done for me lately” has never been more important than right now in the business environment.

You need to figure out if what is said is really an accomplishment — it is finished — or just a lot of work in progress. Work in progress is nice, but it is not a result. If the department isn’t producing accomplishments, why would management want to keep it around?

As well, you need to settle on whether or not the accomplishment with the accompanying business benefit is really significant enough to warrant the work done in the department. Did the department save the company through the revenue it produced? That’s big. Did the department run the monthly “employee of the month” this last time? Not so much.

What happened to the last two people who had this job?

All sorts of answers can come forth here — got promoted(!), left the company or decided to “pursue other business interests” (read: fired). Whatever the answer, you have the opportunity to ask a follow-up question to clarify the answer. If the person left to go to another company, why don’t you ask, “what did that person find lacking in this company that would cause that person to leave?”

That would be an enlightening answer, don’t you think?

You need to sense the company environment

Your job is not just about your skills, but also how well you integrate with the manager and the team. Without that integration, you’ll find it tough to stay motivated to produce the results needed to really excel in your work.

Great managers won’t find these questions hard to answer. Poor ones will be all over the map.

What other great questions have you asked the hiring manager about the work?


About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations. In 2005, Scot started sharing these hard lessons at, a site devoted to Career Advice for knowledge workers, whom he calls Cubicle Warriors.

(13) comments

Add Your Reply