In an earlier article, I asked for what interview questions you wanted me to help answer. In the comments was this one: “What questions do you have for me?”
It’s a good and common one asked in many interview situations where the hiring manager has done what needs doing and is now turning it over to you to ask questions.
The beauty of this question? It’s totally open-ended leaving you lots of choices — and many pitfalls if not handled correctly. Let’s get into this one.
This may be obvious, but take it to heart: too many people don’t have questions for the hiring manager at the end of the interview. This is almost fatal in the hiring process; it tells the hiring manager – who knows one can’t explain everything about the job in an hour – that you haven’t done any research on the company or department.
Or, you don’t care.
The other risk on this is asking questions that have little to do about the job, but instead, questions about pay, benefits or vacation time. Wrong approach to take; the purpose of the face-to-face interview is to get a job offer. That’s the time to ask questions about all those topics.
By the time you get through the interview gauntlet to a face to face interview, your job skills are pretty much a given – you can do the job.
While the hiring manager should have spent about 3/4 of the time figuring out if you would fit in with the manager and the team, that’s not always the case. Sometimes hiring managers are still looking at your job skills because that’s the only area they know about how to ask questions.
But compatibility goes both ways: the manager and team have to think you will fit in AND you need to feel you can fit into the management style and the team dynamics.
These, then, are the two areas you should focus your questions on during the interview.
You need to know how your manager will manage you and if that fits in with your best way of working. If you can’t stand working for a micro manager and you determine your hiring manager is a micro manager, why would you take the job knowing you’ll hate working for the manager?
But people do that craziness all the time because they don’t ask questions to figure out the management style.
“Tell me about a time you had to give tough news to one of your employees about their performance. How did you handle that?” Turn about is fair play, after all…
Any time there is an addition to the team, the team dynamic changes. Is this team desperate to get you on the team? Why? What kinds of conflict exist on the team (there is always conflict; if your hiring manager says there isn’t, your potential manager doesn’t get it…)?
Does the team collaborate, all work on the same projects, different projects…what?
You need to determine if how the team operates integrates with your best way of working. Otherwise, you’ll have a difficult time fitting in and your performance (peer pressure still works…) will suffer.
Pundits spend so much time trying to get you to a job offer that they forget people need to get back to enjoying their work. That starts with working with a manager that fits your needs. It continues with the team that balances your weaknesses with your strengths.
Yes, it is great to get the job, but you will only start to get satisfaction from the work if the rest of the pieces fall into place. Use your question time to find out if the fit is really there.
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 CubeRules.com, a site devoted to Career Advice for knowledge workers, whom he calls Cubicle Warriors.