When you sit down with a hiring manager, you have the chance to gain real insight into the company you are interviewing with.
When you sit down with a hiring manager, you have the chance to gain real insight into the company you are interviewing with. What are their values? Does their attitude to work-life balance match your own? Are the current employees happy and will you be entering a positive work environment?
To ensure your prospective workplace is a good fit, you need to ask the right questions. Their answers, including what isn’t said, can reveal a lot about the opportunity.
Questions to ask your hiring manager
What do you like about this company?
Take note of how the hiring manager answers this question. If they hesitate, for instance, this could reveal a degree of discontent. If they are swift in their response, take this as a good sign. Any mention of support, the people (“I love my colleagues”) or overarching attitudes (“they are always ahead of the curve”) are very good signs.
What can I do in my first 30 days that will make the biggest impact on the team?
Not only does this question reflect very positively on you as a candidate, but it will reveal any hurdles the company might be experiencing. This is an opportunity for you to assess whether you have the skills, experience or adaptability to rectify the issue and be a value-add to the company. If you feel comfortable that you can make a positive impact, asking this question will quickly turn into an opportunity for you to talk about how you were a problem-solver in a similar situation in the past.
How will you measure my success in the role?
A must so that you have clear KPIs established at the outset. Matching your expectations early lessens the likelihood of disappointment on both sides. If you would prefer a collaborative approach to setting KPIs, it’s also an opportunity for you to suggest how you or your previous company measured success in the past and why it worked for you.
Is this role new or was it previously filled?
If the role is newly established, ask why. This will likely point to an area of growth in the company and key business goals for the year ahead. If the role was previously filled, their response will indicate whether the ex-employee departed on positive or negative terms.
What did the last person in the role do well? What did the last person do poorly?
It’s tempting to enquire why the person left, but this needs to be handled delicately and could be viewed as overstepping. Instead, make enquires that allow you to align yourself with the wins of the last persons or explain how you will overcome one of the challenges they experienced.
What is one thing I could change in the role tomorrow that would help you?
This is another one of those questions to ask your hiring manager that will frame you as a problem-solver and swift action-taker. It is also a question that will clearly identify the needs of the business and how you will be spending the early days in your new role. Does that match the job description listed and your own career goals?
What are the business goals in the next six months and how can I help you get there?
The goals of the business will show you their focus for the next months and possibly years. These goals will also give you an inkling of possible career opportunities that may be available to you should you accept the position. If they are investing in new software or technology, this is an opportunity to acquire a new skill. If they are investing in a new industry or department, this might be an opportunity to make a lateral move down the line. Similarly, if their goals are modest, you might enjoy a steady flow of work and weekly routine over the next months.