Updated on August 4th, 2018 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Question 1 of 30
How do you feel I stand out from your other candidates?
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By asking this question, you are trying to find out the areas that the interviewer finds you to be the most impressive. If the interviewer tells you where you best stand out, you can use this information as positive leverage in your future interviews.
The interviewer will most likely not mention any details about the other candidates, but they should let you know a few positives stand-outs in your application.
Perhaps you are the strongest in a particular software program, or maybe your energetic personality makes you a great candidate. Whatever the interviewer's reply, be sure to thank them for the positive feedback.
Are there any expectations related to overnight travel or eventual relocation?
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Travel and eventual relocation are topics often included in the job posting, but they are not always. These topics are more relevant to specific job functions such as sales, business development, client management, or leadership positions.
If these topics remain unmentioned in the job posting, you can say: "Could you share with me if there is daytime or overnight travel in this role? Also, I know that your headquarters are in Texas. Will there be the potential need for relocation at any point?"
"Could you share with me if there is daytime or overnight travel in this role? Also, I know that your headquarters are in Texas. Will there be the potential need for relocation at any point?"
This question is a simple one, meant to be asked in early stage interviews, only when you do not know who oversees the day-to-day activities of this role.
It is common to report to more than one person. Once you are told whom you will be reporting to, be sure to go on LinkedIn and study their profiles and past career. This information will be helpful to you in your future interviews.
If the interviewer is not yet sure who you will be reporting to, this is an indication of internal restructuring. If this is the case, you need to dig deeper and ask more questions about the way the office or department is set up.
Which tools and resources would be provided to me, to ensure my success?
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Tools and resources to ensure your success can range from technical provisions to events and educational opportunities. What you are looking for with this particular question is evidence that the company will invest in you and guarantee a positive experience for both parties.
An interviewer should be able to give you at least one to two examples of ways they invest in the success of their employees. Some tools that are available to employers are:
- Personality Assessments. These comprehensive assessments, such as Gallup, will show your employer how you are motivated, the learning methods you best respond to, and the leadership styles you prefer.
- Expert Management. When junior, inexperienced people are placed in leadership positions without training, nobody wins. The interviewer should be able to assure you that those you are reporting to are experts in their realm.
- Individual Development Plans. These plans are roadmaps for employees, created in collaboration with their leader. The strategies focus on timed goals that are measurable. Most IDP's are visited quarterly, like a performance review.
- Clear Metrics. If you have clear targets and expectations, you are more likely to succeed in your role. If an employer lets you roam, hoping or guessing that your performance is satisfactory, you are more likely to become disengaged and quit.
- Constructive Feedback. Having a manager who will give you on point, in the moment feedback, is incredibly valuable to any employee. Your responsibility then is to make sure you can accept all feedback graciously while also implementing necessary change immediately.
- Organizational Structure. The less hierarchical the organization, the more likely you will be to succeed. When a company is built flat, you will have better access to your leaders and other departments, allowing you to expand skills outside of your immediate job function.
You can also let the interviewer know which tools and resources you would love to see in your next role. Let them know how to best guide you, and you will undoubtedly set yourself up for success.
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"What kind of technical and educational help would be provided to me to succeed in this field?"
Rachelle Enns' Professional Opinion:
This is a great question to ask!
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6. How do you encourage continued learning opportunities and professional development? It's crucial for your career growth that you join a company who will put energy and resources into your professional development. Nobody wants to remain stagnant in one role for a lifetime!
The interviewer should be able to give you specific examples of initiatives the company takes when it comes to employee investment. Some common ways that companies will develop their team:
- Cross- training across departments.
- Creation of 1 year and 5-year plans for you to visit with leadership regularly
- Tuition reimbursement programs
- Experiences such as trade shows, conferences, or client meetings
- Regular feedback meetings and performance reviews
- Gifts of leadership and business books
- Learning portals for self-guided online coursework
-Team-building activities and training events
- Supporting individual volunteer efforts or providing volunteer opportunities
As you can see - it is effortless for a company to find ways to invest in their employee's growth and happiness. If the company you are interviewing with does not offer any of these types of experiences, you may wish to reconsider jumping on board. Here is an answer example: 7. Which programs do you use to manage workflow and communication? Your objective is to gain specific names of the software programs and applications most used in this role.
Some companies may include this information in the job posting. If this information is provided to you already, you could say: "I see in the job posting that you are looking for a candidate skilled in PowerPoint and various SAP modules. Could you share with me any other programs or applications that you use for managing workflow and client communication?"
If you have experience in programs such as Slack, Basecamp, Trello, etc.; be sure to mention those. A best case scenario is for the interviewer to give you the names of all programs and apps used in the role so that you can begin to learn them on your own time, shortening your training and onboarding time once hired. This type of initiative is rare and will make you a more competitive candidate. Here is an answer example: "I see in the job posting that you are looking for a candidate skilled in PowerPoint and various SAP modules. Could you share with me any other programs or applications that you use for managing workflow and client communication?"8. How can I begin to prepare myself for success in this position? By Here is an answer example: 9. How would you measure my success in this role? Will your future employer set your goals and targets from past data and results, or pull out unachievable numbers from thin air, expecting you to reach them?
This question is especially important to ask if you are interviewing for a sales-based role, or if you will be working in a leadership function.
If the interviewer is unable to give specific examples of how your success is measured, you should ask to see past blind reports from others in the role before accepting a position. How your performance is measured and communicated, is enough to make or break you in your new job which is why you should be adamant when it comes to pursuing this information! Here is an answer example: 10. How often do you have performance reviews, or offer feedback to your employees? Before joining a company, you want to know that you will receive appropriate guidance and feedback from them during your tenure. Receiving regular reviews will only benefit you as you grow in your career because you will be able to see where you can improve and immediately pivot, readjusting your actions and leading you straight to success!
Look for an employer that offers performance reviews at least twice per year. In roles where optimum performance is directly attached to your compensation, quarterly reports are more common.
You will also want to ask about the quality of the reviews. Are they informal check-ins, or formal meetings with your leadership team? The nature of these meetings should be important to you because the more seriously your leaders take your growth, the faster you will advance in your career. Here is an answer example: 11. How do you set clear goals and targets for your employees? An employer who can set clear expectations is the best kind of employer to have. You want to work for a company that can give you direction. When you have goals to work towards, you will be able to measure your success better and become a high performer.
Ask the interviewer about specific goals and targets. Avoid accepting a general answer. If an employer is unable to tell you precisely what their objectives are, this is a big red flag because they are likely just trying to find a warm body to put in a seat. This behavior is an indicator that you would not be joining a team of high performers.
Try to get examples of specific numbers, actions, and rewards they use in the workplace. This example could include your daily targets, examples of fun contests they may have in the office, and other ways they measure success and recognize accomplishments. Here is an answer example: 12. What is the most critical function in this position? Most job descriptions have a long list of responsibilities, must-haves, and nice-to-haves. When you ask the interviewer a question such as this one, you are asking them to narrow down what the most important function is in this role.
Once the interviewer gives you the reply, you will better be able to target your answers to that one critical function, or need. For instance, if you are applying to a marketing director position and the interviewer tells you that the most vital purpose in the role is to ensure that all projects move along at a smooth pace, then you know that project management is the most critical part. You can continue your interview focusing on your project management experience, or even your PM education. Also, you now have a solid idea of what you will be spending the bulk of your time on if hired. Here is an answer example: 13. What are the next steps in your interview process? For you to perform at your peak during your interviews, it's best if you know what to expect when it comes to the interview process. Knowing what is happening next, will help you to assess the preparation and research you will need to succeed in these meetings.
The interviewer should be able to give you an overview of who you will be meeting with, along with the estimated timeline between each of these interviews. Some organizations will have just one meeting, and some may have as many as 5+ interviews with different team members. This situation will all depend on the level of position for which you are interviewing.
If the process seems far too drawn out to fit in within your ideal timeline, you can say something like this: "Thank you for explaining the interview process to me. By my calculations, we would be in the final stages of interviewing in the next six weeks. I am seeking a role as soon as possible, so if I can accommodate dates closer together, I am happy to give you the flexibility you need to make that happen." Here is an answer example: "Thank you for explaining the interview process to me. By my calculations, we would be in the final stages of interviewing in the next six weeks. I am seeking a role as soon as possible, so if I can accommodate dates closer together, I am happy to give you the flexibility you need to make that happen."14. Is there anything about my background that I can further clarify for you? When you ask the interviewer a question like this, you are removing some of their opportunity to reject you for reasons that may not be clear or even accurate.
As a candidate, it is easy to unintentionally breeze over parts of your background and work history that may be more important than you thought.
The interviewer, if they are unclear on parts of your background, will then have the chance to back up and ask you for further clarification. You should ask this question in every single interview as it is incredibly useful! Here is an answer example: 15. Is there any reason why you feel I would not be a good fit for this position? Any time you are asking a question this targeted, there will be a risk of hearing something that you don't want to hear. Be sure that you are prepared to accept feedback on your application, your qualifications, or even your interviewing skills.
By asking this question, you are asking the interviewer to identify where your application is weak so that you have the opportunity to correct your reply or give a more precise answer on that particular subject.
Be sure to thank the interviewer for their feedback and then take some time to overcome their objection. For instance, if the interviewer says they feel that your Excel skills are not strong enough, you could say: "Thank you for that feedback. I am perhaps more humble in regards to my Excel skills than I should have been. I am currently ranked as an Intermediate user but will be enrolling in a three-week online program immediately to raise my skills to be Expert level." Here is an answer example: "Thank you for that feedback. I am perhaps more humble in regards to my Excel skills than I should have been. I am currently ranked as an Intermediate user but will be enrolling in a three-week online program immediately to raise my skills to be Expert level."16. How would you describe the company culture? Finding the right 'fit' for yourself is just as important as the interviewer finding the right 'fit' for themselves. Although you may urgently need a new position, it's always best to take a deeper dive into the company to ensure they are going to offer you the workplace environment that you need.
Here are the most common types of company cultures, and an example of what to look for:
1. Leadership Driven: This type of company will invest in their leaders, and will offer you coaching and mentorship opportunities. They will also put a focus on developing you as a leader in your role whether that be through empowerment, growth opportunities, or giving you a team of your own to lead, down the road.
2. Mission Driven: A company that is mission-driven will hire employees based on how passionate they are for their cause. This type of organization is often more of a collaborative environment and can be in faith-based kinds of companies, or startups. Be aware that sometimes boundaries can be forgotten in a mission-driven environment as the leadership team will often act as though the mission is more important than anything else.
3. Customer Driven: Many companies have the "customer is always right" attitude. This attitude can be excellent but make sure to ask questions related to how they empower their employees in a time of customer-related conflict. You want to ensure that your company will stand behind you when needed, while also supporting a customer-centric environment. There needs to be a healthy balance.
4. Target Driven: Companies that are sales, or target driven tend to attach everything their employees do, to a destination, number, or goal. You will most likely enjoy this type of workplace culture if you are a competitive personality. If you are not competitive, you should ask more questions regarding how your performance and successes are measured in this role. Also, do a deeper dive into how you would be rewarded for successes and what happens when targets are not met.
You may find that the company you are interviewing with has a mix of all of these, which will usually be the case. Digging into employee review sites will be an excellent resource for you so that you can find out what past and current employees think about the workplace culture. Here is an answer example: "customer is always right"17. Could you explain to me the typical career path of someone in this role? It's important to know, before accepting any job offer, what the typical career trajectory looks like for others who have come before you.
You want to hear the interviewer tell you success stories such as the person in this role before you were transferred to lead their team! Or, perhaps the person who started in this role four years ago is now managing the entire department, and you will be working side by side with them.
If the interviewer cannot openly express to you that this role will amount to further opportunities, you should consider this a red flag. Promotions aren't the only way for there to be additional opportunities, either. Career growth could include further educational opportunities, an upgraded office, relocation to a bigger city, and more. Here is an answer example: 18. What has been the company's most significant innovation this year? You have already familiarized yourself with the position, and the basics of the company, but have you performed a deep dive into the company's recent accomplishments or accolades? It's great to know a bit about the organizations' innovations and awards before going into your interview.
Show the interviewer that you are aware of what their company has been doing in the past 12-18 months but then ask a follow-up question to gain more 'insider information' so to speak.
For instance, you could say: "I see that your company was recently nominated for the 'Top 100 Companies to work for in Denver.' Could you share with me another significant moment in your company's history this past year?"
An interviewer is almost always thrilled to talk about their company's happenings and achievements. Here is an answer example: "I see that your company was recently nominated for the 'Top 100 Companies to work for in Denver.' Could you share with me another significant moment in your company's history this past year?"19. What is this company's biggest struggle right now? When you understand the pain points of the company, you will always perform better in your interview. The reasoning is because you will more easily draw a correlation between your skills, and what the company needs. If you don't understand the most significant issues that the company is facing, how can you possibly be the best asset for them?
The interviewer may give you an answer such as growing pains, a recent merger, or customer acquisition. Take their response and dig, asking more thoughtful questions such as, 'Which lead generation methods have you used in the past 12 months to attract more customers?'
This timing may not be right to offer up suggestions, but this is an excellent time for you to add a comment regarding your value. For instance, 'I worked for a lead generation and prospecting company for three years and would be happy to teach your team all the tricks-of-the-trade that I acquired during that time.'
By doing this, you are adding immense value to yourself which is something most candidates would not branch out to do - making you successfully stand apart. Here is an answer example: 20. Who are your top competitors, and how do you stand apart? You should already know a bit about the company's top competitors, from the research you conducted before your interview. Let the interviewer know that you believe company A, B, and C to be the most obvious competitors, and then express that you would like to learn more.
The information that you are looking for will focus on how the company feels internally, with the way they compete in their marketplace. Perhaps it is their exceptional level of customer service or a much superior product offering.
Whatever the answer may be, look for pride and excitement on the interviewers' behalf. Also, the more you learn from asking this question, the more information you will have in your toolbox for future interviews. Here is an answer example: 21. What is the most exciting goal for this company in the next year? As a potential new hire, you will naturally be interested in the targets and goals of the interviewing company. In addition to your research, be sure to ask the interviewer what they are currently working on, and what is the most exciting innovation, product, service, or upcoming change facing the company over the next while.
The more the interviewer divulges, regarding their company's short-term goals, the better you can draw the correlation between your experience and their goals.
This question can be a great conversation piece. As the interviewer offers their answer be sure to ask more in-depth questions for further understanding, and how enthusiasm for the work they are doing! Here is an answer example: 22. Is this a replacement search, or a newly created position? This question is one of the most critical inquiries you can have before starting a new position. It is vital that you understand what happened to the previous person in this role so that any negative history does not repeat itself.
If this is a replacement search, the interviewer may not freely divulge the information as to why the last person did not work out. If they were relocated or promoted, that would be the best possible scenario. If they were terminated, you should be given an idea as to why this person failed in the role so that you can be set up for optimum success, fully understanding the expectations set out before you.
If this is a newly created position, you will want to dig further to ensure that this role is well laid-out with evident training, a stable career path, strong potential growth, and precise targets. Here is an answer example: 23. Can you share with me a bit about the training schedule and process? It is vital for you to have a solid understanding of the onboarding process and the goals and expectations related to your training.
You should find out how long the training process takes so that you know when you'll be fully onboard. You should also find out who will be training you and what that experience will entail. Perhaps you will be job shadowing someone senior to you, maybe there will be classroom training in a group setting, or you might even travel to another city where the company's headquarters are.
The more details you receive, the better prepared you will be for your first day! Here is an answer example: 24. What would you like to see from me in the first 30 days? This question is particularly helpful for a role with a leadership component or a sales based opportunity. Depending on the position you can also ask the interviewer what they would like to see from you in your first 60 - 90 days on the job.
It's an excellent idea for you to come to your interview with a plan to show. This initiative will help the interviewer to see that you are engaged and excited about this opportunity.
An interviewer will likely give you an overview of the training schedule, and the expectations related to your preparation for this role. You can dig further to ask questions regarding the specific goals and quotas that you will be expected to meet in your first one to three months.
Be aware if the interviewer does not have specific goals to share. This response could be an indication of disorganization within the company or a highly unstructured training and onboarding process. Here is an answer example: 25. In your opinion, how can I best succeed in this role? This question is an excellent inquiry because it forces the interviewer out of a standard response and makes them take a good hard look at your skill set, how it matches with the job requirements, and then comment on any areas where you may need to strengthen your abilities.
The interviewer should respond with suggestions such as programs to study up on, related articles to read, or ways to further research their industry or client base.
The interviewer could also give you insight on how to best work with the personalities who would be present in your new department or let you know a bit more about the person to whom you would be reporting.
By asking this question, you are allowing the interviewer to picture you in the role already, while also showing enthusiasm for your success within their company. Here is an answer example: 26. What does an average day look like, in this role? It's essential, before accepting any job offer, for you to have an idea of what an average day will look like for you, in this position. You will, of course, be aware of the general responsibilities involved in this role, but this particular question is asking the interviewer to dig a bit deeper.
Here are some of the things you will want to find out:
- Who will be working closest to you
- Who you will be reporting to
- What types of clients you will be meeting
- What your deadlines will be
- Which software systems are used in this job
- What your office will look like
Be sure, before accepting any offer, that you can honestly picture yourself in this role. If you are not 100% convinced, it is okay, in most cases, to ask for a half day job-shadow to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day activities. Here is an answer example: 27. Could you share with me the average employee tenure in this role, and in your company as a whole? Numbers such as employee turnover, and average tenure, are stats that every employer should have committed to memory. Employee turnover is costly and can significantly damage an organization financially and in ways related to their reputation.
If you ask the interviewer about employee tenure, and they do not know- this is a red flag. Any company with low turnover will be proud to tell you so. Beware if you don't hear the interviewer proudly say, 'We haven't lost an employee in (X) months!'
Another way to find out about employee tenure is to go to LinkedIn and search for employees of the company and select 'Past Employees' in your search criteria. If you see many people who have remained with the company for a short time (under one year is a good benchmark), then you may want to re-think jumping on board. Here is an answer example: 28. What is your ideal timeline for this hiring decision? When you are interviewing with multiple companies, it can be tricky to get the timing right with interviews, offers, and acceptance. Juggling three interviewers who are all moving at a different pace can be chaotic.
Asking the interviewer about their ideal timeline when it comes to putting out an offer of employment will tell you a few things.
1. You will see the company's urgency. A company who wants to find a fit for the role quickly will be on the ball and will have times already set aside for the next interview phase. This preparedness is a great sign and a company that will likely be a good choice for anyone to join. However; you want to make sure they aren't skipping steps in the process to get a warm body in the seat. If they are moving quickly but still vetting you correctly, this is a good sign. If they are not vetting you accurately then beware, they may not be investing in you as an employee and rather, deciding a state of panic.
2. You will see how interested the company is in you as a candidate. If they genuinely think you could be a great fit, the interviewer will ask you what your timeline is in return. They will want to know how much time they have before another company makes an offer and scoops you up!
3. You will see how well-organized the company is (or is not!). If the interviewer doesn't know the hiring timeline, or cannot tell you what the next steps are in their interview process, this is a potential red flag.
4. You will be able to see how hierarchical the organization is. Does your interviewer seem empowered to make a decision when they see fit or do they need to consult with a million other people before making a final decision? You will want to avoid joining a rigid and hierarchical company. Here is an answer example: 29. What is the most important quality to possess in this role? By asking this question, your goal should be to find out what quality the interviewer values most for this position, assess whether you possess this quality, and then speak further about how you will meet this need.
Let's say, for instance, the interviewer says that the most important quality to possess in this role is reliability. You can then begin to speak about how you have been reliable in the past, or with your most recent employer. Perhaps you stayed late when necessary, checked your emails after hours when you knew a client would be responding, or maybe you would bring coffee for the team when they were working late on a project.
If the quality that the interviewer mentions are something you are not overly versed in, you can speak about how you are strengthening that area. For instance, if the essential quality is to be amazing in Excel, you could let the interviewer know that you are an intermediate user and that you are taking additional coursework this month to make sure you are in the expert level realm by the end of the year.
Whatever the interviewers' response, the key is to support further how you will bring this vital quality to the company, should you be the successful candidate. Here is an answer example: 30. What is your favorite part of working here? You will find out a few things when asking the interviewer what they like best about working for this employer.
One, you will learn just how passionate (or not) the person interviewing with you is about their job. If they have a contagious enthusiasm after working at this company for many years, you can be confident in knowing that this is an excellent company to join.
Two, you will learn about this person who you may work for, and what makes them tick. Are they open to communicate with you what they love about their job? Or, are they closed off and shut down your question after only engaging with you briefly?
The way the interviewer answers this question should excite you and make you want to work for them. If their response is lackluster, you may want to take a more in-depth look at their employees' happiness levels. Here is an answer example:
Author of Ask the Interviewer Answers and Questions
Rachelle Enns is a job search expert, executive headhunter, career catalyst, and interview coach. Utilized by top talent from Fortune companies like Microsoft, General Electric, and Nestle, she helps professionals position themselves in today's competitive digital marketplace.
Rachelle founded Renovate My Resume and Executive Resume Solutions, two companies focused on helping job seekers get their edge back. She helps everyone from new graduates looking for their first placement, to CEO's who want more out of their career.
Rachelle coaches students to executives on how to master the toughest interview questions and how to handle the most bizarre interview situations; all with confidence and poise.
Rachelle trains other career coaches, recruiters, and resume writers, globally. A big part of her job is also spent coaching HR professionals on how to bring the human touch back into their interview and hiring process.
First written on: 08/02/2018 Last modified on: 08/04/2018
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