Interviews have certain choreography. Give and take. This balance is based on free will and our right to move our labor around wherever it best benefits us and our families. Both you and the company have the responsibility to understand what you are getting into.
So we dance, revealing important bits when it suits either party. An interview reveals important information in response to questions asked by either party. If the relationship is to succeed, then both parties need to believe the proposed interaction will be beneficial.
Questions keep the choreography moving. Asking good questions is critical.
Good questions give you more information about what it is like to work at a company. You want to know about the people, the work ethic, the boss, expectations, business prospects, opportunity for advancement, community involvement, and tools, systems, and processes used in the job. You want to ask questions that yield information you can use to make a decision about whether you will fit and enjoy working at that company and with those people.
To make this dance work, you must be curious. You need to understand yourself and what will make you happy in your next job. Write down what you want to know so you can pull out questions when it is your turn to ask. Ask each company and each interviewer the same questions so you can compare answers. Are there themes? Are the responses consistent? Then you can ask yourself whether this is a company you want to work at.
Here are five really good questions to ask any potential employer:
- Why did the last person leave this job? Can I talk to him/her?
- What kinds of people are successful in this company and in this job?
- What is the business plan for the next five years? Has the business met its business plans in the last five years?
- What are goals and expectations in this job and department? Are they realistic? How do you measure results?
- What drives this company? Related question: what element of the business is primary? Sales, marketing, technology, manufacturing? How does this priority impact your function?
By being curious you can think of questions to ask to understand what is really going on in that company so you can decide whether the company is a good match for your skills, interests, and goals.