As a candidate, you have access to an incredible amount of data and advice from “specialist” on what to ask, what not to ask and when during the interview process to ask it; moreover, how to frame questions that make them sound professional and are designed to get the information you need; without offending the future employer. I always leave these decisions on what to ask and when to each candidate. You have the best feel for each situation and what matches your career expectations, so do what you feel is right.
I would, however, like to suggest a few topics that will help you decide if the company and role is a good fit. After all, the interview process is an opportunity for the company and the candidate to determine if there is a good match. Too many times, companies have the attitude of the final decision maker. I don’t want to give you a list of specific questions as no one question can fit every situation. In my opinion, you should try to find out as much as you can about the place you are going to commit your time and energy.
It is assumed if you are interviewing, your experience and skills match the position requirements. As a result, I will focus on two other important areas: Is it a good fit culturally and if you meet the expectations set by the company, how and when will you be rewarded.
Most of the time, you will be able to instinctively know if a company’s environment and employees match your personality type and interests. Do the people you meet seem happy? Are they passionate about the company’s products or services? Are you greeted with enthusiasm from the receptionist all the way to people you interact with on the day. Are they excited when explaining the opportunities to you? Are they genuinely happy? If you can feel the passion from hiring managers and team members, it should be an interesting and dynamic place to work. If not, red flag! Many people overlook the cultural fit and over time, they become unhappy or dissatisfied.
After thousands of placements made, the ones I see that are most successful are the interviews that lay out exactly what the expectation for the role are; and most importantly, what you can expect in rewards (compensation, promotion, etc.) if you meet or exceed them. Make sure you clearly understand your role, what is expected of you and how the environment is set up so that you can succeed. Using the job description and details provided by interviewers, ask what type of person succeeds in this role, how is the role/company/group structured to ensure requirements are met, etc. If you know exactly what is expected of you from day one, you can focus your energy on your work. If your job requirements are vague or if the hiring managers are unsure, red flag!
Remember, the interview process is an incredible opportunity for you to explain your skills and experience. It also is an incredible opportunity for you to confirm if the company is a good fit culturally and that you will be rewarded by exceeding clearly laid out job requirements.
So, ask away!