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22 Questions To Ask Hiring Managers (and HR) in a Job Interview

22 Questions To Ask Hiring Managers (and HR) in a Job Interview

“Do you have any questions for me?” We’ve all been on the receiving end of that question in an interview.

Ask the right ones and you’ll make a strong impression. Otherwise, you risk blending in with the other applicants.Free Kit: Everything You Need for Your Job Search

Discover some valuable questions that will make hiring managers’ and HR professionals’ ears perk up. Try them at your next interview and see how the conversation shifts in your favor.

Questions to Ask the Hiring Manager During Job Interviews

top questions to ask interviewer

1. How does this role contribute to larger company goals?

It’s not terribly difficult to find a candidate who can execute in a role. It is, however, terribly difficult to find a candidate who can also understand how it fits into larger goals.

This includes being able to self-manage, prioritize high-value activities, and grow their role in a direction that aligns with the company’s growth.

How It Helps You

This information can be hard to come by if your company isn’t very communicative or transparent, so this is a good chance to get that information to use it to guide your decisions if you land the role.

2. What do the most successful new hires do in their first month here?

This question shows that you’re the type of person who likes to hit the ground running.

It also shows that you recognize patterns of success and want to replicate only the most effective performers.

How It Helps You

Every company has its weird nuances, its own environment, and its own unspoken expectations. This helps you start with a little bit of the insider info so you don’t suffer a case of “if I knew then what I knew now” in six months.

3. What metrics would you use to measure success in this role?

Asking a question like this shows that you’re goal-oriented and aren’t afraid to be held accountable for those goals. You don’t avoid accountability, you welcome it.

How It Helps You

It’s shocking how many people don’t actually know what they want from their employees beyond a vague idea of some work that needs to get done.

Asking this question will force a hiring manager to figure it out – and then can communicate it to you, so you can execute on it.

4. What are some of the challenges or roadblocks I might come up against in this role?

A question like this indicates that you’re already envisioning yourself in the role and thinking through a plan of attack, should you land the gig.

It’s also a sign that you’re well aware that no job comes free of roadblocks. It signals that not only are you not afraid to deal with those challenges, but you’re also prepared for them.

How It Helps You

The response you receive should help you better understand some of the less-than-ideal aspects of the job – bureaucratic processes, internal politics, and so on.

You can use that information to decide if you’re up for the challenge.

5. What is the biggest challenge the team has faced in the past year?

While the interviewer might be trying to paint a pretty perfect picture of what working on the team might look like, asking this question will help you uncover some of the realities the team has been facing recently.

If you end up joining, you’ll inevitably hear about these challenges – and you may have to help solve them, too.

How It Helps You

It really helps to know what challenges you could find yourself or your team up against ahead of time. In some cases, it could affect whether you accept the role.

Learning about these challenges could give you some great insights into the steps the team has taken to overcome these challenges already.

6. Why did you decide to work at this company?

This question gives an interviewer a chance to do two self-serving things: talk about themselves and perform a no-holds-barred sales pitch on the company.

For promising candidates, the sales opportunity is welcomed. And most people love any excuse to talk about themselves.

How It Helps You

This gives you insight into what motivates your future colleague or manager, as well as what the company offers its employees. If those all line up with what you’re looking for in a job, you’ve got yourself a good fit.

7. What keeps you motivated?

If your interviewer has been at the company for a while, understanding why could give you some really interesting insight into the company and its relationship with its employees.

How It Helps You

Depending on the interviewer’s answer, you might learn something about the company’s career training, leadership opportunities, workplace flexibility, internal job opportunities, and more.

You might dig a little deeper by following up with related questions, like, “What do you enjoy most about working here?”

8. Do you host any events with the team outside of work?

Does everyone keep their head down and do their own thing? Or does everyone enjoy each other’s company? This interview question serves as a great way to find out a little bit about the company culture.

Ideally, there’s a good balance of work and life and the company creates opportunities for those to blend.

How It Helps You

Along with learning about company culture, this is a more lighthearted question that might relax a stiffened atmosphere or lead to a conversation about shared interests.

9. What is your company’s customer or client service philosophy?

This is an impressive question because it shows that you can make the connection between how the company thinks about its customers and the end result.

In other words, how the customer is treated on a day-to-day basis, and in turn, how that shows up in the product.

How It Helps You

While you might be able to find a canned response to this question on the company’s website, it’ll be useful – and possibly eye-opening – for you to hear it more candidly from an employee.

10. What are some of the less tangible traits of successful people on this team?

Ever work with people who just get it? That’s who hiring managers are looking for.

This question demonstrates that you understand a job is about more than just going through the motions. Successful people have a specific frame of mind, approach, attitude, work ethic, communication style, and so on – and you want to know what that mix looks like at this company.

How It Helps You

Because these characteristics are often hard to pin down, this question forces a hiring manager to articulate that “it” factor they’re really looking for – even if it wasn’t written in the job description.

11. What behaviors do the most successful members of the team exhibit?

Asking a question like this shows you’re interested in getting a practical example of what success looks like to the manager of the team you’d be joining.

Plus, when you phrase the question in this way, “you leave no room for a hypothetical answer,” says Dave Fernandez, a former recruiting team lead at HubSpot. Instead, you’re pushing the hiring manager to think about their top performer.

How It Helps You

Because this question forces an example, the answer to this question will give you a strong idea of what success actually looks like. That way, you’ll learn what it takes to impress your colleagues and be a star candidate.

12. What behaviors do the people who struggle most on the team exhibit?

Follow up question #9 with this question, and you’ll show the hiring manager that you’re really trying to get a concrete idea of what to do and what not to do as an employee on the specific team you’re applying to join, says Fernandez.

While this question can make a manager uncomfortable, it’s impressive because it shows that you’re not afraid to ask tough questions.

How It Helps You

First, you’ll get an idea of what poor performance looks like, which will help you set expectations for the position.

Second, you’ll learn how the hiring manager handles a tough question like this – which can teach you something about how office politics are handled in general.

13. How do you deliver negative feedback?

If you would be working with the person interviewing you, this is another tough question that can give you some insight into how the team works.

It pushes the hiring manager to think about how they would handle an uneasy situation, while at the same time highlighting your self-awareness.

How It Helps You

Everything gives and receives feedback differently. Does this person tailor their feedback approach depending on whom they’re giving it to? Do they make feedback a two-way street?

Their feedback style – especially when it comes to negative feedback – will help you understand how well you would be able to work with them.

14. Do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications?

This question shows that you’re not afraid of critical feedback – in fact, you welcome it.

Interviewers tend to make note of red flags to discuss with a colleague following the interview, whether it be something on your resume or something you said

. This question gives them the green light to ask about any of the things that are holding them back from being 100% on board with hiring you.

How It Helps You

You get a chance to address concerns face-to-face without being too confrontational. This could be the difference between an offer and a rejection – or maybe even a higher opening offer.

Before you meet the person you’d be working for, you’ll likely meet a member of HR via a phone screening.

Although this initial phone call is a standard first step for most organizations today, it’s also an opportunity for HR to take notes on you as a candidate and relay those notes to the hiring manager.

Make a good impression on HR – it matters more than you think.

Here are some appropriate questions to ask at this initial stage of the recruitment process so you can put your best foot forward.

1. What do you like most about working here?

This question can be a breath of fresh air to HR reps who primarily answer questions about benefits (which are valuable questions).

Asking an HR employee what they like about the company tells them you care about the company’s culture and that you care about the opinion of someone whom you might not work with directly.

In other words, talking to people like people is always a good idea.

2. How has this position changed over time?

It’s easy to forget that someone might have once held the position you’re applying for – or, more importantly, that the role might have evolved since it came on your radar.

Don’t be afraid to ask HR what this job looked like before you were interested in it. This can include what the responsibilities looked like, how many other people currently hold this position at the company, and even where HR thinks it’s going in the future.

Getting HR’s perspective on the history of your potential role can give you unbiased insight into your department, and let HR know that you’re interested in your future at the company – not just your present.

3. What does this team’s role hierarchy look like? How does this position fit into it?

This is another big-picture question that HR should be equipped and eager to answer for you.

You might not want to bluntly ask “who would I report to?” It can show resistance or insecurity before you ever set foot in the role. But, it’s still something you might want to know.

4. How does the company promote diversity and inclusion?

Every company should always be working toward building a diverse and inclusive work environment. If they don’t, that’s something you should know ahead of time.

Asking this question will tell you which initiatives or programs the company is involved in and what active measures they’re taking toward this mission.

5. What are you most excited about in this company’s future?

Want to inject a little positivity into your phone call with HR? Ask them what has them pumped up right now.

What motivates them to get up in the morning? Put yourself in HR’s shoes: Wouldn’t you love to answer this question, especially if you love the company you work for?

Asking the HR rep what they’re most excited about shows them that you, too, thrive on enthusiasm. It also brings the best out in your interviewer – a good headspace for HR to be in as they hand you off to the hiring manager.

6. What is something the company is still working on getting right?

As a flip-side to the question above, also consider asking HR what they think the company’s greatest challenge is right now.

While other candidates might be skittish around a business’s weaknesses, this question shows HR you’re willing to accept the current negatives and join them in righting the ship.

Note the phrasing of this question, too. By asking HR this question precisely this way, you put focus on the positive and show the company that you have natural optimism (a desired trait in future leaders, just so you know).

7. Is there a dress code I should abide by?

Dress code can be a touchy subject in interviews – you don’t want to reveal that you have deal-breakers so early into a hiring process. But, it is an important aspect of the job for many professionals.

If you want to get an idea of the company’s dress code without suggesting it’s a big deal to you, simply ask HR what you’re expected to wear on your first day. It’s a harmless question that gives you the information you need at the same time.

8. Is there anything about my application that makes you doubt my qualifications right now?

Cap off your phone screening with this confidence play. Asking HR what they’re skeptical about with respect to your application can show them you welcome feedback and you can take criticism. It also helps you better prepare for your next interview.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Nov. 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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