There are countless articles offering advice about the best questions to ask in a job interview. As we know, having a job based on compatibility of culture, skill and personality can lead not only to a more productive, satisfying work life, and happier life overall. So, let’s focus on the most important interview questions you can ask to find out just how compatible you would be in a prospective job.
Being in a company whose culture you are in alignment with greatly increases the likelihood of your success and happiness in a job. Here are a few questions to ask to see how much your core work values and goals line up with those of the company you’re interviewing with.
- Does your company have a formal mission statement? If so – what is it?
Knowing upfront what a company’s mission statement, and therefore key values and goals are, is the starting point in determining your compatibility with its culture. If you are on board with those values, great! If not, it gives you something to strongly consider as you decide whether or not to move forward in the interview process.
Please note that you should only ask this question if you have searched extensively to find the company’s mission statement and haven’t been able to. If their mission statement and company values are easily findable and out there for everyone to see, and you haven’t done your research, asking this question could backfire!
- What are the top three things this company values the most, and how do you think I could further these values?
From this, you will learn the core values of this company from an employee’s perspective (the interviewer), which is crucial information in seeing if you’re a fit; but more importantly, it will help you see how and if you would fit in with these values. Asking this question also shows your eagerness to contribute to the company in a positive way.
- In what ways would my performance and success be reviewed and measured?
Are you someone who needs to be constantly reviewed and/or reassured, or do you prefer to be left alone to meet goal markers that were put in place for you? It’s important to know what the performance review process is like to see if it is one that is effective for you. It is also important to know if your definitions of success line up with the company’s; what constitutes success to you may not be what constitutes success to your boss. An added bonus to this question is that it demonstrates your interest in doing what it takes to be successful at the job.
- Are there opportunities for advancement or further professional training?
Are you looking for a career path, or just a steady job to pay the bills while you pursue a dream or finish school? If it is important to you to continue growing on a certain career path and to continually better yourself and learn more, then this question is crucial to ask. It is also a terrific positioning question, indicating to the interviewer that you are interested in, and serious about, both growing with the company and wanting to be the best at your job.
- How would you describe the work environment here—is it team work/collaborative, or more independent?
Are you a loner, or do you thrive off of collaboration? Having this information lets you know if the way they work there is conducive to your productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency.
To help determine whether you have compatible skills and experience needed to excel in the position, here are some questions you can ask.
- Was the person who previously held this position successful in it? Why or why not?
If the person who previously had this position was successful, it is good to find out if your skills and experience are compatible with theirs. Conversely, if they were not able to be productive in the position, do you feel confident that you can be more effective in the position because you have the skills they lacked?
- Where is that person now? (ask this tactfully, of course!)
This seemingly straightforward question will actually do two things. First, it will tell you whether or not they are no longer at this position because they lacked the right skills (which ties back to the previous question). But, secondly, it will answer a culture question for you. By finding out whether that person was promoted, retired, asked to leave, or voluntarily left and/or moved on, it will provide clues as to whether there are opportunities for advancement and growth at this company, and whether or not the employees there are happy.
Having a compatible personality with the manager you’ll be working with is critical to your happiness and productivity in a job. Here are two questions you can ask during an interview to get a sense of whether or not your personalities will mesh:
- What are the qualities of successful managers in this company?
Upon hearing the answer, ask yourself if these are qualities you respond well to and jive with.
- How would my manager and I be working together if I were offered the job?
Is this a democracy or a dictatorship? Will you be micro-managed or given space and freedom to work on your own? Like with knowing if the work environment is collaborative or independent, knowing how your prospective manager likes to operate is helpful in determining if it’s a situation that lends itself to your productivity or your feelings of overwhelm and stress. Knowing what you know about yourself and about your prospective manager, would you be setting yourself up to win or fail if you took this job?
There are many questions deemed important at a job interview… it seems like everyone has an opinion about it! But let’s face it – the simple questions listed above are ones which can help you avoid ending up in a job you’re miserable in. Gathering information as to your compatibility with a prospective job and company is helpful in determining not only if the job is the right fit for you and somewhere you feel you can thrive and flourish, but also can help you get the job by demonstrating to the hiring manager just how perfect of a fit you are!