7 Questions a Great Candidate Asks

Adapted from an article by Kazim Ladimeji

At the end of the interview when you, the interviewer, ask the candidate, “Do you have any questions for us?” it’s often hard to know what to ask. Should you ask a couple of superficial questions just to be polite, or should you ask deep, probing questions?

If a candidate appears to be simply going through the motions at this point, this is often a sign to the hiring authority the candidate is not fully engaged with the company and/or the hiring process. So, what questions should you as a more engaged candidate ask?

Below, are seven interview questions that great candidates should ask to show they are engaged in the hiring process:

1.    Why did the previous job holder leave?

You should want to know the fate of the former job holder, that is, was he or she fired, promoted, or did the person resign. Of course, if the former job holder was promoted, that is a good thing because it shows career progression potential in the company. If the worker resigned amicably to broaden his or her horizon, that is also okay. If it was an aggravated resignation or dismissal you might want to probe a little deeper and figure out if this is a company you want to work for.

2.    What are the training and development opportunities?

One of the main reasons that people leave businesses is due to a lack of career progression. Training and development improves your skills and increases your chances of career progression; so, if you are not just looking for employment ask about training and development opportunities. Also ask how you will be able to access the training. If training budgets are small, ask how or if,  the business uses coaching, mentoring, experiential learning, stretch assignments and job rotation to train staff.

3. What is the career progression potential at your business?

A top candidate will want to progress, so ask where internal roles are advertised and how they are filled. Ask about example employees who have started low and progressed through the business to really demonstrate your interest in a career with the company. 

4. What is the company culture at the business?

Too many times candidates accept a job without knowing the culture, just to find out after being hired that they are not a good fit.  Job satisfaction is dependent on fitting into the culture of the company. Don’t be afraid to ask where the hiring authority sees a need for improvement in the culture, you may find that the area you find most comfortable is the one he/she wants to change. For example: The culture has a laid back atmosphere and a casual dress code and that appeals to you but management may be thinking of changing to a more formal dress code knowing that can help you decide if you fit into the culture of the company.

5. What is your personal management style? (when interviewed by your potential supervisor)

Studies show that one of the main reasons that employees leave and fail to meet their performance goals is a lack of communication with their direct supervisor. A good candidates knows the importance of being able to communicate with their immediate supervisor. Listen closely and decide whether you can take direction from this individual. If something seems off, then you should take that as a red flag and seriously consider whether this is the right fit.

6. Where will this company be in five years?

The best candidates will be interested in the company and its future. As well as what their role in that future is. Candidates should be aware of the strategy for continuing operations. Candidates should have researched the company and be able to ask specific questions about products, services, and the competition.

7. How do your employees wind down?

All employees who work hard and smart know that they need time to wind down to sustain performance and health over the long term. You don’t want to give the impression of supporting a workaholic environment, so, of course, explain how you value employee health and talk about your wellness programs and commitment to work-life balance