Interviewing Tip #5 – Asking Questions

In my previous post I described who should be talking during the interview.  Remember that during the face-to-face interview you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.  So absolutely have a list of questions that you would like to get answered.  Your list of questions can be as long as it needs to be.  If you are interviewing with multiple company representatives, then split the list based on the most appropriate person to direct the question to.  And some of your questions possibly should be directed at multiple interviewers to compare their responses later.  Also, be very mindful of the fact that your questions also tell a lot about you.  So don’t blow them.  Don’t ask a shallow question whose answer is front and center on the website homepage.  This will just show that you didn’t dig very deep with your research.  Instead, ask a question that digs deeper into the strategy of the company or industry.  Or ask a question that demonstrates you’re looking to develop your career, not just find a job.  Here are some ideas:

  • Ask the hiring manager how they would describe their management style.  One way to ask the question is “How would your employees describe your management style?”  You can also go a step further by asking what their employees like best about working for them.
  • Ask how your interviewer would describe the culture of the company
  • Ask a question about the impact of a competitor’s recent announcement
  • If the company is private (not publicly traded), try to find out if revenue has been growing and if the company has yet reached profitability
  • When I’m interviewing candidates, I like to get questions about career paths or opportunities for more responsibility in the future because it shows ambition and shows the candidate is looking for a career-building opportunity rather than just a paycheck
  • Ask how success will be measured for the role
  • Ask what the biggest challenges your hiring manager’s team (or the department he/she is a part of) is currently facing and how the role your interviewing for can help the most towards those challenges
  • Ask what your hiring manager likes the most about the company and how much longer they can see themselves working for the company
  • Ask if the company has any basic beliefs or principals that it operates by and uses to make difficult decision.  As a follow up, you could ask for any recent examples that come to mind.
  • Ask if the interviewer has any concerns about you as a candidate for the position and mention that if they do you’d like a moment to address it.  As long as you’re diplomatic in the way you ask this question, you’ll be fine.

Finally, don’t ask questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no.  Instead, ask what are called open-ended questions.  These questions might start off with “Can you describe ….”, “How does the company go about …”, or “What methods does the company use …”.

See the rest of my series on Interviewing Tips here.   I also have a related series for Resume Writing and one for Job Hunting.

Author: Gordon Daugherty

Gordon Daugherty is a best-selling author, seasoned business executive, entrepreneur, startup advisor and investor. He has made more than 200 investments in early-stage companies and has been involved with raising more than $80 million in growth and venture capital. From his 28-year career in high tech, Gordon has both an IPO and a $200-million acquisition exit under his belt. Now, as co-founder and president of Austin’s Capital Factory and as author of the book “Startup Success”, Gordon spends 100 percent of his time educating, advising, and investing in startups.

One thought on “Interviewing Tip #5 – Asking Questions”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: