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What questions should you ask during an interview?

Posted on 26 July 2023

What questions should you ask during an interview?

​7-minute read

Job interviews can be daunting, even to the most seasoned professional out there. An artificial setting where you need to impress, learn and listen at the same time. We all know that those who fully prepare ahead of time position themselves better amongst the sea of applications but with so much to focus on, it can be challenging to determine where to spend your time.

For as long as you can remember you likely have heard at the end of each interview you have had ‘what questions do you have for us’.

This question alone can evoke panic if all your pre-planned questions have been answered organically. What typically follows is an attempt to put together a sub-par response which likely will leave the wrong impression.

The aim of this article is to give focus towards what questions you can ask during an interview that goes beyond the standard asked.

To do this, we will break down the interviewing process into several key elements: culture, tech/design, team and meet + greet. We will explore what questions can be asked within each element to help forge stronger connections that will make lasting impression.

Remember, each company will have their own interview process that might incorporate a few of these elements into one meeting. Where possible, ahead of any interview look to understand what will be covered so you know which questions to bring forward.

With that, let’s explore the different elements.

 

Culture Interview

The culture interview will either happen at the beginning of the interview process or at the very end. Although there is a specific meeting to focus on culture, it is also something the company will explore throughout every conversation you have but paying particular attention to it usually during the HR interview.

The trick for this interview is to be yourself.

During this meeting, you want to focus your questions on the representative the business has put forward to discuss their culture. This will normally be someone from the human resources team, a recruiter, HR Manager, People and Culture lead etc.

Throughout the meeting, the individual will cover the company’s core values, company culture and background.

To stand out in this meeting we want to generate questions that respond back to what is covered whilst digging deeper into the individual we are speaking with to build rapport, create a connection and generate responses to questions they won’t give up freely.

See some examples below to understand what we mean:

·       Where do you think there are gaps in the company’s culture and why?

·       Why has the business chosen these values to be the most important for them?

·       Why did you join the organisation?

·       What specifically do you like about the business since joining?

·       How would you personally describe the company culture from what you have experienced?

 

Tech/Design Interview

This step can come in a variety of forms from a take-home assignment with a follow-up review through to a deep discussion in person/online. In essence, it is a skills-based conversation.

As with the previous step, we need to build rapport but for the sake of this article, we will cover how you can do this with the team next. Here we want to direct questions towards processes, structure and core skills required for you to succeed within the role.

Consider preparing questions that will make the interviewer pause to answer thus remembering you later.

Consider asking questions like these:

·       What’s the workflow from planning to finished task?

·       Tell me about a technical problem in the current roadmap.

·       If you could inject a skill that would drastically improve the team, what would that look like?

·       What are the biggest challenges you see with the current tech stack / design process?

 

Team Interview

Often the team meeting is mixed with the tech/design interview. Although they might be together, the questions you ask will be different hence the separation in this article. The team interview be geared towards understanding if your style and personality gel with the team and vice versa.

To determine from their side the company will ask open questions, typically behavioural based to understand how you tackle challenges, communicate with colleagues and share knowledge.

To make a lasting impression here, direct questions that are purposely crafted to create connections. Questions that will be more personal than general will not only help generate rapport but will also give you a window into what the team is really like in the eyes of the interviewer.

They could look like this:

·       How does inter-team communication work and are there specific tools that you utilise?

·       Who sets the schedule of work for the team?

·       How has your career grown within the team since joining?

·       What is the biggest thing you have learnt so far from the team?

·       If someone identifies areas for improvement, what happens?

·       Could you tell me about a toxic situation and how the company dealt with it?

 

Meet and Greet Interview

The final step that could take place is a meet and greet with members of the team and the wider organisation. This doesn’t always take place and when it does it could be a simple open forum discussion, a sit-down lunch or more formal setting with other members in a different department.

By now you should have seen a pattern across all these meetings, the focus towards rapport building. This final step is no different. If you have made it to this stage, there is a strong chance that you are technically skilled and the team have a positive impression, therefore the aim of a meet and greet is to finalise impressions.

The company will do this again by asking behavioural-based questions, they might repeat areas that have already been covered to check for consistency in answers (this also might be a sign of something they are looking for clarification on).

Your aim is to ask any questions you personally need in order to make a decision about the business, due to this there is no specific flow of questions we can offer, but rather advice to not leave the final meeting without having everything answered or at least put forward to the right person should your interviewing partner not know the answer.

 

Throughout an interview process the questions you ask will differ depending on who you are speaking with, their role and the length of service they have within the business.

A leader who has been with the company for multiple years can answer more specific questions whereas someone who has been there for only a few short months might struggle.

Knowing this, ahead of each meeting review who you are speaking with to bring forward the right questions at that time.

 

Do not underestimate the importance of asking questions. It will not only help create more interest around your application as someone who is thought-provoking but it also gives you a lot more information for good and bad around how the individuals of the company view the role, team and business.

This will help you determine if the opening is truly right for you or not.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what could be asked but it is a good start to get you thinking about expanding your question library and have you make the right impression in every interview when it comes to this topic.

Feel free to share with your network if you believe someone could benefit from learning more about what questions to bring forward in their next interview and let's collectively simplify the chaos of recruitment.

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