The job interview is a two-way street. It’s a great opportunity to figure out if the job is right for you, and whether you’d like working for the company. But when you ask the hiring manager questions about the culture or people, they may give you sugar-coated answers — especially if they’re trying to sell you on the job.
That’s why it’s so important to talk to other employees, too.
If and when you’re afforded the chance to speak with your prospective coworkers — which hiring managers should encourage in the spirit of being transparent and helping to provide insight additional perspectives — there are a few specific questions you’ll want to ask.
“It’s the best way to find out what it’s really like at this company without overstepping your boundaries and jeopardizing an otherwise perfect interview performance,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert, leadership coach, and author of “
Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant.”
Here are the questions you should ask employees at the company you’re interviewing with:
1. How long have you worked here? Can you tell me more about your role and background?
2. What do you like most about working at this company?
3. How would you describe the work environment?
4. How would you describe the work ethic?
5. What is the reporting structure like?
6. What kind of personality traits thrive the most in the department?
7. What’s the preferred communications style? Phone, email, IM, text, one-on-one meetings, meeting over lunch, Skype, etc.?
8. How much of a team approach do you experience?
9. How are accomplishments recognised?
10. How much latitude are people generally given?
11. How do department managers motivate their teams?
12. What is the commitment to professional development?
13. How much do you feel people learn on the job?
14. How would you describe the level of support offered?
15. How much feedback do team members receive?
16. Can you describe the advancement opportunities here?
17. Do people in this position have the opportunity to advance?
18. What would you hope a new hire could contribute to the department?
19. What do you think would make a person successful in my position?
20. How does management view risks?
21. When people make mistakes, how is that handled?
22. How does management view such areas as work-life balance?
23. Does the company engage in social responsibility programs?
24. How is conflict handled and resolved?
25. What would you say are some of the biggest challenges you face here?
26. If there’s one thing you could improve, what would it be?
27. What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started working here?
There are many questions you may have about the job that don’t belong in the peer interview, Taylor adds. “Don’t be tempted to ask unrelated or off-topic questions just because you forgot to ask HR or the interviewer, as it might convey as you place much importance on them. These include company policies and perks, such as vacation, or sensitive topics, like salaries, raises or bonuses, as well as personal discussions about age, religion, or the latest political polls. And while you might be wondering about their take on a big competitive threat, hold off until you’re settled in, or you may appear critical.”