From “What can I do on day one…” to “What improvements would you like to see?”, here are 14 answers to the question, “What are the best questions to ask during a job interview to figure out if the company’s a good fit?”
- What Can I Do on Day One that Will Make Your Lives Easier?
- What Behaviors Get Rewarded Here?
- Can You Elaborate on the Day-to-Day Responsibilities?
- In 90 Days, What Will Make You Say to Your Boss that I Was a Successful Hire?
- What Experience, Skills, and Personality Did the Last Few People Have that Led to Success?
- Do My Top Priorities Align With Your Company?
- How Does the C-Suite and Team Practice Your Company Values?
- What Would I Accomplish in the First Year to Do an Outstanding Job?
- What Did You Wish You Knew Before Joining the Company?
- How Do You Intend to Grow Over the Next Five Years?
- What Gap Will I Fill?
- What Are Your Expectations, and Which Pain Points Do You Want Resolved?
- What Will Be My Sphere of Influence in this Role?
- What Improvements Would You Like to See in the Next Six Months?
What Can I Do on Day One that Will Make Your Lives Easier?
I always advise asking the hiring team about what I can do on day one to make their lives easier: “I am wondering, with the value I bring to this role, what can I do on day one that will make your lives easier?”
You want to appear as a fixer, a problem solver, and a continuous improvement expert, not a clock watcher. You’re there to make the bottom-line effects needed to improve efficiency, profitability, and productivity. This question allows you to cut through the fluff and get to the heart of their pain points, which you can use to show that you are the relief and Tylenol for those pains.
What Behaviors Get Rewarded Here?
We can learn a lot about a company’s culture and values by seeing what kinds of people get raises and promotions, which are the tangible rewards that almost all workers are striving for.
Praise is a valuable verbal reward, but most people are working to earn money for their own needs and wants, so quantifiable monetary rewards are the most reliable indicators of what behaviors the company encourages.
Asking this question in a job interview will help job seekers determine, given they receive an honest answer, if they will feel comfortable in that environment. It’s also not a super common question for interviewers, so they likely won’t have a prepared answer and will be forced to think more critically and hopefully respond more candidly.
Can You Elaborate on the Day-to-Day Responsibilities?
During the interview, it’s important to understand what would be expected of you if hired. A great question to ask each person who interviews you is, “Can you elaborate on the day-to-day responsibilities this job entails?”
How they respond will not only give you a better understanding of the role, it will offer insight into what the interviewer sees as the “most important” responsibilities of the job. This will allow you to focus your answers on what “that particular” interviewer is looking for.
In 90 Days, What Will Make You Say to Your Boss that I Was a Successful Hire?
During an interview, you are trying to decode the answers you are getting from the other side. One main thing is trying to find out what your future boss is like—are you compatible?
You should ask, “In 90 days, what will make you say to your boss that I was a successful hire?” If they answer it thoughtfully and quickly, you know they are organized and know what they want. If they give vague answers or beat around the bush, you know they weren’t prepared. Whichever way they go, you get a peek behind the curtains at what type of person they are.
What Experience, Skills, and Personality Did the Last Few People Have that Led to Success?
Selecting a company to work for should be done carefully to determine if it is a good fit for you. The interview process gives you the opportunity to make an informed choice about the company that you are interviewing with.
To determine your fit, it is important to ask strategic questions. One important question to ask the interviewer is: “What experience, skills, and personality did the last few people in this position have that led to their success?”
Based on the answer to this question and other questions that you ask, you should be able to determine if this is a company that you want to work for or not.
Do My Top Priorities Align With Your Company?
In order to ensure a company is a good fit, you need to be clear on what your top two to three priorities are for a new job. For example, a working mom or dad may need a flexible work schedule, a parent-friendly environment, and a fully remote or hybrid schedule.
Example questions to ask during the job interview may be:
- Is there flexibility to leave work early in order to pick up my son/daughter from school?
- How does XYZ Company support parents?
- If an emergency arises with my child, can I work remotely or complete my work at night or on the weekends?
Candidates rarely realize they can interview a company just as much as a company interviews them.
How Does the C-Suite and Team Practice Your Company Values?
Reading about your potential “dream” company and its values on its website and blogs is one thing; finding out what they are really like in practice, and whether they “walk the talk,” is another.
The board and C-suite set culture, so it’s best to look at them in detail first. Are they a diverse group? Do they publish thought leadership that backs up their values? I advise that the best way to vet a company’s culture is to speak to previous employees, as they will usually tell you the whole truth about what it’s like on the inside.
But, in the interview, you can also ask the simple question, “How do you see the values of the company (mention them here to show you know them) playing out in practice on your team and in the C-suite?”
What Would I Accomplish in the First Year to Do an Outstanding Job?
The one question I recommend asking during a job interview to figure out if the company is a good fit would be to ask, “If you hired me for the position and we were walking down the hall one year from today and I did an outstanding job, what did I accomplish in the first year?”
This is an excellent question to ask because it allows you to hear from the hiring leader what the goals and expectations for the position are. Knowing the goals and expectations of the role will allow you to uncover the achievements the hiring leader is looking for.
You can then determine if the expectations and goals are in alignment with your career goals and strengths. This question also positions you as a forward-thinking individual, which everyone wants to hire for their teams.
What Did You Wish You Knew Before Joining the Company?
Asking this relatively uncommon question requires the interviewer to reflect on their own experience with the company, and can help you avoid generic, marketing-focused, or “canned” responses.
Pay attention to the language the interviewer uses in their response, observe their body language, and be aware of the time they took to reflect before answering. With your own best judgment, evaluate how thoughtful, useful, and insightful a response you received.
The interviewer’s response can teach us something new about the company, and it can also show how willing the interviewer is to be candid with you.
Before any interview, be sure to do your research on the company, the people it employs, and the position description for the role you’re interested in. Doing your homework will help you gain a better understanding of the company, the position requirements, and can provide you with a deeper context for the answer to your question.
How Do You Intend to Grow Over the Next Five Years?
Inform the interviewer that you are aware of the company’s products/services and are eager to hear about their future developments. Ensure that you ask the interviewer how the firm intends to grow over the next five years. It shows to the interviewer that you are seeking a long-term commitment to the firm, along with your curiosity and interest in the company’s evolution.
What Gap Will I Fill?
“What skills or areas of expertise are you hoping to add to the team with this new hire?” This question helps uncover a couple of things: what the baseline need for the role is and how you can fill in the gap.
Asking this question shows the interviewer that you are interested in understanding the bigger picture and how your role fits into the overall goals of the team. It can also give you insight into the potential growth opportunities within the team and the company.
This question will also help you better understand how the company thinks about every new hire they make and whether they treat them as unique, valued contributors or just another seat to be filled.
What Are Your Expectations, and Which Pain Points Do You Want Resolved?
“My biggest strengths that I will bring to the role are (the candidate states their top three strengths). I would love to deliver right away with these if I were to join.”
Having said that, ask for their expectations and the pain points they wish to be resolved as your (the role name)?
This question is great because it a) allows both you and the employer to visualize how your strengths will fit in the role and how you will thrive in the role/company, and b) opens a discussion on how you can contribute and what the company needs.
Kelvin Ro, Career Coach, Kagi
What Will Be My Sphere of Influence in this Role?
Sphere of influence is very important in any role you choose. It shows how wide your exposure will be to others in the organization, which naturally develops into gaining mentors or promoters.
If most of your work will only be with your direct leader, growth or recognition may be stifled or more difficult to gain. A wider sphere of influence supports learning from other leaders and more exposure to a wide variety of topics in the business.
If you need more variety in a role, versus a more narrowly structured role, a wider sphere of influence keeps the job fresher for a longer time as well and gives you the runway to learn more as tenure goes on.
Luci Rainey, Principal, Day One Training And Coaching
What Improvements Would You Like to See in the Next Six Months?
The one question to ask during a job interview to figure out if the company is a good fit is: “What improvements would you like to see in your department/company in the next six months?”
This question does double duty because it focuses on the short-term, immediate needs of the department/company, so you know what’s going on now or soon. Additionally, this question will show you what the hiring manager values.
For example, if the hiring manager says he’d like to see all staff return to the office five days a week and you know you want a remote or hybrid role, this may not be a good fit for you.