What killer questions to ask in the Job interview?
The interview should be a two-way street. As much as employers are trying to identify the right person with the required skills, job seekers should focus on the right type of trade as well. You should have a list of questions to ask in an interview, and you should be strategic about when you ask an employer questions during an interview. You should not wait until your interview is nearing its end to ask questions. Keep your conversations natural and lively to gain the desired information with your questions.
One of the tricks I have used during job interviews is not to wait until the last minute to ask questions. Why wait when you have the option to ask unlimited questions?
There is no rule on how many questions to ask as a candidate but be strategic and mindful of the time. Let's take a look at an example, the hiring manager has 1 hour scheduled for an interview with 10 questions to ask everyone. One candidate sits there and completes all 10 questions and another one takes time to have a conversation with questions from the start. The second candidate will be asked less than 10 questions. Engage in the interview by asking the right questions. It takes practice and research; it is an art anyone can learn.
There is a rush at the end and hiring managers have time allocated for questions. I have interviewed many and this is where candidates go wrong. Job seekers don't ask/ they rush to ask at the end/ they ask irrelevant questions.
How to make the Job interview conversational?
For example: when they ask you to walk you through the core competencies in the previous job, tell me how you met the goals, did you ever fail meeting the deadline, were you performance managed for not meeting the goal etc, basically anything related to the performance type of questions.
Strategy to make it conversational: I would answer with the CARL model using past stories and ask right after "since we are on this topic, could you let me know what are the KPIs for this role, and how the performance is measured"
"Could you tell me what is the highest KPIs score on this xxx area for a high performer" then the interview becomes conversational!
Note: You should already have an idea about KPIs within your industry, it could be client satisfaction scores, client retentions metrics, client acquisitions, sales per call ratio, etc
You can now relax, take off attention, have a glass of water and let them talk. Take a pause to listen and write down the information they provide. I always brought a notebook with me exactly for this reason. Interview time could potentially be shorter because they might not have time to ask planned questions. Stop being an order taker, be in charge and lead the interview strategically. It is possible to overturn the table to employers, it is a two-way street.
And when they ask you a similar question again or why we should hire you type of question, bring what they told you into your answer
" As you said your highest performer has the quality score of 75% and my average has been over 85% consistently here is how I did it, and provide a CAR technique example..."
This shows you were listening and now you are using their metrics to measure your performance from the past. You need to hit them with the data and provide evidence that exceeds their expectation. It is only possible to compare the data once you know how the performance is measured at their end. Each employer measures performance differently.
then right after answering the questions, ask them to go over the career path for this role. Most top companies have a career path and promotion ladder processes built in. Where does this role mostly branch out to? this is how you are now transitioning to the conversation. Take a look at the video example.
Mistakes- Career professionals ask questions to impress hiring managers. But this is the time to ask the right questions to determine a few things:
Understand performance metrics/ KPIs to answer the next questions
Are you fit for one another?
Who are you competing with internally/ externally?
What tools are being used to train and day to day work?
Get into the hiring manager’s head to understand a bit further about the company's / department's culture.
Understand the expectation of your future boss.
What are a few examples of what to ask during a Job Interview?
Why should you ask the right questions during job interviews throughout the process?
To get the information for yourself to determine if you are the right fit. The interview is a two-way street. Don't be an order taker. Ask questions using a conversational way. These questions make sense depending on the type of role/industry. Ensure to study the job description and do your homework including informational interviews before asking these questions. Are answers available online or on a job description?
What are 3 challenging tasks for this role as a new hire?
This question allows you to get an idea of your boss’s pain and how you could solve it.
What kind of courses or certifications do people in this role take to be successful at day-to-day tasks?
Do you offer in-house or outsource that personal career development?
Do you have budgets for personal development? how much?
Companies usually have budgets allocated for internal or external courses, this question helps you understand the career path or courses you could take to be successful as a new hire or for internal promotions in future.
For example, in the banking industry, if you are applying to be a teller, and want to go to a financial advisor role in the future, most banks reimburse the fees after you pass. Wait until you get into the role then explore the courses. If your career path is project then there are PMP certifications paid by companies, this is why asking these questions makes sense depending on the type of role/industry.
What were some new resources and tools that were introduced to the company/department during the COVID-19 pandemic?
How was the Business Continuity Plan (BCP) executed? what were the lessons learned for this department/ role during the pandemic when executing BCP?
How was the disaster recovery handled?
How did the transition to remote work/ hybrid impact service level agreement & employment engagement?
This question helps you understand if the company is nimble and doesn’t have too much red tape. How efficient were they when it came to implementing their tools and resources from virtual onboarding/ remote work to day-to-day functions?
If you know the company is in the news because of a major disaster such as Rogers which had a major outage and shook the world of Canadians and you are being interviewed, it makes sense to ask these types of questions.
How long was the current position vacant?
Was it not filled by the expected time?
How soon do you want a successful candidate to join the team?
This question helps you understand how quickly they are going to move on with their proposal to a job offer. It also helps you identify the red flags about the leadership team and the culture. The longer the vacancy, the more desperate need they have. The works are pending therefore, they might have an early start date.
Is this a new role or an existing role?
This question allows you to dictate whether or not the company is growing or if someone went on a type of leave or was promoted to a higher role. If someone went on a type of leave, you have an insight into the role. It is most probably stressful, so be cautious!
If the role is listed as a contract, ask this
Some companies first hire in a contract to identify the right fit and make them full time but there are protocols and guidelines to avoid the budget issue and headcounts per department. Know the internal process of how people get full-time. Do they have to reapply? are there performance reviews to get promoted?
Most contracts do not have benefits and perks. Contractors might be the first ones to get laid off. If you can confirm that someone is on some type of leave, take note that your role might be impacted when that person returns, so it is best to have a backup plan. Is there a possibility of an extension? how often contract gets extended? how soon do they communicate so that you have options to look elsewhere?
How to spot the toxic environment/ bad boss who could use quiet firing to manage you out in future.
Quiet firing is the new term but has been in practice for years. There is a wrong way to terminate & the right way to terminate. Employers may use quiet firing to avoid severance payout. If you don't understand your manager's expectation of going above and beyond you might be watched for quiet quitting. We are not a right fit for all the jobs, if you realize it then you have the option to leave.
If you are targeted to quit, you need to watch your back as an employee. There are bad bosses out there who would manage you out by spying on you. A bad boss would use any tactics to make you quit by using quiet firing strategy.
Ask these questions: The interview is a two-way street. Watch how the hiring managers answer these questions. Leaders who ridicule the team and past employees might make or break your career. Is your future boss a promotion blocker or a creator of promotion?. Why your future boss could be quiet firing you if the expectations are not clear?
Can you describe the traits of a high performer, and how is it measured?
What is your 30-60-90 days plan/ expectation for a new hire?
Who are the stakeholders a new hire will have to influence/ collaborate with?
What is going above and beyond mean to you? and how is it measured?
How do you measure employee engagement?
How do you manage/ coach low performers?
What are the traits of low performers based on this role?
What would your team say about you?
How do you motivate a disengaged employee, do you have examples?
How do you celebrate top performances?
How do you deal with someone who disagrees?
How do you spot high performers/ low performers?
When was the last time you had constructive feedback from your team/ manager, what did you do after?
What do you like about your team the most?
What does work-life balance mean to you?
What do you consider micro-management?
Can your team function if you were to go away on a vacation for a couple of weeks?
When was the last time you promoted a person from your team?
What are the career ladders/ path for this role to transition internally based on what you have seen?
How do you recognize the high performer and motivate the lower performer to increase productivity?
What are the top skills/ strengths to succeed in this role based on your team culture?
What is the culture of your team, how do you define culture?
What were the lessons learned during the pandemic as a leader?
To avoid ghosting after a job interview ask these questions
How is feedback being delivered?
Do you provide feedback to everyone?
When and how should I be in touch with you if I don't hear by the expected timeline?
What would be the next steps after this interview for successful candidates?
How many more rounds of interviews/testing/assessments are we looking at and what are the formats like?
How many other candidates are you interviewing currently and when are you wrapping up?
Do you have an internal candidate competing for this role, are there preferred candidates internally?
How soon do you want a candidate to join?
Experienced hiring managers & human resource workers would be clear about setting the desired expectations. But do not assume they all know how to handle interviews flawlessly. If they don’t share a timeline for getting back to you, ask them about the turnaround time. This question helps you understand when they will get back to you and by when, as this is the best way to avoid being ghosted.
If you haven't heard back from anyone during the committed time, you can follow up with them. This does not make you look weak or desperate, as you are simply just asking for information related to their expectations.
When is the interview being wrapped up?
How many others are being interviewed internally or externally?
This question gives you an idea of you how long the turnaround time is, which will help you relax instead of becoming stressed counting the days till you hear back. This question will also give you information on how many candidates you are competing with, as they could end up becoming your biggest competitors. Sometimes companies already have someone within the team who want that promotion, they might have been shadowing/volunteering. Companies give preferences to internal hires at times. You deserve to know if there are preferred candidates.
While you are waiting on a response, you can continue with your job search, since searching for a job never stops until you sign a job offer and officially start working.
How does your training work?
This question gives you an idea of if they have established formal training or on-the-fly training where you are expected to learn on your own and make it work. They can also assign training where they assign mentors, modules, and tests. Be careful about training delivery and bad onboarding. The training process can determine your probation and successful journey.
You need to think twice if they want you to learn on your own. Are you capable of taking this role? If you said yes, then you already have an action plan ready. Keep in mind that each employer has different tools to monitor your training regardless of your expertise. A new job would take a few weeks or months to master, so find out what tools you need or have for ongoing support. If they want to rush training and want, you on the floor back and forth before the training is completed it is not a good onboarding process. Everyone learns differently, you know what works for you.
One great example of a tool is a type of professional development course that takes place outside or in-house. Good companies offer tons of training before expecting results. Good companies do not focus on who learns the fastest. Everyone is unique!
What qualities do you think are most important for this role? why would people fail at this role based on your previous experience?
This question helps give an idea about the ideal candidate employers are willing to hire.
What is the most important strength needed for this role to be successful within 30-60-90-365 days?
Helps you understand management's expectations. Some roles you could master within a couple of weeks and some take years. Is there a high expectation for this role, you could not meet within 365 days?
Ask about a 30-60-90-day plan for a new hire.
You will know the onboarding/training process if there is any. There are red flags for learning on the fly.
What are the KPIs and how do you measure the meet and exceed?
Will there be a performance review monthly, quarterly, or yearly?
What are the KPIs and how do you measure the meet and exceed?
What are good metrics and bad metrics?
What kind of metrics your high performer has?
What kind of metrics your lower performer has?
These questions help you understand the overall targets, are the target too aggressive?
This question helps you understand how your results and performance will be measured. We all need goals to set so that we can understand how to be successful at a new job with clear expectations. Are your metrics related directly to your boss’s metrics, team, or the company?
This question helps you prepare for the possible next question about why we should hire you😏.
KPIs are measured differently everywhere, don't assume. Seek to understand first before putting yourself on the exceed list.
This question helps you prepare for the possible next question why we should hire you, what are your strengths?
Who are the internal and external stakeholders for this role?
You will understand which departments and vendors and if the roles are being funded.
Most roles in non-profit sectors are funded by the government and the role could be eliminated when there is no funding. Are you okay with that?
What is your leadership style or work style? How often you will be having meetings and coaching?
This question helps you determine what kind of boss you will be working with.
Are remote/ hybrid options available if necessary? how does the hybrid work model work? how often you are required to be at work?
Some companies don’t allow staff to work at home due to security reasons. This helps you understand the compliance company has in place and the process of working from home. Most companies have guidelines on remote work. Can you work from anywhere or just within the city you are located in or only your home?
This question helps you dictate work-life balance and flexibility. A handful of bosses won’t allow work from home even if the company enables the work-from-home option. There is a difference between company policy and micromanaging. So, ask yourself, are you working with a micromanager?
What Is the team demographic like in terms of seniority/tenure/DEI?
This question gives you an idea of if there is someone to go to for expertise. You need to be surrounded by diverse mentors who know the company's tools and systems.
A new job is stressful, so you should gather yourself with a good team of experts. These questions also help you understand the turnover rate if staff are all new (based on how old the department is.) This question will help you understand how a company treats DEI. Ask them to give you the tour to feel a sense of belonging.
Are there any questions you want me to clarify?
This signifies the last straw to answer any missed pieces of information or elaborate on certain questions for interviewers.
What do you like the most about your role or company or department or team?
This final question gives you an idea of what your boss thinks about the company and team. Remember that people leave bosses and toxic company culture or department culture. Give yourself a minute to plan ahead. Your boss is going to make your career or break it.
If you want to be known as an active listener, I recommend you take a notebook with you.
Sometimes there are multiple questions on one question, you don't want to keep asking. This will help you stay on track instead of asking to repeat the next part of the questions. Notebooks could be used to ask follow-up questions while the conversations are happening. You could capture some of the highlights of the interview and add those on when sending thank you letter. Always ask if you could take out a notebook to take notes.
Top questions to ask for contact center/customer service. Ask these strategic questions during a job interview based on the conversation/ type of role.
What are the metrics for customer satisfaction?
How long is the in-class and on-job training?
What is the employee turnover rate?
What is the attrition rate?
What is the average wait time?
What is the customer service survey result this year/ past year?
What is the average ACW/AUX time?
Do you measure hold time, and wrap-up time for agents, what are the metrics?
What are the employee engagement metrics?
Call abandonment ratios and metrics?
What are the Average Handling Time guidelines?
What is the absenteeism ratio?
Client acquisition and retention stats
Is there an outbound campaign?
Is there any sort of new project in the pipeline?
What is the company or department budget?
Has there been any major process improvement in a pipeline?
Traffic on the company's website?
Is there a social media campaign?
How many complaints do you get on average?
How are feedback and complaints being handled?
Is there a new system or product launch?
Is there community involvement?
What is your busy and slow season?
Who are the vendors?
Which services are outsourced?
How much coaching happens in the workplace? Are there metrics?
What do the performance management metrics look like?
How often does the performance appraisal occur, and how is it measured?
How To Spot the Red Flags on the Job Descriptions/ Interview?
Red flags on the job descriptions/ hiring process
We’re like a family
Job descriptions that are either vague or extremely detailed (four pages long)
Word such as unicorns, ninja, rockstar, superhero, multitaskers, quick learner, independent, work under stress, able to cope with stress, able to deal with hostile conditions, dynamic, outgoing etc
Unpaid job interview assignments which take lots of research
Too many interviews or hoops to jump through
The same job posting appears routinely
The interviewer is late, rude or doesn’t respect the interviewee
Work under pressure
Work under a minimal supervision
Hit the ground running
Able to wear multiple hats/ multitask
Think outside the box
Flexible to work long hours/ after hours
Able to travel, must have own vehicle
Able to run/plan events and build relationships/ networks outside the work hours
Unpaid volunteering after hours
Perks disclosed such as junk food, games, happy hours, massage chair
Hiring urgently, willing to start as soon as possible
Unlimited unpaid time off
Job descriptions are not right, for example, the job descriptions of the manager look like the senior manager and the manager is reporting to VP in a bigger company, but the pay is not competitive.
Is your boss quiet firing you?
Sweta Regmi is a hiring manager from award-winning companies turned into Founder and CEO at Teachndo, a Certified Career & Résumé Strategist and was named the Top 25 Job Search Expert to follow on LinkedIn in 2021. Her insights have been featured in CBC National News, City News, CTV, National Post, Yahoo, MSN, The Globe and Mail, Forbes, The Sun, The Toronto Sun, LinkedIn News, Indeed, Colleges, Career Conferences, and many more. She is the Amazon Best Seller of 21 Resilient Women.