5 Great Questions to Ask the Interviewer

With Aimee Bateman

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5 Great Questions to Ask the Interviewer


Want to sound smart in the interview? Want to really impress the interviewer? Want to work out if the hiring company is right for you? Well then you need to watch Aimee's latest video where she gives you five questions to ask the interviewer to understand if the business and role is right for you.

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Hi I’m Aimee Bateman from Careercake and in this insight video I’m going to share with you my 5 favourite questions to ask the interviewer at the end of your interview. Now these questions are suitable for if you’re going for a brand new role in a company you’ve never worked for, but equally you can tailor these to be suitable for if you’re going for a role in the company you already work at, so you’re just going for a promotion or a sideways move, or an internal opportunity. Now these questions are also designed to help you, yes sound smart, and obviously impress the interviewer, but they’re designed to help you identify whether you want to work for them. These questions are going to help you gage what they’re about, do I want to report to you for the 2,3,4,5 years? Will I be happy here? So, let’s go.


Number 1, what is the culture like here? Now I love this question because what you’re showing the interviewer is that you know that matching a load of bullet points and duties on a job description is not just what this is about. A successful hire for you and them means you getting on with everyone, you being happy there, you fitting in with the culture that they’ve already got in place. That’s really important and you’re going to find out stuff about the culture and people’s behaviours and maybe people in the team that you just won’t find from the job description or the website. To get the most out of this question however you really need to understand who you are and what I mean by that is not just well I know that I’m good in conflict situations or I know that I’m good at maths. Levels of self-awareness come at different peaks and yours needs to be really through the roof in order for you to make good decisions. When they tell you that the culture here is really fast paced, how do you work in that environment? Do you die a death or do you thrive? To really get the most out of this question for you and them, make sure you’re going in there knowing exactly what environment and culture is going to suit you.


Next question, what characteristics would you say that the person that is going to be successful in this role needs to have? What type of people succeed in this business? And if you already work there, and you know somebody that’s totally nailed this job previously, his name was Mark, what do you think Mark had about him that made him really, really successful in this role? What characteristics? And just start talking around, I suppose, the type of individual that this person has in their mind, because what we need to do is identify what that person looks like. How they act, how they behave. Because you need to 1, associate yourself with that, so when they start giving you these characteristics, you now have the opportunity to align yourself with those things. Say oh my boss used to say that I was that, or people often refer to me as ‘empathetic’, and then you can throw in some examples. It also shows the interviewer that you know you really want to be the best, you really want to be successful because you’re already trying to understand the mind set and the activities. Equally, if they start describing somebody that you think oh my goodness that is so far away from me, you have the opportunity to pry a little bit more. If they say we need somebody that’s really money hungry, or somebody that’s a real go getter, a little bit fierce, or somebody that doesn’t have much empathy, and you know that you have tonnes of it, then that will help you make a decision. But just again a lovely question for you to understand and hopefully align yourself with the perfect candidate.


Next up, what type of challenges do you think the business is likely to facing over the couple of years, or the next couple of months depending on the industry? Now before you’ve asked this question, I need you to do a lot of research, and not just find out who their competitors are, but actually find out what the challenges are. Subscribe to industry specific blogs, magazines, who is doing great things in this industry? Are they on twitter? Are they on LinkedIn? Just obviously find out as much as you can and then when you’re asking them about these challenges you’ve kind of already got an understanding, or you can kind of predict the things this interviewer is going to say, and not only do you know about them, but you’ve also read up about some the potential solutions to some of these challenges. Now all of a sudden, this isn’t an interview of just questions going back, you’re having a commercial business conversation. You are two professionals on a level just chatting, just throwing ideas around. Now that is going to leave a massive impression, that is going to really impress them, and I doubt that many of the other people waiting in the interview room, in the reception, ready to come in after you are going to ask those kinds of things. Make sure that you really just boom, almost like this person is brilliant, they know about our industry, but not only that, you’ve now positioned yourself as part of the solution. And in that person’s mind, they’re kind of imagining you there in two or three years’ time when they’re going through this process, it’s a really, really good question to ask, as long as you’ve done your research first.


Next, how is performance measured in this role? Now I like this question because, well you can ask this even if you already work there, because it’s likely you’re going to have a different manager, and you can have different KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators), so it’s likely the process is going to be different to the one you already have. But it’s great because what you’re saying to them is, yeah I’m confident that I’m going to be really good at this job and that I’m going to be able to do it to a really, really high standard, which is why I’m very comfortable being accountable, and having my performance measured. I also really like it because the interviewer will give you an answer, maybe it’s we sit down every 3 months, every 6 months, every year, and now you can start talking about oh will we sit down regularly, will it be face to face, you know all that kind of stuff. They’re again visualising you in the place of work. But my favourite reason for asking this question is because it gives you the opportunity to talk about your previous meetings with your previous managers. When your performance has been measured in the past, and it’s been good, you now have the opportunity to reiterate that.


Now my absolute favourite question to ask the interviewer at the end of your interview should only come if you’re having a nice interview. If the interviewer is a complete dragon and totally cold then maybe don’t ask this question, but hopefully that won’t be the case, and that is very rarely the case. Just at the end, ask them what do you enjoy most about your role? What do you like the most about working here? And when you ask this question, don’t look uncomfortable, don’t say it with any level of suspicion because it will just come across wrong. Smile, look genuinely interested in them, very positive, and just throw that out to them. Now the reason this question is so, so positive, is because in that moment you’re making that person feel seen, heard and valued, and it goes back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I’ve talked about this a lot in some of my Careercake courses. Everybody in our core DNA needs to feel seen, heard and valued, no matter who you are, no matter what level of seniority you are in a business, we all like to feel that. And in that moment, that is exactly what you’re doing. You’re saying, I see you, I hear you, I value you, and I’m interested in you, not you the job title, or you the company, you, as an employee, as somebody that turns up to work every day for a salary just like I do, what do you enjoy? Now this is great, yes because it’s going to make them feel this person really sees me, which will make them feel good, and there is that lovely saying “people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they won’t forget the way you made them feel” and we need to end this interview with them feeling positive. That’s really important. But secondly, what it does is that you now start talking about really positive things, you know hopefully this person enjoys their job, but I should say really if they look a bit miserable and  they can’t find anything to say then that could be a little bit telling, but hopefully it’s a good place to work and they can tell you what they love, because now you’re starting to have a really lovely conversation and you can align yourself with the things that they’re excited about, align yourself with their values, if that’s the case, and everybody just leaves with a big smile on their face.


Now I just want to throw this out there, this is a question that a lot of career coaches, a lot of recruitment managers out there are saying that people should ask in an interview, they’re advising jobseekers to go out and ask this. Now I’m not saying don’t ask this, but let’s just talk about it, let’s just think about it a little bit. The question, have I given you any reason for you to doubt my suitability for the role? Do you think I am suitable for this vacancy? Now I understand why people are asking and advising you to say that. One, it shows that you’re confident. Two, it is also giving you the opportunity to eliminate any fears, any doubts, because obviously they tell you what they’re thinking, yes I have a doubt around this, or I’m conscious that you haven’t got this, and then you can obviously just confirm and convince them that you are right, I get all that. But how many people do you know honestly that are going to sit there and give you the real answer. I have been in recruitment a long time, I have filled more than 4000 vacancies, can you imagine how many interviews I have managed, sometimes I’m doing the interviews, sometimes other people are, that’s a lot of interviews, and the majority of people hate being asked this question, because what you’re doing is that you’re putting them on the spot a little bit. I don’t like breaking people to their face, I don’t like saying negative things to their face, I’ve seen this go down like a complete led balloon. Just think about it, of course there are some interviewers that are going to absolutely love being asked this, totally handle it, be totally fine, it fact I would now, but I’m 37, I’ve been interviewing a long time, I’d be very comfortable being asked that question, but I don’t think even four years ago I would have been that comfortable answering that question. Just think about it, we’re there to build rapport with a complete stranger not make them feel uncomfortable and put them on the spot. So, like I said, I’m not saying don’t ask it, just think about it first.


There you go, my 5 favourite questions. Now obviously, you don’t want to be there all day just throwing out questions to them, I would advise you pick 2 or 3. I also think it’s important that you just think about what you’ve talked about in the bulk of the interview. Don’t think right these are my 3 questions, but be so dead straight in your head that you’re going to ask these 3 that even if you’ve talked about them in the interview you still ask them, you need to mix it up a bit, you need to be flexible enough, so you need to have more than two or three ready just in case you’ve already covered it in the interview. I would also say avoid anything to do with holidays/ sickness/ hours/ salary, any of that stuff, that’s low level basic stuff you shouldn’t be asking that at the first opportunity to talk about your suitability, to find out about them, just leave that kind of questioning until maybe the second or third interview, or maybe even the offer stage. Like I said, of course you can talk about, there’s loads of questions out there, functionality around the job, where is the company going, but they’re my five favourites. Until next time, take care, and good luck.