Turning the Tables: Interview Questions Job Applicants Should Ask

What interview questions should you ask an employer? ... photo by CC user nuggety247 on pixabay

We’ve all been there: you’ve found the perfect job for your skills, but the boss is too bossy, the co-workers are childish and malevolent, or the attitudes are just a bad match. It makes you miserable. While interviewers are usually the ones who ask questions, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask interview questions to the interviewer. Reverse the roles – here’s how.

What Principles Does Your Company Value?

This question can tell you about what it might be like to work with the employer. If they embrace customer service, for example, and put a lot of focus on that, it might be a great place to work if you’re being hired in that department. It can also clue you in to the long-term viability of the company.

If their values are fuzzy or you can’t quite tell what the company stands for, it indicates problems at the middle and upper management level, mostly upper management. Not good.

Does Your Organisation Embrace Ideas From Employees? How?

If you’re the creative type, you want to know that your prospective employer values ideas. Do they have an employee suggestion box? If so, how many employee ideas get implemented within the company in a year? If there is no formal process, it means that the employer either doesn’t value employee ideas or the management isn’t thinking about growth in this way. It could be bad if you like to engage management and affect the company’s growth.

Do You Help Employees Down On Their Luck?

It happens to the best of us. What happens when an employee is down on his luck? Does the company offer a community disaster fund or financial help for families in need within the organisation?

If not, does the company help connect you to financial firms? For example, Ferratum offers cash loans for people on Centrelink – an important way for low income people to dig themselves out of financial trouble. If employees are at or near the poverty line, this could mean that the employer isn’t paying them enough. If there’s no financial assistance for low income employees, run.

What Are Your Plans For Growth?

This is a great question to know the answer to, and it gives you an idea of the long-term potential of your job.

Who Previously Held This Position?

This seems like a pretty straightforward question, but the implications embedded in the answer will tell you a lot. Ask the person interviewing you, what happened to the previous employee.

If the person was promoted, for example, it could tell you about potential possibilities for advancement in the company. If they were fired, you might not be able to get details as to why, but it tells you that there are rules which are taken seriously, which you can then ask about. If a person quit, this can be (but isn’t always) a bad sign.

What’s The Next Step?

This question is almost never asked, but should be the last question you ask before walking out the door. Get specifics from the interviewer. If he or she seems wishy washy or unwilling to give you details about the hiring process, or if the interviewer doesn’t seem like he or she wants to answer your question, it might be best to move on. Either the employer isn’t serious, or there are serious hiring and HR problems developing within the organisation.

Jamie Holden is a personnel director. He likes to write about what works for him on the web. His posts appear on many finance and employment blog sites. 

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