Selecting the right employer is an important decision, especially when you’re just starting your career. But like any big decision, there’s a lot to consider, and it’s difficult to predict from a few brief encounters during the interview process if this company is the right one for you, or if it will be a decision you later regret.
There are two main goals you need to achieve in an interview, and they both involve asking the right questions.
Goal 1: To reveal if this company is the right fit for you.
Goal 2: To set yourself apart from others interviewing for the same job.
It’s normal to walk into an interview with the primary concern of answering questions correctly, looking professional, and making a good first impression. However, as someone who has interviewed hundreds of young men and women, I am most impressed when the interviewee begins to interview me. More specifically, when they ask meaningful and essential questions that demonstrate:
1. They want to select the right company for themselves to launch their career.
2. They have a desire to learn and understand the company, not just land a job.
From my experience, the interviewee who asks the best questions typically is offered the job over those who ask little to no questions at all during the interview. You may have already heard that you should always walk into every interview with a list of questions for the interviewers, but if you really want to learn about the company and impress the person interviewing you, here are the three most powerful questions you should ask:
1. Can you tell me about two or three people that have been with the company for a while and the growth opportunities they have experienced?
Insight: Any employer should be able to point to real examples with specific individuals and tell their story. This reveals that they are invested in their employees’ continual development and in tune with what is going on in the company. If you want to take things one step further, you can also ask to meet one of those individuals and hear their story for yourself.
2. Would you mind describing your company’s culture and what the company does to reinforce it?
Insight: A manager or executive of a great company should be able to quickly and easily articulate their corporate culture in a clear and concise manner. They should also be able to provide specific examples of how the culture is demonstrated on a day-to-day basis and the benefits of the culture for the employee. To test theory from reality, ask multiple managers and employees the same question to see if you hear different or similar answers.
3. Can you give me one or two examples that demonstrate what this company has done for you personally that illustrates it values you as an employee?
Insight: This question makes it personal for the interviewer, and it can lead to a powerful response. You may learn as much about the company by the way the interviewer responds to the question as you can by their actual response, and it could lead to more meaningful conversations.
By asking these three questions, you should have a much better understanding of the company and how it operates. They will give you insights into what it’s like to work at the company, the career opportunities you can expect over a period of time and whether or not the company truly values their employees. These questions will also help you to identify if this is a company you want to work for, and ultimately, they may be the reason you get offered the job.
Brian T. King is the founder and owner of multiple firms encompassing design, construction, real estate, and manufacturing, and currently president of the integrated Design-Build firm A M King. Brian shares his passion for mentoring young professionals, rising managers and entrepreneurs at speaking engagements around the country, on podcasts and via his blog.