What are the best questions for you to ask in an interview? Twice a year, I share my best suggestions for interviewing your interviewers. This biannual tradition started ten years ago, and ultimately turned into our Amazon Careers bestseller Ladders Interviews Guide.
Here are 13 questions that are easy to ask, provide valuable insight into the company you’re interviewing with, and help you make important decisions about your next great role…
1. What’s one thing that’s key to this company’s success that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know?
2. What’s your (or my future boss’) leadership style?
3. What are the three things I can contribute in the first 100 days to make you feel great about hiring me?
4. Which competitor worries you the most? Is it their strategy, execution, market size, or something else that worries you?
5. How has work-from-home impacted your team’s productivity? During COVID, what’s been the best boost for your team productivity and morale?
6. Why did you decide to hire for this position instead of the many other roles you could have hired for? What about this position made you prioritize it over others?
7. If I get the job, what does great performance look like? What are the key accomplishments you’d like to see in this role over the next year?
8. How open is the company with information? What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)?
9. If we are going to have a very successful year in 2022, what will that look like? How does this position help achieve those goals? (This question is a surprisingly easy way to come across as somebody who is always looking ahead.)
10. How does the company do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process?
11. What is the rhythm to the work around here? Is there a time of year that it’s “all hands on deck” and we’re pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year?
12. What are the plans for “back to normal?” What will normal look like? How are you thinking about time in-office vs. flex vs. remote for the workforce? (Please note: nobody knows the answers to these questions yet, so expect a conversation, not a conclusion.)
13. Is this a new position, or an existing position? If new, why was it created and what are the expectations?
As with all interview interactions, you want to come across as inviting a conversation, not as a know-it-all with ‘gotcha’ questions.
One approach to take is to pick the questions in which you’re the most interested, and asking every single one of your interviewers the same questions. You can even let them know you’re doing this – it shows you’re engaged and prepared.
Asking the same question across interviewers can be very helpful in sussing out company culture, alignment, and conflict.
Does each person provide roughly the same answers? Are there big differences between how two groups or two heads of groups respond? Are any of their answers contradictory?
All of these insights will help you better understand the institution you’re about to join, and make a better, more informed decision about whether you should.