He who asks the most questions, wins!
When the superstar (aka “A-Player”) professionals we know interview for a job, they don’t just sit back and answer the hiring manager’s questions.
They turn the tables and ask the hiring manager a bunch of key questions.
And if the manager doesn’t have good answers, they’re likely a bozo — you should move on to another opportunity.
Here are examples of the questions A-Players ask:
1) What are the company’s greatest challenges right now?
The purpose of this question is to find out what problems the company is trying to solve. You A-Players like solving problems.
2) What are the company’s main priorities right now?
This may be redundant to question #1, but it’s worth asking because the manager may not have volunteered what challenges they face.
Any good manager can name the top priorities for the business at any time.
3) How is the company structure organized (e.g. by department or brand or project)
Any good company has some form of structure. Even Google, known for some chaos, typically has a Product Manager/Product Marketing Manager leading a small team working on a project.
You need to know where you fit within the structure/team.
4) Who would my manager be, and who do they report to?
As we mentioned in The Top 7 Reasons Hiring Is Being Reinvented…Right Now!, your manager is the most important thing to your career.
You are hopefully meeting with the person who would be your manager, but you never know. I know someone interviewing at an adrenaline-sports business who thought he was meeting with his would-be manager, but he was mistaken.
After you figure out who your manager is, you need to figure out who their manager is…and so on, until you reach the top of the business.
5) Who are the shareholders/owners of the company?
It’s vital to know who owns the company: do they work at the company or are they investors hanging out somewhere else.
For example, if most of the company is owned by someone outside of the management team, then you should know who they are and consider working on building a relationship with them.
Don’t be afraid to ask. And if your manager doesn’t know the answer, they are a weak manager.
6) What is the path to earning more responsibilities?
A-Players want to grow their careers (it was #1 in The 5 C’s Of Why A-Players Switch Jobs).
Your manager should be able to explain the career path options you will have.
7) Are there any development/training opportunities I could potentially take advantage of?
Superstars crave development and you want to understand what if any options there are to develop your skills. If your manager is put off by this question, they are probably a bozo.
8) How are priorities set?
The purpose of this question is to see how this company organizes resources and gets $hit done.
If there’s a lot of hemming and hawwing….bozo alert.
9) How often will I receive feedback on performance?
A great boss will be able to easily answer this, whether it’s that you will get a structured performance review every 6 months or that they provide fluid review day to day.
10) Does the company have a purpose/mission statement?
All great companies have some form of a vision statement, mission statement or perhaps even just a succinct tag line. Check My Favorite Vision (or Mission) Statements for a few dozen killer examples.
11) What are the company’s values?
Any great boss should be able to articulate the core values of their business. They don’t have to be written on a coffee mug (they’re probably not at the great companies), but they are understood by a company’s leadership.
12) What’s the company’s approach to its employees and their families?
At the end of the day, family is more important than business.
So you should ask your would-be-boss how the company treats family stuff such as maternity or losses in the family. You’ll learn a lot from their answer.
13) How does compensation work?
Is salary the only component, or are their equity or bonus/commission programs?
What opportunities are there for you to grow your compensation?
If a boss is unclear/inarticulate about compensation, that’s another bozo-alert.
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