Five Questions to Ask on an Interview

Looking Beyond the Job Description

Jan 29, 2019

Everyone wants to find their perfect job, but how can you determine that from a single interview? The basic details of the position are usually outlined for you - the job title and description, the salary, the direct manager over the position, etc.  But to help you ascertain if the job for which you are interviewing meets the criterion of your perfect job, you'll need to dig a little deeper by asking different questions. The answers, when put together, will give you a fairly accurate picture of what's really going on behind the interview.

1. What are the priorities that will need to be addressed immediately in this position?

A title alone tells you nothing. The job description won't reveal much either, except whether or not you're capable of doing what's required functionally on a daily basis. For the same reason you put your accomplishments on your resume - and not just the job description - here, too, you want to get a sense of the individuality responsibilities of this job within this company.

Was everything left running smoothly? Is it pretty much picking up and continuing daily functions as normal? Or, is there damage control needing to be done? If so, is there a timeline for the repair, and is it an achievable one considering your capabilities? Is it realistic, regardless of who holds the position?

3. How long was the previous person here? Why did they leave?

Generally, in answering the first part, the interviewer will answer the second part, as well. If they don't, then ask it. If that person was there an oddly short time, you also want to know how long the person before them was there.

If the job is in disarray, and the last two employees were there only a short period and were fired, you don't need to ask any of the other questions here. Exit gracefully and then run! Because before long, you, too, will be terminated for not achieving whatever it is they want done - regardless of whether or not the stated timeframe sounded realistic.

3. Tell me about your management style. How did you bring out the best in your employees?

Is he a micro-manager? Is she an information hound that needs to be kept informed of everything? Does he leave the team members alone to do what he hired them to do and simply keep on top of what's happening? Does she help you if you have trouble? Will you be mentored and encouraged, or will the working environment be too contradictory to accomplish anything with a positive attitude?

Obviously, a potential manager will not come right out and tell you he's a micro manager! Instead he might say, "I like to keep a very close watch on what's going on in my department," or "I visit with each member of my department on a daily basis to make sure they're staying on track," or something similar. If you pay close attention, his or her management style will be all too clear.

4. What types of people tend to excel here?

Workaholics? Ones who are self-motivated and manage themselves well? People who work well in teams or committees? Employees who keep their supervisor informed of "where they are with things" on a daily basis?

This tells you something about the pervasive culture in the company or department. Generally speaking, companies - or departments - tend to be made up of similar types of people that are in harmony with the company culture and philosophy. An entrepreneurial person will tend not to function well in a committee environment. While sales personalities can vary greatly, the top achievers are typically goal driven and motivated to consistently achieve more. People who are accustomed to thinking for themselves will find themselves chafing in a company that has a more dictatorial style, while those who perform better when they're told what to do will find themselves adrift in a company that requires its employees to think for themselves.

5. How Long Have You Been Here? Why Do You Stay?

The answer to this question will give you a better understanding of the feeling or health of the department or company. It will also give you additional insight into your potential boss, his or her management style, and what type of people excel in the department or company.

These are informational questions, not challenges. Be genuinely interested in the answer, because you're gaining valuable information that might directly impact your future. When you leave the interview and think about everything that was said, you'll be matching what you learned with the job you are seeking.

Also, pay attention to the interviewer's body language and facial expressions. Is he relaxed? Does he fill in some of the spaces? Does he speak TO you - or AT you? Does he answer the question briefly and then quickly fire off another one? These, too, are valuable cues, and after the interview, you'll need to piece them together with the verbal information you received.

Your perfect job might land in your lap by grace and good fortune. However, it's far more likely that you'll need to look for it. And to recognize it, you'll need to know what it doesn't look like, just as much as what it does.

About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Celebrating 40 years in staffing excellence! Contact us today


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