Is the Job Right for You?

9 Questions You Should Ask in a Job Interview to Ensure the Position is a Good Fit for You  

Originally Published on

You’ve landed a job interview. The possibility of taking on a new job, starting at a new company, or even pursuing a totally new career path is giving you butterflies. You’ve done your homework–you know the company’s mission statement and its key competitors. You’ve researched recent news and have even googled your interviewers. You are prepared to blow them away with your strengths and skill set and show them that you are a perfect fit for their needs.

But what about your needs–what do you want in a new position? Why are you looking for a new job in the first place? Interviewing is a lot like dating; it’s not only an opportunity for the company to get to know you, but for you to get to know the company. So how do you really find out whether the position and the company are a good fit for you?

Asking the following key questions can help you decide.

To learn more about your role: 

  • Is this a new position or will I be filling a vacancy? Understanding why the role needs to be filled will give you a better idea of whether or not the opportunity is going to work for you. Is the company in growth mode and adding additional staff? If it is a new position, is the role clearly defined? Often with new positions the responsibilities are a bit ambiguous, so you will need to be flexible. If you are filling a vacancy, find out how long the previous person held the position and why he or she moved on. Was it because of a promotion or a new assignment? Or is this a position the company has had to fill four times in the last three years (RED FLAG!)? 
  • What is expected of me during the first 90 days in this position? Knowing the expectations and goals of a job are important for your success, as well as to help you determine if the responsibilities of the position align with what you want to do. Does the company have a plan in place to onboard you into the role and allow you to ramp up? Is training available or will you be utilizing an existing skill set? Will you be expected to bring previous clients with you as you take on this new position? The answers to these questions will help you to know which talents to highlight and share how you plan to accomplish those goals.
  • How does this position support the team’s goals and overall mission for the company? Take a step back and look at the big picture. How does this position fit into the broader company? If you will not deal directly with clients, it may be hard to see how your role brings in revenue or ensures operations run smoothly. The answer to this question can help you decide if your contributions will be recognized as an asset to the company, and if you will feel engaged as an employee. 

To learn more about working for the manager: 

  • How would your team describe why they enjoy working for you? First and foremost, is your potential new boss even able to answer this question? If not, that’s a huge red flag. This is also a great question to ask your potential peers, if they are part of the interview process. Do they express common themes of support and encouragement, or is everyone shifting uncomfortably in their chairs? It may be the nonverbal cues that truly tell you whether or not you want to work for this potential boss. 
  • How do you support and motivate your team? Does your potential boss start off the week sharing successes and running through the team’s overall goals? Does he or she frequently meet with everyone individually or take a more hands-off approach? The answer to this question can give you some idea of the manager’s communication style and whether or not it fits with the way you work.
  • How do you develop and train your staff? If you want to continue to grow and learn in your career (as most people do!) it’s very important to know if your potential manager is going to be supportive of your career goals or if he or she could be a roadblock. It’s a great sign if your potential new manager shares how he or she has provided opportunities for staff to develop new skills, and it’s even better if he or she has helped staff achieve career growth within the company. 

To learn more about the company culture: 

  • What are some ways that the company supports professional development and growth?This is a twist on the question above, but really gets to whether or not the company has a formal structure in place to grow its own people. Does the company invest in leadership development and training programs? Is it a place that focuses on finding great people it can train or is it just looking for people with certain skill sets?
  • How would you describe the company and team culture in just a few words? When the interviewer boils it down to just a few words, it’s easier for you to gauge if those words and values align with your own. Does the interviewer describe a fast-paced, competitive environment that promotes winning and risk taking, or a family-friendly atmosphere that encourages collaboration? When you hear these words, do you say, “Yes! Great! That’s me!” or do you pause and wonder if it is a place where you can be successful? 
  • What is one thing you enjoy about working here that doesn’t have to do with your day-to-day work? Americans spend about 47 hours a week working, so of course, you want to do something that you love. But you also want to be in a pleasant environment. Perhaps this job offers flexibility to spend time away from the office, or maybe the friendships developed with co-workers make the job enjoyable. The answer to this question will tell you a lot about what’s behind the work and help you determine if the company is the right place for you. 

It’s often easy to get swept up in the excitement of a new opportunity. While we all love to hear that a new company wants us to work there, it’s important to take a step back and think about whether it’s an opportunity that you really want and that will align with your own career goals.

Mary Beth Ferrante