While it's very important to prepare for an interview so you can sound confident and clear in your answers, one part of interview preparation that's often overlooked is what questions the job seeker should ask the hiring manager. 

I coach my clients to ask eight questions in the interview that can actually help improve their chances of getting the job. One of these questions also has the added benefit of helping you determine if the employer is going to overwork you. That question is:

"Tell me about the most successful hire you've made recently. What did this person do to become a top performer so quickly?"

The answer to this question will reveal a lot about what the hiring manager values when it comes to employee performance. For example, read both of these responses:

Bill joined the company and immediately put his experience and communication skills to good use. He was efficient and always seem calm and in control. He gets so much done in 40 hours. He never had to stay late or work a lot of overtime because he used his expertise to streamline his learning curve. It was great to see him fall into a great rhythm at work so quickly.


Mary joined us when we had a lot of fires burning. She jumped right in and burned the midnight oil to get us back on track. She was always available and worked a lot of nights and weekends to get us where we needed to be. She's always the first one in and the last one to leave. We really appreciate how much time and effort she's put in since she joined.

Can you see the difference between the two answers?

In the first one, the manager values how effective Bill is with his time. In the second, the manager values how much time Mary is spending on the job. Now, that doesn't mean that one employer is better than the other. It just means they value your time differently. Think of it this way...

You're a business-of-one selling your services to an employer. The employer doesn't hire you because they like you, they hire you because they believe you're the ideal candidate to save and/or make them enough money to justify the cost of hiring you. However, how they think you should deliver that value will vary from employer to employer. By asking this question, you can determine what the hiring manager values and determine if they like quantity (how many hours worked) over quality (effectiveness in the hours allotted for work).

Learning to spot the companies that prefer you work overtime in the interview can help you make sure you are choosing a company that has the same work-life balance beliefs as yourself. If you don't like to work extra hours, then you need to ask this question in your next interview!