As job candidates, we often think about the questions we'll be asked during interviews -- about our past, our experience, and our approach to the potential job. What many often don't consider, however, are the questions we should be asking the interviewer. Is it a great place to work? How do we know if we even want the job in question?
Today, eager job-seekers, especially younger ones, are searching for more than a paycheck -- they want fulfillment, engagement, and even joy at work. The problem is that it's sometimes hard to see through the "sell" that often comes during an interview. Like dating, asking the right questions and seeing through the initial wooing period can help you determine whether a job is right for you. (Once you've answered their questions first, and it becomes clear the prospective employer is interested, of course.)
So if you're looking to work for a great company that puts it's people first, here are eight questions to jot down for your next interview, when they inevitably ask, "Do you have any questions?"
1. How transparent is the CEO and executive team about the company's performance and decisions?
Why: Transparency is one indicator of a great place to work. These organizations share everything and share often. They want their employees to know what's going on and get their input.
2. How do you measure a manager's commitment to the success of an employee here?
Why: It's easy to say that managers value their employees' success -- however, companies that make this a priority measure managers' success on the basis of their teams' successes. You want to find out how this organization walks their talk.
3. How does the organization monitor employee engagement?
Why: Engagement is a big buzzword, because if you have engaged employees, your retention numbers are high, work gets done faster, and innovation flourishes. However, few organizations are willing to invest the time, money, and effort required to create great cultures -- hence the low engagement numbers that Gallup regularly reports. Therefore, you want to look for regular engagement surveys or a system that easily allows information to flow from the lowest levels up to the highest and back and forth. Also look for any examples of the CEO or executive team being available to the employees at any time.
4. Is autonomy, when it comes to employees' work and schedule, part of the management style here?
Why: Trust is a key factor in great companies. One way to see that a company trusts its employees is if it gives them autonomy to manage themselves in the best way possible. Look for unlimited vacation, ability to work at home, and flexible work hours.
5. Where do the best ideas come from on a regular basis?
Why: A great company wants everyone to participate and creates structures that allow for ideas to bubble up from the bottom to the top.
6. Could you cite some examples of employees that have started at junior levels and moved their way up to senior positions?
Why: This is a great question to ask a potential employer in order to monitor how committed the business is to developing its people. Obviously you need to take into consideration how long it's been around -- new startups may not have much of a track record yet, but if a business is 10 years old and doesn't have one example of someone moving up the ranks, then that's a sign that employee development is not a priority.
7. What are your retention and attrition numbers?
Why: Most great organizations are transparent with their information. If this is the case, then everyone should have a good sense of what these numbers are or at least be able to speak to them, including an interviewer. A great company can be like a family, meaning that most people don't leave. This question can prompt a great discussion on how fluid the company's workforce is and why.
8. What is your company mission?
Why: This is probably the most obvious question. Most companies are starting to prioritize crafting a mission and sharing it frequently. It helps companies, their employees, and their customers connect what they do with why they do it. Asking this question is essential in the interview process, to gauge if a prospective employer's "why" is compatible with yours. If it is, it's another way to connect yourself to the job if, after asking all the above questions, you are dying for the position.
Make sure when you ask these questions that you get specific answers. Is the interviewer excited to provide this information to you? Do they know it? All of these are indications that the organization could be great. Remember, interviewing your potential new employers as carefully as they interview you is key to being seen as a valuable. And neither of you should settle for anything less than great.