Nail the Interview

Key Questions to Impress at Your Next Interview

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Preparing for an interview isn’t just about rehearsing your answers to common questions; it’s also about preparing the right questions to ask your interviewer. The questions you pose can demonstrate your genuine interest in the role and the company, reveal your critical thinking skills, and help you determine if the job is the right fit for you. In this post, we will explore key questions to impress at your next interview, ensuring you leave a lasting impression while gathering crucial insights about your prospective employer.

Key Interview Questions to Ask

  • Can you describe the company culture? Understanding the company culture is essential to determine if you will be a good fit. This question shows you care about the work environment and your potential colleagues.
  • What are the biggest challenges the team is currently facing? This question demonstrates your proactive nature and willingness to understand and address the company’s current issues.
  • How do you measure success in this role? Asking this question shows that you are focused on performance and results. It helps you understand what is expected from you if you are hired.
  • What opportunities are there for professional development? This question highlights your interest in growth and long-term commitment to the company, showing that you are looking to advance your skills and career.
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  • Can you tell me about the team I will be working with? Showing interest in your future team indicates that you are keen on collaboration and building good working relationships.
  • What are the next steps in the interview process? This question demonstrates your eagerness and organizational skills, ensuring you are prepared for what comes next.
  • How does the company support work-life balance? By asking this, you show that you value a healthy balance between work and personal life, which is crucial for long-term productivity and satisfaction.
  • Can you describe a typical day in this role? This question helps you gain a realistic view of the daily responsibilities and tasks, ensuring there are no surprises if you are hired.
  • What is the company’s vision for the next five years? Demonstrating interest in the company’s future shows that you are thinking long-term and are interested in contributing to its growth and success.
  • How does this position contribute to the company’s goals? Understanding how your role fits into the bigger picture highlights your interest in being a valuable team member who contributes to the overall success of the company.
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Measuring Success

Every company, team, and role will have specific ways of defining and measuring success. The most common methods involve Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which for most companies include metrics like revenue, profit, and various other performance measures. The team you’re interviewing for will also have its own set of KPIs. To gain a better understanding of their priorities, consider asking the following questions:

  • Which KPIs matter most to the team?
  • Which KPIs are the priority for improvement right now?
  • Which KPIs would you expect this role to directly influence?
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These questions can reveal a lot about the team‘s focus and health. Do they have clarity on which metrics they are influencing and which need improvement? How targeted is their approach to performance management? By understanding these aspects, you can gauge whether the team has a clear, strategic focus or if they are adopting an ‘everything needs improving’ mentality. This insight can help you determine how well the team is managing its performance and priorities.

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What you are also signaling is your willingness to measure performance and be measured. Some individuals resist measurement, but embracing it is crucial if you want to progress in your career. Demonstrating this openness shows that you are committed to continuous improvement and accountability.

Clarity on Goals

Having clarity on which measurements matter is a great starting point. The next step is establishing a goal-setting cadence and understanding which goals are most important. Many teams struggle with prioritization and often set too many goals, leading to diminished results as efforts become scattered. Here are some valuable questions to ask:

  • How often do you set team goals?
  • Who is responsible for setting goals for the team?
  • How many goals does the team currently have?
  • Which framework does the team use to set goals?

If your team sets goals annually, it may indicate they are slow-moving and not particularly agile. You could be working on outdated or irrelevant activities as circumstances change over the year. A quarterly cadence is more favorable as it balances frequent goal-setting with responsiveness to change, allowing the team to maintain focus on high-value goals for three months. This approach can enhance productivity and ensure that efforts are aligned with the most important objectives.

If goals are set at the top and handed down with little or no involvement by the team, that could be a sign of old-school autocratic leadership. Most employees are choosing not to be managed in this way and prefer performance management processes that offer more trust, autonomy, and goal and agile execution-based accountability and collaboration

Goal Setting Framework

The question of which goal-setting framework is being used is also interesting. The first possible answer is there isn’t one or ‘targets are added to a spreadsheet’. For teams that do set goals, two popular methods are OKRs and SMART goals. You can read more about OKRs vs SMART goals here.

If the company is using the increasingly popular OKR framework used by Google and pretty much the whole technology sector, they are likely to value:

  • Transparency – everyone sees everyone’s goals and there are no silos
  • Ambition – OKRs are scored to be hard by default but don’t worry, 100% is not the definition of success, read more about OKR grading here.
  • Agility – agile teams need goals to direct their efforts and OKRs are a big favourite. OKR achievement is nearly always underpinned by weekly and bi-weekly check-in cadences where priorities, problems, and wins are openly discussed and shared.

Missed Goals

There are not many teams that hit all of their goals all of the time. How missed goals are looked upon and treated will tell you a lot about a company. Here is a good question to ask:

  • If you set a goal and it’s missed, what happens next?

Really good teams are not afraid to set the bar high and stretch themselves. This means they also can’t be afraid of failure or at least not hitting the mark. The ideal answer is to see any missed goals as learning opportunities through a process of reflection and discussion. The wrong answer that might not be revealed in an interview is there’s a post-mortem, people shout and sometimes people lose their jobs. Living in a culture of fear is always going to be a place to avoid.

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06/17/2024 07:36 am GMT

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