Interviewing for a job can be at the same time one of the most exciting and stressful experiences of one’s life. Is this potential opportunity a dream job or does something seem not quite right about it? It’s a high-pressure decision in many cases, especially if a move to a new city is part of the equation. While there is certainly no guaranteed formula of questions that will get you to the right information there are certain steps you can take in preparation and key questions to ask to see how the company sizes up to other possible opportunities you may be weighing. 

First, you want to do a thorough search of the company website and internet. Go to the company’s website and see how they are presenting themselves. Is the website professional-looking and up to date? Does it clearly articulate the company’s mission and purpose? Does the content on there line up with their purpose or does there seem to be a disconnect between what they say they do and what they are offering on the website? Also, be sure and input the company name into a search engine and see what comes up. You can learn a lot from various reviews and other such data that pops up about how the company cares about people and its reputation. 

Secondly, you will want to go into an interview with a list of questions ready to go. This list needs to go beyond the basic salary types of questions. You will want to have as good a barometer as you can on the company culture. You spend a lot of hours each week at work, you want to know you are in a good environment. You will want your questions to really help you get a feel for the day-to-day culture of the company and how they look to invest and develop their team members. Do they simply want people to show up at work and do their jobs or are they willing to help people grow in their competencies? In addition, you will want to have questions ready that allow them to connect the work to the mission of the company. This is important because if you are drawn to the opportunity by the company’s mission, yet the work of the team members doesn’t really seem to connect to it, then you will likely be disappointed and unengaged with the work there. Here are a few sample questions to consider as well: 

  1. Why did you choose to work here? See what the person interviewing is drawn to in their work there. Are they engaged and passionate about it or do they simply seem to be earning a paycheck? 
  2. How do you feel connected to the mission of the company in your work? This gets a little more directed to the connection between the work and the mission. It certainly is possible someone has a role that is a great fit and loves it whether they are connected or not to the mission. It is, however, still a good story to get from those with whom you engage during the interview.  
  3. What are examples of some projects I would be working on? Job Descriptions can be good overviews, but most companies don’t tend to keep them very updated or overly specific. Be sure to ask for very specific examples of the type of work you will be doing daily. Additionally, ask them if the duties of the job description appear in order of importance. This is vital because you could be drawn to a role’s job duty that is first on the list but is only a small part of where the role’s time actually goes on an average day.  
  4. How will I receive feedback on my work? Many people go through years in their jobs without any regular feedback given to them. It is critical that the role you take has a regularly scheduled feedback loop (and an atmosphere where you may ask for feedback at any time). A company that does not provide this channel cannot effectively invest and grow in its team members.  
  5. How do you invest in your employee’s professional development? A good follow-up to the prior question. Many companies may have grace periods of a year or so before they allow for these to kick in but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A company willing to invest in the employees is a company that cares about growing and getting better at what it does. The main thing to avoid is a situation where they tell you that you will need training for aspects of your work and they’ll get to it in a few months. To succeed and satisfy expectations any extra needed training should be among the very first things provided for you upon starting the job. 

There certainly are many more questions you can think of that are contextual and relevant to the role you are seeking. Go into the interview with these captured and available for you to access at the appropriate moment. You will walk away with a pretty good feel for not only the opportunity you are evaluating but the entire environment of the company offering it.