Job seekers spend a lot of time preparing for job interviews, especially when it comes to asking questions to the HR manager. And they should. The interview is the best chance to prove you are the right person for the job.
But, before the company interviews you, you should take some time to interview the company. Asking questions before the job interview is a great way for you to prepare for your big moment. The more information you have will give you an extra boost of confidence before and during the interview.
9 Questions to Ask Before an Interview
1. Who Will I Meet With?
An essential part of an interview is the preparation you do before the interview. This means doing your homework and learning about the people you’re going to meet with. Knowing who you’re meeting with can help you figure out what questions the interviewer(s) might ask you, and it can help you figure out which questions you want to ask which people.
For example, the HR director probably can’t describe what a typical day is like. Likewise, team members may not be able to tell you much about the benefits package. Knowing who you’re meeting with will help you prep the right questions for the right people.
It also gives you a bit of insight into the company’s culture. For example, if you meet with the team, that tells you that teamwork is a significant part of this company (or team’s) culture. And, if you meet with other teams that you might work with, that tells you that interdepartmental communication is important, too.
Lastly, knowing who you’re interviewing with gives you a chance to check them out. Research them on the company website, social media, and, of course, LinkedIn. You never know—you may find that you have something in common with one of these people, which could be a great icebreaker in the interview!
2. Where Will It Be?
When it’s an in-office interview, the scheduler will likely ask you if you know where the office is and provide you with details about parking. But with so many companies switching to remote work and interviewing online, there’s a good chance that you’ll be meeting virtually. Take this time to ask about the tools that you’ll need to familiarize yourself with, and details about whether these will be video interviews, audio-only, etc.
3. How Long Will The Interview Take?
Once you know who and how many people you’ll meet with, you should have a vague idea of how long your interview will last. However, it’s better to have the company tell you than for you to guess.
For example, let’s say you’re meeting with 10 people. That’s a lot of interviewing! And, whether it’s a panel format or one-on-one format, you’re going to be at the interview for a while. Having that information in advance helps you plan your day accordingly and prepare.
However, don’t assume that just because you’re meeting with one or two people means you’ll be in and out in an hour. Some interviewers like to ask a lot of questions or ask you to demonstrate your skills through problem-solving. It’s better to ask the scheduler what to expect time-wise than make the wrong assumptions.
4. What Are Your Company’s Remote Work Plans?
There’s a good chance that the company is still determining whether they’ll implement remote work for the long haul, but unless you’re applying to a fully remote job (or a fully on-site job), you should inquire about this. And, if the company plans to return to the office, ask about the details and safety precautions that they’re taking. Evaluate these and compare them to your wants and needs.
The policy may vary by team and department, and could be “voluntary,” as well. Ask follow-up questions if the initial response is unclear, but respect that the pandemic has presented many companies with unexpected issues to address and it may take time before anything is solidified.
5. What’s the Format?
No matter how many people you meet with during your interview, you won’t know how you’re going to meet with them unless you ask. The company may use a panel interview format, so you meet with more people in less time. Or, the company might even use a group interview.
If you can find out the interview format beforehand, you can prepare for it. You’ll also want to brush up on your video interviewing skills since, given the pandemic, these will likely be done through conferencing technology.
6. Is There Anything You Want Me to Prepare?
Whoever reaches out to schedule your interview should fill you in on this. But if they don’t, it’s worth asking.
At the least, bring your resume or have online versions ready if you’re interviewing virtually.
7. What Date and Time Is It?
This is a crucial step not only for in-person interviews but remote interviews, too. When you’re doing a video interview (or even a phone interview), you and your interviewer may not be in the same time zone. Even if you are, the interviewer may operate on a different schedule because the company’s main office is in a different time zone.
When you’re confirming the date and time of a remote interview, make sure you’re also confirming the time zone of the interview. That can be your time zone or theirs, but make sure you and the scheduler are clear on which time zone you’re talking about.
8. What Should I Be Prepared to Speak to in the Interview?
It’s unlikely that the scheduler will have an answer for this, so don’t be surprised if the answer is vague and non-committal. However, on the off chance that you do get an answer, listen closely to what the scheduler says.
The answer will likely give you insight into the company’s most pressing issues. What are the problems the company is trying to solve? More importantly, how will you solve those problems? The answer can help you understand what the employer most wants from potential candidates, and having this information can help you structure your answers accordingly.
9. What’s Your Dress Code?
Whether it’s an on-site interview or video interview, find out what employees typically wear, then use that as a guide to choosing your interview outfit. Wear something that’s a notch up from the dress code, so you don’t overdress or underdress, but still look professional. You don’t want to show up in your best suit, only to discover that jeans and concert T-shirts are the standard company attire.
Acing Your Interview
The funny thing about an interview is that it starts long before it starts! From the moment you hit “apply,” your interview has begun. And, every interaction you have with the company is a chance to stand out and prove to everyone that you are the right candidate for the job. Asking thoughtful (and helpful) questions before the interview helps you prepare for what comes next.
Want help acing your interview? Consider scheduling a personalized session with one of our career coaches!
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