The 6 Questions To Ask Your Potential New Employer Before You Say Yes
September 03, 2016
It can be all too easy to get swept up with enthusiasm about a new opportunity, and forget to ask a few key questions in the final stage of your interview.
No matter which job you’re applying for in the life sciences field, these final questions can not only consolidate your reputation as a candidate, but also give you a much clearer picture of the job ahead of you.
For example, many interviewees focus heavily on the job description, company reputation, and salary when deciding whether to take a job, but might feel awkward making inquiries into the company culture- such as key matters of innovation culture, opportunity for autonomy, expectations of success, and whether the company has a flat organisational structure or top-down hierarchy.
These factors can make a tremendous difference to how well you will perform, and how happy you will be in the role; particularly if you’re one of the many life science professionals who seek a good level of autonomy and opportunity to innovate.
In order to be sure you’re making the right decision, you need to know as much as you possibly can before saying yes.
Here are six of the most powerful questions to ask during the interview that will both mark you out as a strong candidate and gauge important information about what the company will be like to work for.
1. What do you think success looks like in this role, and how will my success be measured?
This is a clever dual-purpose question, because it clarifies their exact expectations and gives you a clear road path to success, while also marking you out to the interviewer as someone who is interested in getting feedback.
You might break this question down further by asking about certain aspects that are of priority to you, such as ‘in order to succeed, who will I need to work with’, or ‘what deadlines will I need to meet to succeed?’
2. What’s the potential for development and career advancement within the company if I succeed in this role?
Remember, the role you’re applying for may be fantastic for your career right now, but what room for upward or sideways movement is there in the future? What training and development programs are there in place, and does the company have a reputation for rapid promotion for high performers?
3. What’s the key issue you’re facing that you would like me to address, and do you have any particular direction you’d like me to take?
This question is another clever one, as the degree of ease and openness with which the interviewer answers your question will probably give you an idea of whether the company is upfront about admitting problems.
The second half of the question will also give you an idea about how much autonomy you’ll have in dealing with issues, should they arise.
4. Can you tell me why any other hires haven’t worked out- if you think it’s relevant?
This can be a fascinating and illuminating question to ask, as you might find answers that could inform your ultimate choice. A comment like ‘she wanted complete autonomy and didn’t take direction’, might indicate that this is a company that focuses heavily on teamwork rather than individual autonomy.
‘He reacted defensively to feedback and didn’t act on it despite regular performance reviews requesting improvement’ indicates a strong feedback culture.
‘They resigned because the workload conflicted with their parenting obligations’ might indicate a poor work-life balance. ‘They just never settled in’ might indicate that the company onboarding process isn’t effective or there are personality issues within the team. Again, the willingness with which the hiring manager answers this question often reveals a lot about the company’s openness and willingness to improve.
5. How does the business share information, and what is the reporting structure?
This dual question gives more information about how the company communicates with its employees, and how you’ll need to communicate with and report to its senior figures in return.
You’ll also get a better feel as to the hierarchy culture of the company- whether it’s a more strict ‘top down’ structure which guards information in its senior ranks, or a flatter company structure where phrases like ‘open door’ policy are used. You may also get a better picture of the level of autonomy you can expect.
6. Can you take me through an average day in the job?
This question requires the interviewer to really walk you through your role in a way that makes both you and them envision you in the job, while giving you a lot more information about the daily responsibilities of the role. This question is where it becomes rapidly apparent if the exciting projects mentioned in the job spec are actually just a small part of a wider role, or whether the job has good variety day-to-day.
The way you ask questions during the interview is easily as important as how you answer the questions put to you. Seeking questions like these mark you out as bright, ambitious, and keen to know how you’ll succeed in the role.
They also furnish you with a deeper understanding of the company culture and the day-to-day realities of the role, which ultimately will help you to say yes or no to the opportunity.