Don’t Go To A Job Interview Without This Perfect Answer

Photographed by Nina Westervelt.
There are a number of job interview questions that you'll inevitably face. "What is your biggest weakness?" is a particularly tricky one, but perhaps the most important question is the last one: "Do you have any questions for me?" The point of this question is to allow you to sniff out if the job is right for you — the company isn't just interviewing you; you're also interviewing the company. Having questions shows that you are interested in the company, the position, and where you could potentially fit in. Not having any questions? Oftentimes, interviewers take it as a sign that you're just not that into the job — meaning you could be overlooked for someone who is. We interviewed eight badass women, all who've been both the interviewee and interviewer, to arm you with the best questions to ask. Read on, below. "What are some of the challenges you see in this role?"
"If I were being interviewed, this would allow me to get some insight into the role and see the downsides that they don’t mention in the job post. Then, you know more about what you’re up against and if it’s the right fit for you. It’s also an opportunity to talk about how you would face those challenges and reinforce that you’re the right candidate and that you’re not afraid of a challenge. It shows that you’re thinking critically, and that is something every employer wants on their team: someone who thinks critically about decisions, situations, and understands how to communicate.” — Jami Stigliano, music executive

"What's the company culture and the vision?"

"Especially with all the amazing startups and older companies trying to reinvent themselves, it's important to understand where the company is going in the next two years, five years, and so on. Are they planning to grow, and how? Vision and company culture go hand in hand — the company's growth has to be supported by the company culture. Does it have a very entrepreneurial spirit? Or, is it a set career path? One isn't better than the other, but some people really crave structure and other people are entrepreneurial in spirit, who want to work hard and put in long hours to excel faster. "I also like to have something bounced back to me — 'Oh you mentioned this, can you tell me more about it?' Or, throw me a question I'm not expecting. It's kind of refreshing because it shows they are confident and it feels like they want to get to know me as well. There's a personal element to that." — Lillian Yim, vice president of merchandising, "What does this role mean for the company?"
“If I’m being interviewed, I’d like to know where they see the position I’m interviewing for evolving, and whether there is a possibility for it to evolve into a leadership role, or a possibility to move laterally. Likewise, if I’m interviewing somebody, I’d want them to ask, ‘What is the most important thing I can help you with over the next couple of months?’ It shows that they are interested in moving the company forward and they’re interested in learning what is expected of them and how their success will be measured.” — Diana Murakhovskaya, co-founder of Monarq

"What is the long-term vision of the company and what is the one thing you would improve?"

“This is critical, because it tells you as an interviewer that the candidate is thinking beyond the job, and thinking about the company in the long term. For the interviewee, the question shows you what the strategic vision of the company is. Sometimes, you forget that the company itself is being interviewed and people applying for jobs have to ask, 'Is this the right fit for me?'” — Maria Pousa, SVP global marketing of Mediaocean "What's the roadmap for growth?"
"I'm particularly ambitious, so I'd want to know what the next step for my growth is, as well as the company. They go hand in hand. It's important to know holistically what the company's growth plan is and what the individual's path within that company is. I also really like it when people ask me questions that show they were present, engaged, and did research before the interview. Someone told me it's much better to be interested than interesting, so I love it when people ask about how they can be a productive, valued member in our team." — Jessica Rodriguez, VP and partner, Wagstaff Worldwide "What was your strategy behind _____?"
"Since I've done mostly media jobs, I always look at the site and look for ways to improve what they've done. This is an interesting conversation starter that shows that you looked at their product, that you think critically, and that you offer value to their company. I also always end every single interview asking how my interviewer got to where they are now. It helps initiate bonding, especially if you're talking to a future coworker, and also ends the interview on a positive note. I have gotten every job with these two questions." — Julie Leung, social media marketing manager at Cork Books "What’s the day-to-day of this position?"
“People get stuck on titles, but I always want to know what the day-to-day of the job is. Is it all meetings? What will I actually be doing? In reality, a job can be very different from what is expected.” — Irene Ryabaya, co-founder at Monarq "No questions."
“I know there’s a school of thought that believes there should always be some questions at the end, which would be insightful. But, from my point of view, I would prefer having that insight come in the course of the conversation, not at the end. An interview should be a two-way street. "If you’ve already had questions prepared beforehand, you may have already asked them during the interview, so then you’d look silly if you ask a redundant question. It’s better at that point, if you really think you’ve exhausted the topic, to say, 'No, I really don’t. You’ve answered all the questions I’ve prepared ahead of time. Do you have any questions for me?'” — Kim, former executive at IBM

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