What Questions Should I Ask in a Job Interview?
Last week I had a phone meeting with Hugo, who wanted to know what questions he should ask a potential future employer to ensure that he joined a good organization. To be completely honest, when I started considering the questions I would want to ask, I felt apprehensive, thinking “the questions I would ask might make potential employers uncomfortable, and I wouldn’t get the job.” Then I realized that the elegance of asking truly honest questions of a potential employer lies in the fact that an interviewer who doesn’t like my questions probably represents an organization that is not a good fit for me. If it was the right organization, the questions I asked might very well get me the job.
I have put together a list of questions that I would want to ask a potential employer (or potential colleagues) based on Human Systems leadership principles, and I tried to put them in order of how important they are to me. My priority would be a healthy organization – “healthy” meaning that the organization takes care of itself the way I would take care of my own body, mind, and spirit. More specifically, a healthy organization: 1) takes good care of its employees by creating an environment that is psychologically safe and nurturing; 2) ensures that all of its activities adhere to its primary mission, vision, and principles; and 3) supports the surrounding community.
I have provided some links to articles, workshops, and other Human Systems resources that elaborate on the concepts in the questions below.
- How do you ensure that the activities of this organization support the mission and vision?
- How does the organization manage diversity and ensure equity?
- How does this organization take care of its employees?
- What are the principles and ethics of the organization? How are they maintained?
- How do you manage conflict?
- Describe the organizational culture.
- How do you identify and prioritize the needs of your customers/clients/students/patients?
- What is your leadership philosophy?
- How does the organization support the surrounding community?
- Who are your stakeholders?
- How do you involve employees in decision-making processes?
- How do you support employees’ growth?
- How does the organization practice social justice?
- How do employees know what their role in the organization is?
- What are your thoughts about organizational transparency?
Aside from these questions, I would also want to talk to the supervisees of the role’s manager. According to multiple research studies, the biggest predictor of your happiness at work is your relationship with your direct supervisor. Even if their supervisees don’t feel comfortable being completely honest about their relationship with their manager, the manner in which they respond will tell me what I need to know. If they go on and on about what a great leader they are, how much they care about the organization and the employees, and what a fantastic sense of humor they have, that’s an excellent sign. If they say something like “um, they are very goal-oriented,” I might want to keep looking.
Keep in mind that these are the questions I would ask, in the order in which I would ask them. If your priority is finding a place that would allow you work flexibility and plenty of leave for your family and health needs, then you might want to ask about how the organization takes care of its employees before you ask about adherence to the mission.
If you are looking for a job, best of luck – and may you find the position that is the best fit for you and your values.