When I was younger, I used to have a very different approach toward job interviews. I used to see them as one-sided events where you had to prove your worthiness as a potential employee rather than as a two-way street.
As I’ve developed professionally, though, I came to realize that the point of interviewing shouldn’t just mean rote memorization, giving correct answers, and asking the right
questions. Interviews are also a rare opportunity to have a dialogue with an insider, one that should be taken advantage of to really understand whether the company you’re interviewing with is “right” for you.
Business school will teach you that you should always have questions for your interviewer in order to appear interested and enthusiastic about the company, and there are even lists of typical questions you can ask. Those are fine, but they’ll seldom get you to the crux of the matter, things like whether the company and group you’re interviewing with has good prospects, good leadership, and whether you’d enjoy working there.
I’ve found the best way to get to the heart of the matter is by asking the right probing and, yes, even atypical, daring questions. But the key to all this is that you must also have some answers to these same questions about the company that you’ve concluded yourself so that you have something to compare their responses to.
Having gone through interviews recently, here’s a list of things I did to prepare my questions and the type of questions I asked almost all my interviewers in one form or another. I happen to focus on questions related to “finance’s role in the company” because that’s my area, but you could easily customize it to whatever functional area you’re interested in:
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