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There is something absolutely essential that we tend to overlook when it comes to interviews. It’s simple but it can have a massive impact on your career; ask questions; interview the interviewer. Don’t walk into an interview with your tail between your legs and your hands outstretched as if to say; ‘please sir can I have some more?’. Of course, walking into an interview oozing arrogance won’t do you any favours either, but if you manage to show that you are interested, excited and enthusiastic you have an advantage over other candidates. What questions should you ask though? I’m glad you asked!

Interview Question 1: Why Does This Job Exist?

Knowing the purpose of the role you are applying for is essential. What is the bigger picture? What needs to be achieved in the long term? What needs to be achieved in the short term? If you are applying for a new role within a company, ideally you want to have a good grasp on what is expected of you, whether these expectations are realistic and whether they line up with your skill set and career goals. While the answers themselves are important, more important still is aligning your ambitions and preferred growth path. This conversation should give you a clearer idea of the interviewer’s attitude towards both staff and tech.

Interview Question 2: Tell Me About the Team I’ll be Working With

If you’re expected to work as part of a team this is an essential question. You need to know how the team function, what kind of people they are and even how they deal with conflict and success. Getting a better understanding of who you will be working directly with will ensure your success if you are offered the position.

Interview Question 3: Why did the Previous Employee Leave This Position?

While your potential employee probably won’t divulge sensitive information, you might be able to read between the lines to figure out whether something is amiss and get an idea about the shortcomings of the organisation. It’s also helpful to know whether they held the position for a long time, whether they left for personal reasons or if they simply absconded.

Interview Question 4: What is the Next Project?

In an interview, potential employers often will try lure you in with a discussion of their current and latest projects which sound exciting and challenging but what comes next? Whether you are taking contractual work or not, this question will affect your future within the organisation. If there’s nothing lined up do you have any job security or the opportunity to extend your contract? Ideally you want to keep an eye on the future.

Interview Question 5: What is the Potential Career Growth?

Whether you are the type of person who likes to challenge yourself to grow and climb the ladder, or you want to stay in your lane and keep it safe; you need to know what it is that your potential employer has in mind. If your career plans don’t align, maybe give this one a skip.

Interview Question 6: What is Your Staff Retention Policy?

You want to know that you will be entering into a fair and balanced relationship with your employer. Employers who are experiencing mass resignations should be asking some serious questions about their organisation and policies. Developing a successful employee retention strategy should be high on management’s list of priorities. Employers who struggle to empathise with their employees will often find themselves in hot water when the going gets tough.

Staff retention can be narrowed down into several strategies which, when combined, go a long way to keeping your people happy and motivated. It starts with thorough orientation and onboarding, mentorship, employee training, fostering teamwork and celebrating milestones among other things.

Interview Question 7: What is Your Staff Turnover?

Does this company have a high staff turnover? Is your dream job too good to be true? Why do people come and go so quickly? A high turnover is a hindrance to the entire organisation, hiring new staff instead of retaining good staff is both costly and avoidable. Ideally managers should keep an open line of communication and act before problems begin to fester. Before you jump to conclusions, remember that there could be some valid reasons for a high staff turnover, so be sure to find out. Are the top performers leaving or is it the poor performers who are leaving?

Interview Question 8: What is Your Staff Attrition Rate?

Not to be confused with staff turnover, staff attrition occurs when an organisation doesn’t replace the staff member who has left, possibly because the role within the company no longer exists, due to a death or even retirement. Attrition can either deplete a companies’ valuable resources or it can be an opportunity to inject fresh talent into the organisation. A staff attrition rate can be closely linked to the companies’ business goals and plans for the future, make sure you fit into these goals.

(I think that’s too complicated a combination. You’ll lose people here. This is why I encourage just one question – Talk to me about your attrition rate. If they weren’t replacing people who left, the Dev wouldn’t have the interview)

Interview Question 9: What are the Business Objectives?

While understanding a company’s entire business plan may not be achievable, understanding their goals, objectives and their ethos definitely is. Beyond the most obvious objectives such as maintaining profitability, what are the overriding themes which ultimately affect how you will work within the company in the short, medium and the long term? Is the focus on developing high-quality software, or is it on ensuring the timeous delivery above all else? With a list of top objectives, you can see the company from a broader perspective rather than from one small corner of the room.

Interview Question 10: What are Your Concerns About me?

Better than leaving things unsaid, address them there and then. If your potential employer is worried about anything you have said, your skillset, something on your CV or any of your references; find out while you have the chance to explain yourself better or to understand why you could be rejected for the position. You might clear up any misunderstandings or you could refine your interview skills going forward.

Of course, there is an endless list of questions you should ask but you can tailor them to your needs and your potential position within the company. The interviewer will be happy to see that you have questions and answer them as thoroughly as they can, it’s always a good sign if someone is engaged and interested during the interview. In fact, whether you ask questions or not could make or break the entire interview.