Questions to ask your future boss and colleagues

Some job interviews result in meeting the group manager and team that you’ll be working for. Here’s a useful collection of questions to ask.

  1. Could you explain the company’s organizational structure?
  2. What is the organization’s plan for the next five years, and how does this department or division fit in?
  3. What specific skills from the person you hire would make your life easier?
  4. Will we be expanding or bringing on new products or new services that I should be aware of?
  5. What are some of the problems that keep you up at night?
  6. What are some of the skills and abilities you see as necessary for someone to succeed in this job?
  7. What would be a surprising but positive thing the new person could do in first 90 days?
  8. What challenges might I encounter if I take on this position?
  9. How does upper management perceive this part of the organization?
  10. What are your major concerns that need to be immediately addressed in this job?
  11. What do you see as the most important opportunities for improvement in the area I hope to join?
  12. What are the attributes of the job that you’d like to see improved?
  13. What are the organization’s three most important goals?
  14. What is your company’s policy on attending seminars, workshops, and other training opportunities?
  15. How do you see this position impacting the achievement of those goals?
  16. What is the budget this department operates with?
  17. What attracted you to working for this organization?
  18. What committees and task forces will I be expected to participate in?
  19. What have you liked most about working here?
  20. How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom?
  21. What are the day-to-day responsibilities I’ll be assigned?
  22. Are there any weaknesses in the department that you are particularly looking to improve?
  23. What are the department’s goals, and how do they align with the company’s mission?
  24. What are the company’s strengths and weaknesses compared with the competition? (name one or two companies)
  25. How does the reporting structure work here? What are the preferred means of communication?
  26. What goals or objectives need to be achieved in the next six months?
  27. Can you give me an ideal of the typical day and workload and the special demands the job has?
  28. This a new position. What are the forces that suggested the need for this position?
  29. What areas of the job would you like to see improvement in with regard to the person who was most recently performing these duties?
  30. From all I can see, I’d really like to work here, and I believe I can add considerable value to the company. What’s the next step in the selection process?
  31. How does this position contribute to the company’s goals, productivity, or profits?
  32. What is currently the most pressing business issue or problem for the company or department?
  33. Would you describe for me the actions of a person who previously achieved success in this position?
  34. Would you describe for me the action of a person who previously performed poorly in this position?
  35. How would you describe your own management style?
  36. What are the most important traits you look for in a subordinate?
  37. How do you like your subordinates to communicate with you?
  38. What personal qualities or characteristics do you most value?
  39. Could you describe to me your typical management style and the type of employee who works well with you?
  40. Corporate culture is very important, but it’s usually hard to define until one violates it. What is one thing an employee might do here that would be perceived as a violation of the company’s culture?
  41. How would you characterize the organization? What are its principal values? What are its greatest challenges?
  42. How would you describe the experience of working here?
  43. If I were to be employed here, what one piece of wisdom would you want me to incorporate into my work life?
  44. What are a couple of misconceptions people have about the company?
  45. Work-life balance is an issue of retention as well as productivity.
  46. Can you talk about your own view of how to navigate the tensions between getting work done and encouraging healthy lives outside the office?
  47. How does the company support and promote personal and professional growth?
  48. What types of people seem to excel here?
  49. Every company contends with office politics. It’s a fact of life because politics is about people working together. Can you give me some exams of how politics plays out in this company?
  50. What have I yet to learn about this company and opportunity that I still need to know?
  51. I’m delighted to know that teamwork is highly regarded. But evaluating performance of teams can be difficult. How does the company evaluate team performance? For example, does it employ 360-degree feedback programs?
  52. What are the organization’s primary financial objectives and performance measures?
  53. What operating guidelines or metrics are used to monitor the planning process and the results?
  54. To what extent are those objectives uniform across all product lines?
  55. How does the company balance short-term performance versus long-term success?
  56. What kinds of formal strategic planning systems, if any, are in place?
  57. Can you describe the nature of the planning process and how decisions concerning the budgeting process are made?
  58. Can you identify the key corporate participants in the planning process?
  59. How often and in what form does the company report its results internally to its employees?
  60. In the recent past, how has the company acknowledged and rewarded outstanding performance?
  61. What are the repercussions of having a significant variance to the operating plan?
  62. Are budgeting decisions typically made at corporate headquarters, or are the decisions made in a more decentralized fashion?
  63. I’m glad to hear that I will be part of a team. Let me ask about reward structures for teams. Does the company have a formal team-based compensation process?
  64. Is the company more of an early adapter of technology, a first mover, or is it content to first let other companies work the bugs out and then implement a more mature version of the technology?
  65. How does the company contribute to thought leadership in its market?
  66. How advanced is the company’s commitment to knowledge management?
  67. I was pleased to hear you describe the company’s branding strategy.
  68. How does branding fit into the overall marketing mix?
  69. How does this position contribute to the company’s goals, productivity, or profits?
  70. According to (name source), your principal competitor, Brand X, is the best-selling product in the space. What does Brand X do better than your product?
  71. Business Week magazine ranks the company second (or whatever) in its industry. Does this position represent a change from where it was a few years ago?
  72. How accessible is the CEO (name him or her) to people at my level of the organization?
  73. Does the CEO (name him or her) publish his or her email address?
  74. I understand that the CEO is really approachable. Are there ground rules for approaching him or her?
  75. Staff development is mentioned in your annual report as a measure on which executives are evaluated. What kinds of training experiences might I expect?
  76. Is the department a profit center?
  77. Can you please tell me about the people who will look to me for supervision?
  78. Would I encounter any coworker or staff person who’s proved to be a problem in the past?
  79. What happened to the person who previously held this job?
  80. The incumbent was dismissed? How could the problems have been avoided?
  81. The incumbent was promoted? I’m delighted to hear it. Would it be possible for me to talk to him or her?
  82. What is the company customer-service philosophy?
  83. Could you tell me about a time when the team/company went out of its way to provide knock-your-socks-off service?
  84. The best companies rely on rich customer data to fuel personalized content and services. How is the company doing in personalizing its offerings?
  85. Customers are expecting companies to protect their data. Does the company have a privacy policy for its Web initiatives, and how does the company balance the momentum for ever-increasing personalization with rising concerns for privacy?
  86. How empowered are employees? How much of the company’s money can your people (including the ones with single-digit pay grades) spend on their own recognizance to satisfy a customer or address a work-process issue?
  87. How often would I come into direct contact with real, living, breathing, paying customers?
  88. What are the success factors that will tell you if the decision to bring me on board was the right one?
  89. To make our working relationship successful - something we both want - we’ll need to be sure we have good chemistry together. How might we determine this, and then what action would you see us engage in to build that relationship?
  90. If you and I were developing some sort of philosophical difference, how would you want to go about resolving it?
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One Comment on Questions to ask your future boss and colleagues

  1. Jamille Twedt
    Posted 6/13/2007 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    What about questions you can ask a person applying for a management position and you are involved in the “new boss” selection/interview boss?

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