What Questions Do You Have For Me?

If you’ve had any interview training at all, you know you’re supposed to leave time at the end of the interview to ask, “What questions do you have for me?”

Most candidates don’t know what to ask. Some candidates ask about benefits, which might be okay. Some candidates don’t ask anything because they don’t know what to ask, or because they think you haven’t left enough time, or because they don’t have questions right now. (I have an upcoming post with some suggestions!) Don’t ding the candidates because they don’t have questions right now.

If you’ve done a great job asking behavior-description questions, the candidate may not have considered questions for you in advance. You can offer some of these pre-generated questions and answers:

  1. “You might be wondering how we run our projects. We use an agile approach, and …” and then go on to describe your approach. If you don’t use agile, don’t say you do. If you use hardening sprints, say so. Describe what you do. Don’t sugar-coat anything! Tell the truth. In the same way you don’t want candidates to lie on their resumes, don’t lie about the way you run projects.
  2. If you live in a major city, such as New York, San Francisco, or Boston, and commuting could be an issue, you might want to address that. “You might wonder how we subsidize or organize our commuting. We have a commuting program, where we subsidize parking at suburban lots, and offer T passes …” and then you describe the program. Or, if Harriet from HR is going to address that, explain that.
  3. Discuss how people treat each other. “This team has lively discussions, and the way they treat each other is special. They call each other ‘brain-dead’, but they mean it in a special way. ‘Brain-dead’ means they haven’t though of outlandish ideas; they have only thought of plain-old-vanilla ideas. I thought I would let you know before you go to lunch with these two people. If you think they are testing your ideas to see how wacko your ideas are, these two guys probably are. Don’t be afraid to brainstorm with them. They are very nice, and like to brainstorm on everything. They decide when they are done brainstorming, and then they try something. Have a nice lunch!” Does the candidate ask you questions? Look horrified? happy?

These prep questions are a form of cultural fit questions. You can ask them during the interview, on the way to the next interview, during lunch, or prepping a candidate for lunch.

Make sure you ask, “What questions do you have for me?” If the candidate has questions, great. If the candidate doesn’t, consider one of these, or any of the other aspects of cultural fit. You’ll have a better idea about how the candidate fits into your organization.

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2 Comments

  1. Kumar B.

    Another question interviewer can raise is “Do you want to know more about company and what products/services we build/sell”? If company intro is not already covered in the beginning or another interview, this is great way to share the company details and also understand whether candidate has researched the company. I’ve been surprised many times where candidates didn’t really have any idea what company does or sells. These are people who did really good in the interview process. I look it as an opportunity to educate them about company and hopefully get them excited about the job.

    Reply
  2. Gurney Alex

    Last fall I had a series of interviews with different people in the same company. Three of them offered the “what questions do you have for me” and I got to ask three times a fairly basic questions about how work was organized and responsibilities were shared among the various staff, to get a better idea of how I would fit in. To my great surprise, I got 3 contradictory answers. Which made me lift an eyebrow, and think hard on my way home.

    I finally chose not to accept the job offer, because obviously at least 2 of my interviewers were telling lies (and the situation depicted in the lies was not even rosy…)

    When getting the candidate to ask his questions, you definitely want be open and frank in your answers. I can accept a difficult situation, and challenges, etc. But I need to be able to trust my future employer and colleagues.

    Reply

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  1. Five Blogs – 8 June 2012 « 5blogs - [...] What Questions Do You Have For Me Written by: Johanna Rothman [...]
  2. Ask Questions of the Hiring Manager and the Interview Team | Hiring Technical People - [...] In an interview, you have an opportunity to ask questions. Good interviewers will ask What Questions Do You Have…

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