10 Questions You Should Ask the Hiring Manager in a Job Interview

10 Questions You Should Ask the Hiring Manager in a Job Interview

You’re interviewing for a new role, and every interaction counts. Of course, you’ve taken the time to interview and are prepared to negotiate (if you haven’t already done so, check out our guide on negotiating comp), but have you considered the importance of asking good questions to the hiring manager?

This is important. The hiring manager will learn a lot about the questions you ask them during the interview process, and you, too, can learn more about the company and the role. So, don’t overlook this opportunity.

Lastly, asking the wrong questions can give off a perception you want to avoid. In this article, we’ll break down:

  • What questions you should ask the hiring manager during the interview
  • What questions you should avoid asking the hiring manager during the interview

What questions you should ask the hiring manager 

  1. How would you describe the ideal candidate for this role?

There are two benefits to this question: 1) you learn more about the qualifications and candidate profile for the role and decide you’re not the right fit (this will save you time), or 2) you perfectly match the profile that the hiring manager described and can explain how your skills and experience meet their expectations.

  1. Can you tell me about the history of this role? Is it a new role?

There are a few things to unpack here. If they explain the history of the role, and you see a trend of turnover – that might be a red flag to ask about. You wouldn’t want to be the next person in the revolving door, so proceed cautiously.

If it’s a replacement, you can politely ask the hiring manager why the previous person left – whether it was voluntary or involuntary. They might not be able to share details with you, but more times than not, they will.

Lastly, if it’s a new role, that may represent an exciting opportunity for growth within the company. New roles are typically representative of a growing company.

  1. What are the goals and expectations of this role?

In many cases, the hiring manager or recruiter will preemptively go over this with you. If they do, you should not ask again because it will seem like you weren’t paying attention. 

This is an important consideration – you should know how your success will be measured before committing. 

  1. How would you describe your leadership style?

The majority of your interactions will likely be with your manager. You must align with their leadership style, or else you might not be happy. I’m always a bit suspicious if they don’t have a clear answer to this question – it makes me think they’re junior or are more of a “manager” than a leader.

  1. How would you describe the culture of the team? How about the company?

Culture can vary drastically from one company to the next. And it should be no surprise that the answer to this question alone won’t give you the full picture. You should pay attention to the attitudes and beliefs of each individual in the interview process and see how they uniquely respond to this question.

  1. What’s the good, the bad, and the ugly?

I love this question. We know it’s not all butterflies and rainbows at every company. Asking this question is a forcing function to share the not-so-fun parts of the job or the company. This might give you a level of detail that makes you consider one company over the other.

It will also give you a taste of how transparent and vulnerable the hiring manager is. If they say everything is perfect and fail to share any bad or ugly parts of the company/role, that’s a red flag.

  1. What are the two biggest challenges about this role?

Not one, but two. Most interviewers will have one challenge prepared, but by asking them for two, you’re more likely to get a raw answer (versus the canned answer they planned to tell you). Again, you want to know the awesome and gruesome stuff to help you make the right decision.

  1. What are the two best parts about the role?

Let’s take that last question and turn it into some positives. Take a close look at their tone, enthusiasm, and genuineness. If they love what they do, it should be easy for them to talk about one, two, or even five highlights. Do you feel a common interest in why they love the job?

  1. What hesitations do you have about me or my qualifications?

There’s an important element to how you ask this. By asking “What hesitations?” versus “Do you have any hesitations?”, you’re not giving them an easy out by saying “no.” If there are hesitations, you’d like to take the time to address them while you’re still interviewing, so ask the tough, open-ended questions so you can get genuine answers.

  1. What are the next steps? When can I expect to hear back?

Keeping a pulse on the timeline is critical so you know when to follow up. If they tell you that you should hear back in 3 days, and you don’t within that timeframe, you should be proactive and follow up with them.

What questions you should avoid asking the hiring manager

  1. What is the severance package?

We have never had someone ask us this, and it hasn’t led to an early termination. If somebody is already wondering what they’ll get paid if they get terminated, that’s a red flag. Don’t ask.

  1. What does the PIP or performance process look like?

Again, if you ask about topics that could lead to a potential termination, you’re asking the wrong questions. This will be seen as a risk and a red flag. Don’t ask it.

  1. Will I have to take a drug test?

If you ask this question, the hiring manager will wonder about your ability to pass a drug test. It’s a red flag. Don’t ask it.

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