The interview is coming to a close, and it has gone well. Points have been made in the most articulate fashion. Chemistry has been established. The wrap-up is near and then the interviewer asks, “what questions do you have of me?” An eerie and uncomfortable silence befalls the room. You don’t know what to ask, you scramble to say something smart and the best you can come up with is “when are you looking for this position to start?” If only you had prepared questions in advance.
Nothing makes the candidate look better at the end of an interview then asking a few insightful questions of the interviewer that delves into the company. At a minimum it shows genuine interest. Clearly you do not have time to ask all 48 questions, but selecting a half dozen questions will not only make you more comfortable with how the organization operates, but ironically will cast yourself as a extraordinarily insightful candidate.
Depending on the position that is currently open at the company, a candidate may ask questions that are the most prudent for their background and expertise. In some cases, having all 48 questions in front of you allows for the nimbleness of “going with the flow” of the interview. If culture is a key concern for the interviewer, focus your questions there. If financial acumen is a hot button, look for relevant questions to gain a better understanding.
In today’s tough employment market, creating any advantage may make all the difference between getting hired or passed over.
- What are some of your unique policies?
- Please describe your benefits programs?
- How is the organization structured?
- Please describe the decision making process at your company.
- How would you describe the level of autonomy here?
- Who determines the strategic plans at the company?
CAPITAL MANAGEMENT (CAPEX)
- What is your corporate philosophy on the use of capital?
- What ROI (Return On Investment) do you target for your capital investments?
- Please describe your capital budget highlights to me.
- Who are the chief competitors in your industry?
- What outside influence do you feel will impact your business?
- How have you proactively fended off a competitive front?
- If you had to name one, what would be your core competency?
- How are the strategic goals/capital aligned to support?
- What would be secondary competencies supported?
- How would you describe the culture at the organization?
- Has the culture shifted in focus in the last three years?
- What type of communication policy do you have?
- Please share the financial results of the company last year.
- What is the greatest financial hurdle this company faces?
- What are the financial goals that this company has?
- What are the growth plans of the organization?
- How has this organization demonstrated the ability to grow?
- What changes would have to take place for it to grow?
- Please name three key initiatives that this company is supporting.
- How open is the company to the development of new initiatives?
- Please provide an example of a new initiative that worked.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPI’S)
- What are the measurements that this company for success?
- How often does the company review its KPI’s?
- How entrenched are the KPI’s throughout the organization?
OPERATIONAL EXPENSE (OPEX)
- What are some of examples of the way you manage OPEX?
- How would you describe your overall philosophy with OPEX?
- What are the key OPEX items that you control?
- What type of people are attracted to your company?
- What is the tenure of the people at the company?
- What are the key reasons people want to work here?
- What is the positioning statement of the company?
- How well is this positioning statement adhered to and marketed?
- If you had to improve your mission statement, how would you do it?
- How would you characterize your use of technology here?
- What are some of the items that you currently utilize?
- What are the technology plans for the upcoming year?
- What fundamentals, cycles and trends influence your thesis?
- How has your business thesis held its course?
- What is the end-game of your thesis?
- What are the key vendors in your industry?
- How much influence do they have in determining your results?
- How would you describe your relationship with your vendors?
If you can work as many of these questions into your interview, you will be all the better in assessing your future employer. Not to mention that the employer will have a greater insight into your preparation for the interview and how that may ultimately lead to your future performance. Competition is fierce in the marketplace, prepare in advance for the close and come across as a rockstar!
John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc., a strategic planning and marketing services firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience and general retail industries. With more than 20 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written two step-by-step manuals, Local Store Marketing Manual for Retailers and Grand Opening Manual for Retailers, which are available at www.graycatenterprises.com.