Until our society discovers another way to assess a candidate’s suitability for employment within a company, there will always be job interviews. For the employer, the purpose is to validate a candidate’s background, experience, qualifications, and credentials, and to determine if he/she is suited for the organization’s mission, objectives, and culture. For the job seeker, the interview is the best opportunity he/she has to sell himself to the company or hiring manager and gather enough information to determine if the company is a suitable fit.

I give advice all the time to job seekers regarding interview questions, how to dress, and how to handle certain kinds of delicate situations that can often arise during these meetings. I’ve even shared best-practice videos on how to handle some of these interview questions. All in all, the best advice I can truly offer is “To thine own self be true.”

There are common questions around professional background, education, strengths, weaknesses, goals, and salary that candidates should always prepare for, but in the end, the job seeker should always walk into an interview, prepared to demonstrate his/her best, but to also exit the interview knowing whether or not it’s the kind of company and environment that supports his/her personal and professional goals.

Whether a job seeker is in the enviable position of deciding between competing offers or only one job offer, it’s important to feel confident that the right decision is made. Just because an offer is made, doesn’t mean one must accept it. Career management is about an individual accepting the best job offer for him; not accepting the first job offer that comes along.

One portion on the job interview that candidates typically dread is the part where the employer/hiring manager is finished speaking and he/she asks, “So what questions do you have for me?” Take this opportunity to extend the discussion and ask some specific questions that will help gage if (1) Do you even have a chance at working at the company? (2) Is this job/company going to be a good match for your professional/personal goals? (3) Is it the kind of environment where you can thrive?

 These may help get you started:

  1. In what ways do you see me being able to immediately contribute to the company?
  2. Where do you think my biggest learning curve would be?
  3. What kinds of structures or programs are in place to ensure that I am consistently learning and contributing to the mission/goals of the company?
  4. If you were me, what would be the first thing you would do to ensure your success in this position?
  5. What do you enjoy the most about working for this company?
  6. What do you enjoy the least about working for this company?

Job seekers who can ask these questions during an interview and receive the answers they are looking for, should be able to leave the interview knowing if it’s one they can jump for joy over when an offer comes in, or confidently put it behind them and not fret over wondering whether or not an opportunity was wasted.