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Published on: Job Hunting

Interviewing Your Interviewer by Oluwatoyin Puddicombe, ACIPM, SPHRi

Interviewing Your Interviewer.

We have often heard that an interview is a two-way street, but if we are honest, a lot of us still don’t believe it.

Many a time I have rounded up an interview by asking the candidate, “Do you have any questions for me?” and was met with a quick and emphatic “No”!

In fact, candidates tend to think of questioning their interviewer as a one-way street to talking yourself out of a job! I mean, why jeopardize your chances, particularly when it seems everything had gone well so far, right?

Maybe not.

According to a survey conducted by ThriveMap, a London-based pre-hire assessment firm in 2019, 48% of workers left their job because it wasn’t what they thought it would be. When asked what differed from expectations, respondents cited job responsibilities (59%), working environment (42%), work hours or shift patterns (35%), and salary or benefits (29%). (

These figures will most likely have changed with the advent of remote work and the “gig” economy. However, it is evident that getting the job is only the first hurdle. You still must understand what is expected from you, adapt to the company culture, get along with your co-workers, and deliver on the job.

So, the clearer the picture you have about what you can expect from working in that organization, the better you set yourself up for success in the role…and you can do this by interviewing the person who is interviewing you.

Asking the right questions makes you look good in the following ways:

  1. It shows you are interested in the job because you took your time to develop the questions.
  2.  It shows you have researched the organization. Organizations are attracted to candidates who understand their focus and align with their mission or vision. Imagine they opened an office in a new location, and you asked them why they made that move while offering one or two strategic reasons you think they may have done it (closeness to raw materials or a friendly economic environment for example). It immediately gives a positive perception of you and makes you a memorable candidate.
  3.  It shows that you are intelligent. It positions you as an independent thinker and someone who looks beyond the surface of things.
  4.  It helps you decide if you would like to take the offer. The questions help you gather information about important things like the organization’s culture and if the job is a good fit for you.

 Still think interviewing your interviewer might be a bit of a minefield? Here are a few areas you can touch on that can elevate your status before the interview panel:

Growth prospects within the organization: This suggests you are taking a long-term view of working with them. Companies typically do not like hiring for the same roles over and over, so this could appeal to them. For example, “What is the career path for this role?” “Are there opportunities for training and progression within the role/company?”

Questions about Your Team and Manager: Where the line manager is a panelist, it is valuable to understand the scope of the work you would be doing and how he or she manages their direct reports. “How would you describe your preferred work style?” “What is my role within the team?”

If you know who they are prior to the interview, look them up on LinkedIn to gain more insights into their experience and how they are perceived in the industry. The endorsement section in their LinkedIn profile could help.

Their Perception of Success on the job: Books like “The First 90 Days” by Michael D. Watkins will tell you that it might be a mistake to believe that the factors that helped you shine in your previous role would do the same in a new one. It is therefore important to understand what they would consider as being effective in your role so that you can determine if that works for you as well. “What are your main goals for the first 3 months?” “What would you say are the biggest challenges of this job?”

A Typical Day on the Job: On the surface, it seems like a simple question. However, the response can help determine if the job description and the actual work align. It may throw up some red flags if how day-to-day expectations sound different from what you had discussed so far. Examples of questions you can ask are “What does a typical day on the job look like?” “Which departments would I be working with the most?”

Ultimately, interviewing your interviewer means you are looking out for yourself and following the playbook of your career aspirations. You want to work with organizations whose brands you would be proud to represent as an employee and whose presence on your resume would enhance your future job prospects.

Even if the questions you planned to ask, (and planning them is crucial), have been answered during the interview, still, state what your questions were and their responses to them. It opens the way to confirm your understanding of their responses or have them elaborate where necessary.

Interviewing Your Interviewer

About the Author

Helps professionals find their career fit through Coaching, Capacity Building& Connecting| Creator, Toyin Talks Talent (T3)| Senior Manager HR| Talent.

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