What questions should you ask the employer in an interview?

Daria Kuznetsova, IT recruiter for Allegians, recommends which questions to ask an HR specialist (and when), which ones to ask the hiring manager, and which ones to skip.

IT recruiter Darya Kuznetsova

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The first stage

— Initially, it is very important to show interest in the position and, in principle, ask questions. If you have no questions, then you are not very interested. If this is a really impressive vacancy, and you want the position, then you can't be passive. On the contrary, you need to show maximum engagement at every stage of the process and understand that it is not only you who is chosen: you also choose, and you have the right to ask questions. To ask them, you need to prepare.

What not to ask

— At the first stage, you definitely should not ask strange questions like: "Will you let me go to the doctor?" "What will happen if my child gets sick?" etc. Questions of this kind show a lack of interest in the product, company, and project. They may be appropriate at the offer stage, but not earlier.

A question like "What does the company do?" is also not appropriate. It looks like you don't know where you're interviewing.

The question of salary is a very delicate point. HR always asks what your salary expectations are. To prepare, it is necessary to monitor the market in advance, identify the salary tiers for this position, and name an amount that is comfortable for you. It's not recommended to ask about the salary yourself. It is extremely rare to find situations when you have reached an offer, but your salary expectations have not been specified. If this happens, then you need to carefully ask which salary tier is provided for this vacancy.

What to ask

— To avoid foolish interview questions, it is better to study all available information about the company in advance. Use Wikipedia, news about the company, LinkedIn, etc., to find out: who the founder is, who are the main shareholder and investor, how many people work in the company, where the offices are located, etc. If you do not know the obvious things, it conveys that the company is not interesting to you.

So, what questions should you ask at the first stage? It is better to ask HR about the company, values, and work schedule.

  1. What work schedule is accepted in the company? Hybrid or not, remote or in-office? I once neglected to specify this and went to work for a large international company. There was a fixed work schedule starting at 8:30 a.m. with a visit to the office. I'm a night owl, and it was as hard as possible for me. It was really stressful, and if I had known the schedule beforehand, I wouldn't have accepted the position. Most people think that everyone in IT works on a flexible schedule and remotely, but this is far from the case. Strict corporations with regimented rules still exist. As a result, this is a very important question to help you understand whether the company is suitable for you or not.
  2. Is weekend work required? You ask this question not because you don't want to work and are lazy, but to understand what the expectation is in the company and whether it is a permanent practice or not.
  3. Why did this vacancy appear? This may be a new vacancy, or maybe the previous employee left on their own or was fired. If it is acceptable to do so in your job market, you can try to find out what the reasons were, and what exactly this employee did not cope with, did, or failed to do that resulted in termination. If this information is available, it can help you understand whether it was the employee's fault or a mismatch with the company.
  4. Is there training available in the company? The answer to this question can help you find out the level of the company and understand how interested it is in employee development.
  5. Who will be my manager? It is very important to meet this person in advance to understand whether you are suited to each other or not. After all, we choose not only the company, but also the people with whom we will work and communicate.
  6. Is it expected that I will participate in additional projects, business trips, or volunteer activities?
  7. How many stages of the interview are anticipated and how much time should I expect to pass before an offer is made? How long should I wait for feedback? Should I contact you, or will you contact me? What is the communication channel?

Each candidate needs to think about what is important to them to know about the company and draft their own list of questions. They should also ask themselves the main question — what does the offer need to include in order for you to accept it? For some, interesting tasks are important, for others it is important that the position cover basic needs, for some the prospect of growth and the possibility of learning are important, etc.

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The next stage

— At the first stage, you ask HR general questions about the company and values. At the second stage, you can ask about the position responsibilities, what is expected of you in 3-6 months, what the KPIs are, and what needs to be done to achieve them.

You may also want to ask about:

  • future plans for the position;
  • tasks and responsibilities; and
  • the team — how many people, what does the team look like, is the team expected to expand or are optimization, merger, etc. planned.

Everyone is different, and it is important to understand what is important for you. Some people enjoy a casual atmosphere that features profanity, some are motivated when the boss shouts, while others are horrified by it. Everything is individual. But I would focus on three main question areas for which the answers may be "red flags" for you:

  1. Work schedule.
  2. The boss and the team.
  3. Working out of hours.

Whether you get this position or not, whether you will have career growth in the future or not, depends entirely on you.

What is important for you to learn at the interview?

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