Top 10 Questions to ask an interviewer

“Who is the leader of this business and how would people describe their leadership style?”

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Depending on the size of the organization you are interviewing with, this question can have different meanings. If you are interviewing with a small organization of a few people, the person who leads it might actually be your boss—so this would be redundant to the first question and worth skipping. However, if you are interviewing with a larger organization with multiple layers of management, there might be a leader for each business unit above the person you are interviewing with. This is where most of the company’s culture emanates from.

Each organization develops a unique culture, and changes in any culture will typically come straight from the top, or the leader of the organization, which is why you want to know more about that person. Ultimately these leaders will model, reinforce, and enforce behaviors they want repeated throughout the organization. So, if you have a toxic leader, they can create a toxic work culture throughout the business, which you want to avoid being part of. Conversely, if you have a highly effective, motivating, and inspirational leader, you will commonly see that reflected throughout the organization as well. And these are typically great organizations to work for.

For example, I was lucky enough to work for a remarkable leader at the first large corporation I worked for. I knew the minute I interviewed for that job that something was different there. I didn’t need to ask about their senior leadership, for it was willingly and happily provided to me as a selling point to join them. After taking the job, I saw the leader (Charlie) always smiling, circulating freely among the thousands of employees, shaking hands, and liberally giving out on-the-spot “outstanding performance rewards” each week to people throughout the company…by hand! When he spoke, he didn’t demand respect and attention, he commanded it, and people loved working for him as a result. Moreover, most of the management below him tried to copy his style, resulting in a world-class culture that sadly is rarely seen in many larger organizations today. And for that reason alone, you need to pay attention to the senior leadership, for you will learn a lot about their culture by asking this one important question.


Question #1: Who would I be reporting to and how would you describe their management style?

Question #2: Why is this position now open?

Question #3: What was the growth rate of the business last year?

Question #4: What would people tell me are the top three benefits and top three challenges in this job?

Question #5: If I perform my job well, what are my potential career paths from here?


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