Good Questions to ask Interviewers

by Lauren Bourdages, Senior Assistant, INALJ Ontario

Good Questions to ask Interviewers

laurenbourdagesSome of you probably already know that I recently ended my job search by getting hired. I’m now in my first full time position in the industry as a Reserves and User Services Associate at the library of one of my alma maters. I’m super excited and thrilled to be in the position and back at this university. I thought now would be a good time to share with all of you the set of questions that I took with me to every interview I’ve had in the last 3 years.

Many of my interviewers over the course of my search were impressed by the questions I would ask, with more than one actually being stopped in their tracks to look at me and say seriously something along the lines of, “That is a really good question,” and having to take a moment to think of the answer.

The vast majority of these questions have been culled and modified/paraphrased from various blogs that I follow when they posted about GOOD questions to ask interviewers, Ask a Manager, Evil HR Lady, Brazen Careerist, and YouTern mostly.

Obviously you’re not going to have the chance, nor will you want to, ask all of the questions on the page; but I like having the full page because we may or may not have already discussed something I want to ask about and having the full page means I have prompts for all of the important things. What I usually do is, after doing all of my research for an interview, the night before the interview I sit down, open the word doc where I keep this list, and highlight/bold the 5 questions I think I will most want to ask so that they’re easier to focus in on during the interview.

Questions about the position

You already know about the general responsibilities and duties, these are questions to help you get a sense of what it will take to actually be successful in carrying out those responsibilities and duties. Here is your chance to find out about opportunities for advancement etc. Find out specifically how this role fits into the team/department it is part of.

1. Could you describe what a typical day at this position would be like?

2. Could you describe the ideal candidate for this position?

3. Does this position provide opportunities for advancement within this organization in the future?

4. What main challenges will I encounter at this position?

5. What would a successful first year in the position look like?

6. How will the success of the person in this position be measured?

7. How often should I expect to receive a performance review?

8. How much travel, if any, is involved in this position?

9. How do you envision this position supporting you?

10. Have successful employees previously in this position progressed to within the organization?

Questions about the organisation/culture/management

The point of these types of questions is to help you figure out if this library/organization is going to be a good fit for you. To help you find out about the team and manager. If professional development, continuing education, conferences, research and publishing support etc. are things that are important to you this is the time to ask about those things. Find out how the team/department fits into the larger organization.

11. What do you like best about working for this organization? Worst?

12. What are the goals of this branch/department/library? How do they fit into the overall goals of the larger organization/whole library, etc.?

13. What successes has this department/branch/library had in the last 5 years?

14. How big is the team I’d be working with?

15. What do you like best about your job?

16. Can you describe the typical client/customer I might be working with and their expectations?

17. What are the opportunities at this organization for training, further education, and professional development?

18. What happened to the person who previously held this job?

19. How long did the previous person in the role hold the position? What has turnover in the role generally been like?

20. How would you describe the culture here? What type of people tend to really thrive, and what type don’t do as well?

21. How would you describe your management style?

22. Thinking back to the person who you’ve seen do this job best, what made their performance so outstanding?

Questions about the hiring process

These two questions are of vital importance!! You want to know if you’re going to have to go through any other interviews, tours etc. and you also want to know an approximate timeline for how long that’s going to take. Once you have this information you are better able to continue planning your own hunt, and then you have a rough estimate of when it’s okay to follow up with them without looking like you’re hounding them

23. What are the next steps for the interview process?

24. What is your time line for getting back to candidates about those next steps?

  3 comments for “Good Questions to ask Interviewers

  1. Sara
    September 10, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I hope to use some of these soon… I really liked the ones about what will be a successful year for the employee…so often it is so hard to figure out what is the measure of success. There is usually a lot of growing pains and learning curve in that first year unless the person was internal hiring. As many people have pointed out – you are being interviewed but so is the place doing the interview. One can not be so desperate that they will just take anything. Thank you! Like I said – hope to use these soon!

  2. September 10, 2014 at 9:11 am

    All solid questions to ask. Interviewers are also impressed the more you know about their library system, and it doesn’t need to be earth-shattering. Small things like current programs, recent renovations, what cataloging system they use, etc.

    • September 10, 2014 at 11:40 am

      You’re right of course! That all ties in to how well you research and prepare for the interview.

Comments are closed.