The Most Important Question to Ask in an Interview – Forbes Magazine article

By Robin Ryan, Oct 7, 2019
Contributor

The Most Important Question To Ask In An Interview

Hiring managers repeatedly tell me they pay particular attention to the questions that applicants ask them. Your questions, especially when they are insightful, send a signal that you are not only interested in the job but genuinely trying to evaluate whether this will be a good match and work out long-term for both parties. A top manager at AT&T said: “I judge candidates by the questions they ask. That’s what’s most revealing to me. I want someone focused on succeeding in the job and not just centered on how much money I will pay him or her.”

Unless you are in Sales, never bring up any questions about salary or benefits. Focus on determining if you want to do this job so that you know this is a good manager for you to work and thrive under. 

Most candidates stumble when it’s time to ask questions. It would be best if you went in prepared with key questions written out to ask. The interview is your opportunity to determine more about the duties, the work culture at that company, and if the boss is a good one or not. 

The key question that everyone should ask is: 

“Could you describe to me your management style and the type of employee that works well with you?”

Think about that. You’re asking the hiring manager to give you some insight into what type of a boss he or she will be. My client Susan, 57, said something recently that I have heard from other clients. She stated, “I wanted a new job, but I should have paid closer attention to what the managers were like in the interview. I felt comfortable with Maria, my potential boss, but her boss Dick, gave off a lot of red flags that I ignored. I got hired, and three months into the job, Dick was proving to be even more difficult than I would have guessed. I kept hearing some of the words he said in the interview and wished I’d been smarter to ask more questions on his management style. He proved to be a dictator, and many people in the company didn’t like him. Of course, I learned that too late,” she explained. 

There is much truth in the statement “most people don’t quit the company they quit a manager” when they leave a job. Susan was talking to me because Dick was too hard on her, and she hated his management style. She stated, “He is the worse administrator ever. I hate anytime he emails me or asks me to his office. I get a stomach tied in knots and so anxious before any encounter with him. Most of my colleagues think he’s an awful boss, but I have to deal with him. I am finding it to be a miserable experience and I want out of here because of him.” 

Susan left this job after two years – the last one being rather wretched as she had her run-ins with Dick. Just like in Susan’s case, it is often a problem with their boss that starts a person’s job search. This vital question when you inquiry nicely about their management style lets you get a better glimpse into a prospective supervisor’s approach. Are they team-orientated? More dictatorial? Do they seem to be a micromanager? Will you have autonomy? Keep in mind how you work best. You are seeking to find the right manager for you to work for. 

Additionally, before you make a final decision, do some research. Check out the hiring manager on LinkedIn. Contact a few colleagues from your LinkedIn network to see if they have any insider information about the potential boss and company. Go to Glassdoor.com and read what others say who work for this particular company. Networking to get some insider information as to what is going on in the company, in that department, and insight on that boss’s reputation is vital in making your decision as to whether you want to accept the job offer. However, always be sure to ask the question on the prospective boss’s management style and pay close attention to their answer.

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