Chapter: 3

Questions about the company


By now, you have an arsenal of questions concerning the job itself. It’s time to widen the scope and understand the company you’re applying to even better.

In this chapter, you'll continue to build on the information you’ve collected during your research and preparations for the interview. You’ll also gain more insight into information that is not directly communicated in the company's official publications.

Many of the questions about the company allow you to not only showcase your interest towards the company, but also help you figure out if this is the company where YOU want to work.

Ready to begin?

Chapter 3: Questions to ask during a job interview - Questions about the company
Question for interviewer: Where do you see this company in the next few years?

[QUESTION #16]:

Where do you see this company in the next few years?

As an interview candidate, make sure you are researching the companies that you are applying to diligently. When you walk into the interview, you should be completely knowledgeable about the company and their business practices.

They will ask you a wide array of questions, and it is only fair that you get to respond in kind. You can certainly ask questions at any point in time during the interview, but most of the questions are saved until the end. Asking where the company is headed in the next few years is a perfect place to start.

This is information that is probably easily found on the Internet or through various publications. It is not hard to figure out stock prices, or profit margins. What is not as simple to figure out, however, is the company vision.

Company Growth

Having a goal clearly stated by the company is a big deal. If there is an end point in mind, employees have something to unify them, something to work towards. Applying to a company that knows where they are headed is incredibly important.

You will want to work for a company that has a clear vision for the future. You will want to work where they have a definite next step in mind.

If you ask this particular question and the answer given is wishy-washy, or a muddled mess camouflaging an “I don’t really know”, then it is time to reassess your application process. Can you work for a company that doesn’t know where they are headed? Place value upon your own gut feelings.

Finding the Importance

This question is not one to take lightly. The answer given will help you as you move forward. Whatever vision your potential place of employment may have, will become your own vision.

This is where you will gain your own checklist for accomplishment. Listen to the answer carefully, as it will be beneficial for you when you begin working.

Question for interviewer: What is the key to success in this organization/company?

[QUESTION #17]:

What is the key to success in this organization/company?

When going into an interview, you will need to remember that although you are hoping to impress the interviewer, they are also trying to impress you! Asking the interviewer questions about the company and how it works is a great way to see if you’re a good match.

When you ask how an employee can be successful, you give the interviewer a great impression of a hard worker who is willing to thrive in the business.

In turn, they are going to tell you the ways that current employees have made their mark and will give you advice on how you can do the same. This is a wonderful tool to become a quality employee who will have future growth with the company.

What should I be looking for?

Depending on the type of organization, you may be provided a host of different qualities that make a successful employee. Some terms you may hear, such as “team player”, “leader” and “great communicator” are just a few qualities that make a successful employee.

The interviewer may also provide achievement milestones and measurements to evaluate the success of the employee. This may be done through a bonus structure, awards, promotions and other similar methods.

You could be provided with examples of employees who did not succeed, and this can be a guideline of what you should not do if you are hired. Negative qualities can be useful to hear, but should not be the primary focus of the interviewer.

The response of the interviewer will give you a good understanding of what the expectations will be if you are hired for the position. You may realize that the requirements to be successful do not coincide with your work ethic. Or, you may find that this company will be the perfect fit for you.

By asking how to be successful, you will be on your way to finding that perfect job.

Question for interviewer: What can you tell me about this company/organization that isn’t widely known?

[QUESTION #18]:

What can you tell me about this company/organization that isn’t widely known?

This is a great question to ask to get a better understanding of the company – information you may not find on their website or news articles.

It also demonstrates your interest in the organization by delving deeper into the inner workings of your potential employer.

Don’t be nervous about asking this question. You will want to hear what the interviewer has to say. They will have firsthand knowledge about the company and can give you details that you never would have known if you hadn’t asked.

How is this question relevant/important?

With an open-ended question, such as this, the interviewer will be able to provide an answer that can be quite varied and unique. The interviewer can share with you as much (or as little) as they like.

Some of the responses you receive may be more about the job itself. For example; how different departments interact, how management structure is set up or if there is a mentorship program. This will give you further material to help in deciding if this job is best for you.

The interviewer may also share aspects about the culture of the company. Perhaps there are potlucks at the end of each month, casual dress Fridays, or they are heavily involved in charity projects and encourage employees to participate.

Knowing the culture of the company will be significant to your enjoyment at work. If you are performance driven and do not enjoy work events, then you may not choose to work in an environment that prides itself on its casual atmosphere.

On the other hand, if you enjoy the social aspect of work, that company may be your best fit.

You will be able to garner some interesting facts during this discovery process. If you are fortunate to have multiple job offers, you may end up using the information here to help you make the final decision of who your new employer will be!

Question for interviewer: How is [insert current industry trend or challenge] impacting your organization?

[QUESTION #19]:

How is [insert current industry trend or challenge] impacting your organization?

When you ask this question, it demonstrates you have done your research on the company and the industry. It will show that you have been paying attention to the inner workings of the business and want to know more.

The interviewer will most likely provide a candid answer and you will learn more about the company.

You will also have the chance to ask further questions which can promote your abilities as an employee.

Is this question important?

It is very important to present to the interviewer that you are knowledgeable about both the organization and the industry it contributes to.

You can elaborate on this question by asking how the company is involved with the trend, or what they are doing to address the challenge(s) they are facing presently.

If the challenge is related to the position you are applying for, this may provide you with the opportunity to sell your skills and ideas.

You may be able to provide some solutions to their challenge(s) or illustrate how you were able to assist with similar challenges at another position.

The primary benefit of asking this question is showing the interviewer that you have come prepared and educated about the business. Coming in well-informed about the difficulties the organization faces shows you are sincerely interested in the company.

If you can provide ideas and solutions for the issues the company faces, it will only enhance the value you can provide as an employee.

Be sure to listen carefully and take the time to think of any further questions you may have while the interviewer is speaking. They may offer pieces of information that you can utilize to promote your abilities.

The interviewer will leave the interview impressed by your understanding of the business and industry!

Question for interviewer: Who do you consider your top competitor, and why?

[QUESTION #20]:

Who do you consider your top competitor, and why?

When you are walking into an interview, the biggest weapon you can bring is preparedness. Directly after receiving an invitation to interview, you should begin the company research process.

This process is much more advanced than it was when you were merely looking for places to apply. This research should include internet research, but also word of mouth and news articles.

Part of this research should include competitors. The reason is twofold: you want to be able to identify salient points in beating the company competitor, and maybe, since you are still in the application process, a top competitor could be a place to also apply to.

During the Interview

When you are finally asked if you have any questions at the very end of your interview process, one of your questions definitely needs to be about the top competitors.

This is where your research will come in handy. If you already know the details about who the company’s top competitors are, then you should be able to identify them by name. It will impress your interviewer, for sure, but you should then also be able to discuss in-depth challenges that the company interviewing you faces.

The interviewer will probably not hand out company secrets or even company strategy. However, if you have identified some quality solutions, this is an excellent time to bring those forward.

You want to present to your future employer that you are up for the challenge. Presenting yourself as well researched and dedicated to company conundrums will probably put you at the top of the candidate pack.

That is where you always want to be.

On the Other Hand

If you did your homework and still failed to come up with company competitors, it is okay. You can most definitely ask during the interview process.

It could be that you have applied to a new company, or to a company that currently holds some kind of monopoly in the market. If this is the case, asking the question is completely beneficial.

Hopefully, the interviewer is up-front and honest. As always, be sure to take detailed notes when they answer. This will definitely be helpful as you begin your new position.

Question for interviewer: What gets you most excited about the company’s future?

[QUESTION #21]:

What gets you most excited about the company’s future?

This is a wonderful way to learn what your interviewer thinks of the company they work for.

They can give you great insight about the company, how the management works with their teams, future goals and what it is like to work there. It would be a benefit to know these details before you are offered a position.

You are asking this question to learn about some of the objectives of the company, but also to see if the employees (such as your interviewer) are excited by their company and what the future holds.

If your interviewer is engaged and enthusiastic about the future of the company, you may be too! This could be a great indication of a positive workplace with creative people willing to work hard and make the company successful.

How will this help me?

People generally like to speak about themselves, and interviewers are no different. By asking the interviewer their thoughts, you are engaging them to talk about their experiences and expectations.

You will be able to see if you and the interviewer share the same drive and interests, which may indicate if you would fit in well with the company.

Your interviewer should be able to provide you with a wealth of information about the goals of the team, the departments, and the company as a whole. And they should be excited when sharing them with you.

If they are unable to think of an answer, or struggle to provide one, you can take this as an indication that either the interviewer is not keenly interested in the future of the company or the topic of the company’s goals is not regularly discussed.

You will want to make note of the way the interviewer answers the questions, the range of their answers and if the answers motivate you as well.

Question for interviewer: Where would the company like to be in five years?

[QUESTION #22]:

Where would the company like to be in five years?

When you are applying for a new job with a new company, you will find it best practice to know exactly what that company’s plans for the future are.

If the company has plans to continue to grow, this should in turn give you the opportunity to grow with the company. This is an important piece of information, if you intend on staying with the company for an extended length of time rather than using it as a stepping stone for a job elsewhere.

You can also use this information to see if the company is a right fit for you.

If you want to develop with a company but the company vision is to stay tried and true without having any real plans for growth and improvement, it may not be in your best interests to take the position, if offered.

Your interviewer may also be impressed that you are showing interest in the company, not just the position you are applying for. Expressing your interest in the industry and future growth will suggest to the interviewer that you are willing to help bring the company success for the long term.

What answer should I expect?

If you ask your interviewer this question, you may end up receiving a variety of answers. It will depend on how knowledgeable the interviewer is of the company and of its future plans.

Some points that could be brought up are the financial goals of the company, additional staff hires for growing departments, national or international expansion or other plans that are unique to the industry that you are applying for.

You may not fully understand the scope of the growth the interviewer is providing to you at the time, but you will likely gather some details that you can use for your decision, if you are offered the position.

Question for interviewer: What are the current goals that the company is focused on, and how does this team work to support hitting those goals?

[QUESTION #23]:

What are the current goals that the company is focused on, and how does this team work to support hitting those goals?

Knowing the direction and goals of the company is important. Understanding how the company plans to meet those goals is essential to being a productive company, team, and employee.

When you ask the interviewer the above question, you will show that you are interested in the direction of the company.

But when you go further to ask how the team can help the company achieve their target, you set yourself apart from the other candidates.

You will be highlighting your team work skills to your interviewer, while also learning exactly what the team will be doing to make the company successful.

How are the goals important?

Companies have most likely spent a lot of time and energy establishing their goals. Much research would have been conducted to decide which targets would need to be hit and when they need to be reached.

They will also have determined which departments and teams would be responsible for the various facets that would ensure achieving the goals set out.

Knowing these goals is important for the team to identify their direction and how they are going to get there. Without having these goals and targets, employees and teams have difficulty knowing if they are on the path to success.

Different areas of the company will have their own roles to play, and all are vital for hitting the established targets. When each employee, team and manager knows their role, they all work together to achieve the same result – reaching the goal.

When the interviewer has answered your question, you will want to take away with you some of the following information. Are the goals of the company attainable? Is the role of the team able to help achieve those goals? Do you think you could be part of this team?

Question for interviewer: If regular performance reports are done, what is the time frame between reports, who writes them, and who contributes to them?

[QUESTION #24]:

If regular performance reports are done, what is the time frame between reports, who writes them, and who contributes to them?

The subject of this question is very important. Performance reports and reviews will influence your future with the company and will be a factor in your advancement.

You will want to know how your performance will be assessed and the processes for that procedure. It will give you some knowledge of how the company manages their employees and if they respect and value their staff.

Why should I ask this during the interview?

It would be advisable to ask this questions during the interview. Knowing this information will give you a good idea as to how the company treats its employees.

If they have a performance review structure in place, they most likely have a system that assists their employees and provides support when needed.

Asking these questions also shows the interviewer that you understand the concept of performance review, are familiar with having your work and abilities evaluated and are prepared to accept feedback that will help you become a successful employee.

This question will also give you a clear breakdown of how the actual performance review works. Not every company and organization is the same and each has their own method. If you are offered the position, knowing how you will be measured and evaluated will guide you to do your best work.

If the company does not have a performance review procedure in place, this may give indication that the support for employees is minimal. It may also signal that employees are not overly managed and are required to be successful without too much intervention.

If you prefer to work independent of structure and the formality of reviews, this may be a great place for you to work. However, if you would rather have have your work evaluated, and know that you would need it to be productive, you may need to decide if this would be the best work environment for you.

Question for interviewer: How many have joined in the last year?

[QUESTION #25]:

How many have joined in the last year?

Asking how many new employees have joined the force throughout the past year is something that can easily be squeezed into conversation. Maybe you ask on your office tour. Maybe you decide to wait until the end. Regardless of when you ask, you need to make sure this question stays, at least, on your long-list.

Why Hiring Rates Are Important

This is a serious question. If employee turnover rates at your prospective place of employment are high, then perhaps it is time to reassess your application process. If they are constantly replacing employees then you need to determine the why. Is it stressful? Is it a difficult work environment? Or is it, maybe, typical in that industry?

If the turnover is low and employees are staying on a long time, then it should be obvious to you that a pleasant work experience will await you.

Also, it is important to realize that employees can be added due to company growth. This is, obviously, a good thing, and should be seen as such. Company growth equates to more business opportunity for you. That is always a bonus.

Following Up

However your interviewer answers this particular question will set your course for follow-up. It will be easy to determine whether or not they are fudging the truth or evading any difficult-to-present facts. It will be your job throughout the course of the interview to weed out the truth.

Remember, you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. They should prove to you that this is the place where you belong. If you don’t like the answer you are given, or if the information presented is still unclear, then ask again. You are always allowed to ask for clarification.

Question for interviewer: When and how is feedback given to employees?

[QUESTION #26]:

When and how is feedback given to employees?

Throughout your interview, you will speak about a myriad of things. One of those things will probably be how employees are evaluated.

Hopefully, you come away from the conversation clear about company expectations.

However, there is a big difference between evaluating and normal feedback. Feedback can be anything from a “good job” to “this area over here needs some work.” It could just be a response in an email, or it could be a verbalized expectation.

Asking About Feedback

In your interview, it is important to differentiate between feedback and evaluating. Once you are clear on evaluation, go ahead and ask about feedback. Definitely ask these questions when time is given to you at the end of your interview.

These questions might resemble something like the following:

  • “Is feedback given in written form most of the time?”
  • “How can I expect general feedback on projects?”
  • “What does constructive criticism look like here?”

A Quick Note

This question should not make or break your decision as to whether or not you accept the job. Constructive feedback is different for everyone.

If you have a specific style that works best for you (written, verbal, praise, criticism), make sure your new boss is aware. If you respond better to a certain type, ensure that you are on the same page with your team. This will only help you be more successful in the long run.

The Interviewer’s Response

Take note - there might not be a formal way that feedback is given. Your interviewer may not have any idea as to how managers at the company approach this area.

Also, there may not be a specific timeline for feedback. You, as an employee, might just have to be okay with this.

However, if it is something that truly does bother you, make sure you are direct with your superior. Chances are, they will be glad to give you pointers.

Image credits: designed by Freepik.