Chapter: 5

Questions about the expectations

The previous chapter revealed questions that help you get the job, by making sure you communicate your strengths and ability to meet the requirements to enter into the new role.

Once you do start the work, you are no longer evaluated based on the requirements, but rather based on the expectations for your role. Welcome to the world of perceptions and expectations.

This chapter focuses on questions that help you uncover these expectations.

The questions listed here are very practical and, so to say, very much down to business. Asking some of these questions profiles you as a success-focused professional.

Ready to go?

Chapter 5: Questions to ask during a job interview - Questions about the expectations
Question for interviewer: What have past employees done to succeed in this position?


What have past employees done to succeed in this position?

When it is your turn to ask questions at the end of the interview, you will want to make sure you are asking questions that will set you up for success when you eventually begin your new position.

Do not waste the interviewer’s time with mundane questions that a simple Google search will help you with. Instead, ask detailed, well-rehearsed questions that will yield useful answers. Take diligent notes, and refer back to them as you begin your role.

Past Successes

It is in your nature to want to be successful. Asking how the previous employee was successful will guide you to a starting place.

Tread lightly, however. The person that came before you could have been let go, or could have left the company in a bad spot. You don’t want to bring up any negative tension, so ensure that you phrase your question in the most positive way possible.

Your Success vs The Previous Employee

Knowing how the organization measures achievements will help you understand what the expectations will be and whether you have the skill set to meet them.

Do not undermine your past accomplishments just because your route to success does not match up with the one embraced by the company.

You also do not want to be too narrowly defined by what other people have done. Because you are a different person, you may approach things a little differently.

The Eventual Answer

You may hear a description that highlights the positive and negative attributes of your predecessor.

That could be a good indicator of the company's culture. Typically, what one person has done to be successful is what the organization tends to do to be successful.

Also, the past employee was probably measured on the same assessment scale that you will be measured by. A good follow-up question could be how levels of success are weighed, or even how people are evaluated.

All of this will give you an excellent starting point when you are hired. You will know where you stand, but more importantly, you will know how to be successful.

Question for interviewer: What are your expectations for this role during the first 30 days, 60 days, year?


What are your expectations for this role during the first 30 days, 60 days, year?

Being a new kid on the block can be difficult. Learning a new role in a new business or company can be even more difficult. Coming into the company will be a new process and learning how the day-to-day operations are handled will be tricky.

Throughout the interview process, it should be important to you to figure out what will be expected of you during those first few weeks and months on the job. You will really need to get a feel for what the expectations will be as you learn the rigors of your new profession.

Why You Should Think It Is Important

Asking your interviewer what they will expect from you during your first few months on the job is a big deal. Will you be evaluated in your new position? If so, how frequently? What will be the measuring tool? These are all important follow-up questions that could potentially sway your choice.

Asking this question is also important because it will give you a measuring stick for performance. You can use this answer to help guide you as you begin working. Likely, they will give you a list of important checkpoints. Use these as you get to work. Really pay attention to what is being asked of you.

When They Answer

Often, interviews are conducted by someone in Human Resources. You need to be aware they may just not know the answer. You need to also prepare yourself for a potentially vague answer. If this is the case, you will just have to move forward. You could ask for an email address of a current employee in a similar position, but you might just be pushing your luck.

If they do respond with a solid answer, then respect what they have to say. It’s valuable and it will help you enormously when you get the job. Be sure to add this to your interview notes so that you’ll have a gauge for those first few weeks on the job.

Question for interviewer: What is the single largest problem facing your staff and would I be in a position to help you solve this problem?


What is the single largest problem facing your staff and would I be in a position to help you solve this problem?

This question will put a focus on your abilities and how you can assist the company with challenges they face.

The interviewer will see that you are thinking about how you can contribute as a team player, and they can imagine you being successful in that role.

Every position and company faces problems and challenges, so your interviewer will more than likely have at least one problem that needs to be addressed.

If your interviewer states that there are no issues the staff encounters, the interviewer is not being honest with their answer or is not knowledgeable about the department.

How can I use this information?

This question is two-fold. On one hand, you are highlighting your attributes to the interviewer and indicating that you would be able to help the team conquer the problems that they encounter.

You will also be garnering important information from the interviewer.

You are going to learn about difficulties that the team, department and/or company are facing. It will be beneficial to ask yourself if the position would be right for you.

Will these obstacles be something you can overcome? Do you think you will be able to assist the team with the challenges they are coming up against? Do you have the experience?

Ask yourself these three questions and it should help you determine your suitability for the job.

You will want to ensure the position is something that you can handle. If you are up to the challenge, now is the time to tell your interviewer what you will be able to do for the company.

If you come across as a problem-solver who is interested in doing what is best for the team and the company, the interviewer will keep that in mind when selecting the successful candidate for the position.

Question for interviewer: What is the top priority for the person in this position over the next three months?


What is the top priority for the person in this position over the next three months?

This is an exciting question, as it will set up your beginning days with the company and will create your path with them.

Usually, you will have a good overview of the position with the job description. This is a great starting point for someone looking to interview for the position and the company. When you get to an interview, you are given the opportunity to learn more about the specifics of the job.

Things to Look for

When you ask about the top priority of a position, you are looking for a few things.

First, you want to know that the priority is in line with the given job description. It could be very hard to be successful at a job, if your focus is separated among many big initiatives.

Next, you want to hear where this priority and job fit into the department and company. The hiring committee is looking for someone to achieve a certain something. By asking what the top priority is, you will be learning a great deal about what the job entails and how you will fit into the team.

Knowing what the expectation is will prepare you a great deal for your first days at the company.

Hearing the answer to this question will help you better understand not only how you would work with the team but also with other departments. It is important to be able to collaborate with others within the company.

Lastly, you want to see why this position has been created. There needs to be a clear and concise goal so there is a measure of success for you, if you were to accept an offer. This will show you that the company is organized and all of the team members are on the same page.

When you ask about the top priority, you are expressing your enthusiasm for the job and showing your commitment to action to the employer. This will help you stand out among the other interviewees and that is the ultimate goal.

Question for interviewer: What are the performance expectations for this position over the first 12 months?


What are the performance expectations for this position over the first 12 months?

Throughout your interview, you will have learned what the role you are applying for is. You will have been provided a job description (either brief or well-detailed) and the interviewer may have given you a task listing for the position.

Yet, to be a successful employee is to know what lies ahead for you with the position. Learning what your employer’s expectations are of you for that first year will provide you a better understanding of what is required and if you are able to face that challenge.

Having these details from the onset will help you decide if you have the skills to carry out the role for the next year.

Why is this important to ask?

This is your opportunity to reiterate to your interviewer that you are committed to the position and are genuinely interested in knowing what their anticipations are for the new employee.

You will also show that you are willing to aim for targets that are put in place and will be held responsible for those outcomes.

When you ask what will be expected of the employee for the year to come, you are requiring the interviewer to put into words what the demands will be. Sometimes they may not have thought that far ahead and your question may cause them to take time to think about their answer.

Let them have their moments to prepare. The information they give you will be very valuable in your decision making.

If they do not have the details at that time, it is acceptable to ask them to forward you the details following the interview. If they offer you the position, you will want to know what their expectations will be for you for the next 12 months and can prepare to either accept their job offer or decline it.

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