Interview Your Interviewer

by Ron Haynes

When I interview potential candidates for a position, few things irritate me like an applicant who never asks any questions about the company or the position. When a candidate is engaged, asks specific questions, and even takes notes, I take note as well! It shows interest in the position and makes me think they’re probably going to perform well.

Interview the interviewer

When the questions coming from your interviewer start to wane, take charge of the interview with some questions of your own.

  • Tell me about the exact nature of the job, who this position reports to, the responsibilities of the position, and the desired results.
  • Tell me about the boss’ style of management.
  • What are the key targets or goals of the position?
  • How do you know you’re succeeding?
  • What is essential for success in this position?
  • What in my background makes you think I’d be a good fit for this position?
  • What makes a good employee in this position?
  • What characteristics to you admire in your boss?
  • Why is the position open?
  • What happened to the last person who held this position (quit, promoted, fired, transferred, died, retired)?
  • Why is this a great job?
  • What growth is projected for the future regarding the company or the position?
  • Why is this a great job?

Interview the company as much as it’s interviewing you

You are a valuable commodity! You have a unique set of skills, education, experience, and insights. Any company who thinks you’re worthy of an interview obviously saw something they liked. Make sure you cultivate their interest by showing interest in them.

The interviewer may decline to interest certain questions but even their declination can tell you something. For example, the question about what happened to the person who formerly held the position, if they were “invited to seek employment elsewhere,” the interviewer may respond with, “They’re no longer with us.” At that point, you can ask about whether the goals of the position have been met or exceeded in previous years (or quarters). If the answer is no, you might wonder if the goals were actually attainable. If the answer is yes, it might indicate that the last person was offered a position with a competitor.

An interview is like a dance

Dancing is a lot more fun when someone is doing it with you. Dancing alone while someone watches you isn’t a lot of fun so – participate! Join in the fun. Ask questions of your interviewer. Don’t be afraid to ask about how they came to be employed with the company and take a few notes.

In this employment environment, you’ve probably beat out a couple of hundred other candidates if you’ve made it to the interview. Keep your momentum going by showing sincere interest in the company by asking questions of your interviewer.

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About the author

Ron Haynes has written 1001 articles on The Wisdom Journal.

The founder and editor of The Wisdom Journal in 2007, Ron has worked in banking, distribution, retail, and upper management for companies ranging in size from small startups to multi-billion dollar corporations. He graduated Suma Cum Laude from a top MBA program and currently is a Human Resources and Management consultant, helping companies know how employees will behave in varying situations and what motivates them to action, assisting firms in identifying top talent, and coaching managers and employees on how to better communicate and make the workplace MUCH more enjoyable. If you'd like help in these areas, contact Ron using the contact form at the top of this page or at 870-761-7881.

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Great ideas. I was interviewed a few years back for my current position and extended my interview over an hour by asking questions. The interviewer actually took me into the VP’s office to get a couple of answers and by the time I was finished, HE was making me an offer. I really wonder if I would have been offered the position that day without asking those follow-up questions.

Credit Girl

Love the analogy about dancing! So true that it’s important to ask questions during an interview. Any interviewing tips website will tell you to ask the interviewer a question as well just to simply show that you’re interested. Thanks for the article! I know that many people are interviewing for jobs now so this is definitely helpful..

Financial Samurai

Hola Ron – Thanks for sharing. I agree, it bothers me to no end when a candidate doesn’t have several burning questions to ask me about the company or anything else.

The questions are a chance to demonstrate a candidate’s intellectual curiousity and vigor.

We go through a minimum of 15 interviews and 3 rounds at my firm, and often times it goes to 30 interviews and 5 rounds. We just need to make 100% sure we aren’t hiring a dud!

Best, FS


Wow. That’s a lot of interviews. We regularly go through quite a few interviews for most positions but those in management really get scrutinized including 4 different personality tests and deep reference checks. But there’s nothing like a bad hire …

Financial Samurai

Yeah, nothing like a bad hire indeed. Almost impossible to get rid of without painfully long documentation.

Rather not have someone than a bad apple!

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