Questions to Ask a Prospective Boss
Countless articles have been written about how to prepare for an interview. They often list common questions an interviewer is likely to ask and suggest canned responses for the candidate. Much fewer articles have been written about questions to ask your prospective employer.
During an interview, it is just as important to ask questions as to answer questions. As an employer, I am always less impressed with candidates who never ask questions or give me a blank look when I ask (as I always do), "Do you have any questions for me?" Interestingly, lack of questions can count against you and even make an otherwise positive interview detract from your attractiveness as a potential hire.
Questions you might ask:
Why is the position vacant at this time?
What were the strengths and weaknesses of the person who was in this position last?
What do you consider the 2 top priorities that I (or the selected candidate) should address?
What type of achievement would you consider above average or exemplary?
Would you explain the chain of command for me?
What do you consider your most important asset as an organization?
How would you describe a typical day/week in this position?
These questions are not exhaustive by any means; nor are they magical in some way. What they do, however, is force the employer to give you thoughtful answers. You get a sense of organizational culture, vision and priorities; and can even use those answers as "ammunition" later on if needed.
Questions such as "What is your management style" or "Can I count on your support?" are canned and almost always solicit a canned answer. Before the interview, choose the 5 or 6 questions (other than related to salary; that is for another time) where the answer could be a deal breaker for you. They should be open ended questions (not easily answered with a simple "yes" or "no") and should not be rhetorical (example: whether they value their employees or productivity or punctuality or have a democratic management style).
Remember a job interview is like a serious date. It is a two-way street. You want to know if you really want to go steady. Ask the right questions and look for consistency or dissonance in answers.
Asking thoughtful, carefully crafted questions during an interview provides you with valuable insight into a prospective employer; plus has the additional benefit of being a huge turn on for many employers. It really is a win-win strategy.