“Do you have any questions for me?”
It’s typically the last thing any interviewer will ask a candidate. By now, most job seekers know that the answer to that question can’t be “No, I don’t have any questions” if the goal is to make a lasting impression. But what kind of questions should be asked during this part of the interview? And what happens if you flip that final question entirely?
That’s what Mike Peditto, who has over 10 years of experience in hiring and coaching, suggests. In fact, he did so in a TikTok, which recently went viral with nearly 2 million views. His argument is that candidates are usually asked behavioral questions, but many don’t realize they can do the same back. And doing so, will tell them a lot more about their manager’s style, and how the organization operates than asking the vanilla go-to “What is your company culture like?”
He suggests asking questions like: “Can you tell me about someone on your team whose career you helped progress?, Can you tell me about a time that you managed two coworkers who had a dispute and the role you played in that?”
This is arguably even more beneficial than asking more in-depth and considered questions that career coaches often cite, like “What are the most important qualities you’re looking for in a candidate for this role?” or “What are the expectations for this role in the first 30, 60 and 90 days?”
“They [hiring managers] want to know how you work and the behaviors you’ve displayed while working,” said Peditto in the TikTok video. “You should want to know how they manage and the behaviors they display while they’re managing.”
However, it’s not always so easy to put into practice, especially if the interviewer isn’t used to receiving questions like this. They might even be offended that the interview has turned to focus on them.
“It’s important to ask what’s important to you,” said Peditto. “I can’t tell you exactly how the conversation will go. But, I’m far more interested in people who are qualifying if it’s the right role for them, and for a long time. That’s what most people want.”
Nikita Gupta, co-founder of careerflow.ai, an AI assistant service which helps candidates with their job searches, agrees that the interview structures should be like a “two-way street.” However, she added that some people may feel offended or surprised if a candidate starts to question them so closely. “It depends interviewer to interviewer, but they might be wondering ‘Why am I being asked this question?’” she said.
She suggests avoiding these questions if the interviewer is a recruiter, rather than a direct manager, or someone you wouldn’t be working with on a day-to-day basis.
However, Peditto suggests that interviewers that do feel offended, reframe how they think about this. “If you’re an interviewer, do you think you’re being aggressive when you ask them behavioral questions, or are you learning about their work style?”
Dustin Siggins, founder of media relations firm Proven Media Solutions has used this approach before, and says that he likes to look at it as “collaborative, not combative” when someone asks him similar questions during the hiring process.
In best-case scenarios, folks who use this approach get a better understanding of the job and the people they’re working with and also stand out by asking questions the interviewer might not have heard in the last five or 10 interviews they did for the same role.
And if you go on to be interviewed by your potential new colleagues, Peditto says it’s worthwhile to take the same approach with them with questions like can you tell me about a time the manager had your back during a conflict with a client, or how did they handle the biggest mistake you made.
“You might get even more realistic answers there,” said Peditto.