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Flip the Script: Questions to Ask Yourself & Your Interviewer When Applying for a Job

When you’re ready to start looking for your first job or are ready to switch careers, you likely spend a lot of time preparing for the questions the employer will be asking you. What job applicants often forget is that they can’t truly know whether or not the company or the role will be the perfect fit for them unless they take the time to ask themselves and their interviewer(s) questions, too!  

Young woman shaking hands with job interviewer.

Ahead of searching for a job and applying—and even during and following the interview process—you should get in-tune with yourself and constantly be asking yourself questions so you know you’re heading in the right direction for the right reasons. Don’t forget to check-in with yourself before, during, and after applying and interviewing for a job and answer yourself honestly.

As for asking your interviewer(s) questions, we know the idea of asking a potential new employer questions during the interview process may seem a little intimidating and even backwards, but doing so will not only help you get a better idea of what you can expect should you be hired, it shows the interviewer(s) you’re serious about the opportunity and that you’ve done some additional research and thinking ahead of coming into your interview.

I sat down with 3Rivers Recruiting Coordinator, Sarah Hodgin, to get her insight on flipping the script by asking questions of yourself and of your potential new employer.

Here are her top tips to keep in mind:

Ask Yourself:

  • Am I looking for a job or a career? First, ask yourself why you’re applying for a job—the driving factor in doing so, the level of commitment you plan to have for it, etc. Really question and determine whether you’re looking for a job or a career in order to decide what parts of the total package (pay, benefits, hours, and so on) are most important to you. Perhaps you’re in a position now where you’re just looking for a temporary job with flexible hours and a little extra spending money while you attend college. In this case, you might not be looking for something long-term with all the bells and whistles like a 401K company match and health insurance. Come up with a list of the key things you’re looking for in a job before applying.
  • What kinds of benefits are most important to me? While an attractive salary is enticing, make sure you’re not solely focused on just that one element. What benefits and perks are important to you? Great insurance? A 401K match? The ability to work remotely?  Jot those down and prepare to ask about them in your interview.

Ask Your Interviewer:

  • Company Culture: While the role itself may sound in-line with what you want for yourself, you want to make sure the company culture is a fit, too. Consider asking:
    • How would you describe the company culture here? What about the team I’d be working with?
    • What would my training entail?
    • What does the company have to offer that similar companies might not?
    • What kind of development opportunities does the company offer employees?
  • Your Role: Especially if you’re looking to start a long-term career, you should have a good idea of what’s expected of you in this role now and down the road. Ask questions like:
    • Is this a new role? If so, how did it come to be and how is it expected to move the team/company forward?
    • What are the primary expectations of this role now and how do you see the role evolving in the future?
    • What kind of flexibility does this role offer in working remotely?
    • Can you tell me a bit about the structure of the team I’d be working on?
  • Benefits: In addition to salary, it’s important to understand all of the benefits that come with your package so you can appropriately weigh your options. Some questions you can ask to get a better idea include:
    • Is there any incentive pay/bonus structure? How do I qualify for that?
    • What does vacation time look like? Is sick/personal time offered?
    • Does the company offer insurance? Do I need to be full time for insurance/when do I become eligible?
    • When do I become eligible for 401K contributions? Does the company provide any match?
    • Is there a tuition reimbursement program? Do any degrees qualify or specific subjects?

The key is that there are no wrong questions in terms of understanding what is provided in the total pay package, so do not hesitate to ask!

It’s Okay to Negotiate:

So, you’ve been offered the position but the pay and/or benefits aren’t quite where you were hoping they’d be. Don’t be afraid to negotiate! When it comes to pay, do your research and go in knowing the market pay grade is for the position you’ve applied for. Keep in mind that sometimes companies can’t change the starting rate-of-pay for a position, but they may be able to provide an extra couple of days of vacation, the perk of working from home, or other benefits that are meaningful to you. Often, candidates don’t realize they have the ability to ask for more rather than simply taking what’s offered initially. Don’t fear companies taking it personally should you choose to negotiate!

We’d love to help you on your college and career journey! Contact our Youth & College Support Team by email or by phone at 260.399.8265.

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