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Liz Ryan Contributor

I write about bringing life to work and bringing work to life. full bio →

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for ten million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997, but it took me ages to find my own voice. Now I write for the Huffington Post, Business Week, LinkedIn, the Harvard Business Review, the Denver Post and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. Stop by and join us: http://www.humanworkplace.com

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Leadership 99,720 views

15 Interview Questions To Ask Your Next Boss

I would hate to think that you would take a new job at a place where they didn’t at some point stop the interview process to ask you “Do you have any questions for us?”

All good employers do that. If you don’t get the chance to ask your questions, don’t even think about taking the job! Remember what your Aunt Liz always tells you: they will never love you more than they love you just when they’re trying to recruit you. If you feel like chopped liver at that stage in the interview pipeline, run away fast.

They’re probably going to ask you “Do you have any questions to ask us about the job?”  You have to have some questions ready to ask. Ask the HR person about issues concerning the employee benefits programs.

A lot of department managers don’t have that information top of mind and anyway, it’s the HR person’s job to share that kind of information with job candidates. When you’re interviewing with your hiring manager a/k/a Your Possible Next Next Boss, ask questions about the job itself — questions about the job responsibilities and issues you are likely to run into.

Your best questions in a job interview will not come from a script. They will come from your own brain, as you listen to your hiring manager talking about the position. Questions will naturally occur to you.

This script lays out how one job-seeker got deep into the purpose and structure of the job. When you do that — when you use your interview time with your hiring manager to spin the table and talk about the pain behind the job ad, rather than sitting like a sheep in the chair and bleating out the answers to questions they ask you — two good things happen.

For one thing, you learn a lot more about the job by asking ‘pain’-type questions than by answering one question and sitting in silence to wait for the next one. The even cooler thing that happens when you get into a pithy pain conversation on a job interview is that the hiring manager falls in love with you, professionally speaking.

He or she is dying to hire you, because you’re the only job candidate who got into the guts of the job to talk about what isn’t working.

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  • Laura Cessac Laura Cessac 1 week ago

    Thank you againg for a great article. This has been very helpful to me. I will be going to an interview on Monday and am researching ways to help me obtain the position.

  • Jeanne Noyes Jeanne Noyes 1 week ago

    As an executive assistant one of the two questions I always ask, “In your career, what are the best/worst traits of administrative professionals you have worked with.” This question has thrown people for a loop, but it always considered a really good question to ask.

    I also ask how they handle stress, do they work out, do they just yell it out, gives me in sight into their inner workings.

    I see an interview as a way for me to decide if I would like working for them.

  • Besides a great list of questions, Liz is absolutely correct in her assertion that the organization will never love you more than when you are being sought. I compare it with courtship — when were you treated most attentively by your significant other, before or after the relationship was established? Ever have a boyfriend or a girlfriend? When were you on your best behavior? When were they? If you feel neglected, mistreated or taken for granted during the interview process, run away, unless you like abuse. None of the questions are confidential or require vast disclosure of confidential information or proprietary intellectual property. If they can’t answer the questions reasonably well or are hesitant because “that’s confidential,” it may mean that the place has a really ugly culture. If people look or act scared, be scared. It will only get worse.