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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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The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

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Leadership 99,722 views

15 Interview Questions To Ask Your Next Boss

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4. What part of the job, from your perspective, will require the longest or most complicated learning curve? How will your new hire get the learning s/he needs to come up that curve — by trying things, by interviewing other employees, or in another way?

5. Can you tell me about the composition of the team that you manage, and how this job description we’re discussing fits into the rest of the department?

6. What are your department’s goals for 2015? Where did those goals come from — did you devise them yourself, or in collaboration with your team, or did they come from higher up in the organization or emerge another way?

7. Who is your boss, and what is his or her job all about? How does your role fit into his or hers? How does your boss’s job intersect with the topmost goals of the organization?

8. What constitutes a workday here? I’m sure there is a boundless supply of work to keep everyone busy 24/7/365, so how do you decide when to go home? What are the norms around working on the weekend and in the evenings, answering email and voice mail messages after hours, and so on?

9. What major events or trends going on in the organization or in the recent past shape your 2015 plans, and what major events or themes do you envision coming to the fore over the next 12 months?

10. How did you get to your current role — what’s your career story?

11. Can you tell me your stance and the company’s stance, if it has one, on social media, using LinkedIn LNKD -1.31%, having a presence on Twitter TWTR -2.69%, and so on? What are the cultural norms around using social media here?

12. What is the typical career path for a person in this role, after doing a tremendous job in this position? Is there a history of folks moving from this role into other jobs in the organization? I would love to hear some of those stories.

13. What is the history of this job? Was there someone in the role, and if so, what happened to create a vacancy now? If it is a new role, what is the story behind the emergence of this position? Did you have internal applicants for the job?

I ask because if I should be offered this job and accept, I would be very sensitive to internal currents that might be associated with a person who already works here having interviewed for the job without receiving an offer.

14. How do you and your team communicate? Do you have a regular staff meeting and if so, what is the format for that meeting? How do you like to check in with your team members — through face-to-face one-on-one meetings, or in another way? How do you track your team members’ progress against milestones? How do you prefer for your team members to communicate with you — via email, or face to face or in another way?

15. If you could be any kind of animal, what kind would you be? Just kidding!

Have fun interviewing your next boss. If you use a few of these questions that speak to you, it should be an enlightening experience for  both of you. The truth is that most hiring managers have never thought about the majority of these questions before. You aren’t getting paid for your time on the interview, but you’re coaching your next boss anyway!

WATCH: Sheryl Sandberg On Time Management and Saying ‘No’

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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.

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  • 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.

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