Most candidates know they need to ask questions during interviews but some questions are just hard to ask. I call these pin questions. Pin questions float like an invisible balloon in the interview room and candidates hesitate to ask them.
They worry. Asking these types of questions may make them appear too direct, confrontational or even threatening. The real reason you don’t ask them is because like a sharp pin they might burst your wonderful floating balloon that this is a perfect opportunity for you.
We all like to stay our comfort zone and see the best in everything around us. Unfortunately, that’s not the best strategy when you are making a life decision such as making a career change. This is particularly critical when you are currently employed but looking for a better opportunity and are not particularly unhappy. You may be better off staying where you are and patiently waiting for something else to come along if you are entering a potentially volatile environment.
Some pin questions to ask recruiters or hiring authorities are:
- What happened to the last person in the role?
- What is your turnover like?
- How will I know if I’m doing poorly?
- When was the last time the company had a layoff?
- How would you describe your management style?
Being a recruiter and someone who has admittedly less to lose in the conversation, I ask my client these question when I begin a relationship with them. And yes, sometimes its awkward, but these are things that I need to know. I have no interest in proactively recruiting and evaluating high performing candidates and putting them in a situation that could be less than desirable.
Interviews need to be a dialogue. You need to evaluate your potential employer as they are evaluating you. The last thing you need is a surprise when you start and find out it is not at all what you were expecting. I’ve heard many stories like that and unfortunately more than often it was because they didn’t ask the pin questions. Don’t be afraid to burst the balloon. The best decision is an informed one.