At any job interview you’ve been to before, you were probably asked toward the end if you had any questions of your own to ask. This is a crucial moment in any interview, and your response could make the difference between landing your next big marketing career move or getting overshadowed by another candidate.
The job interview isn’t a one-way interaction, and in many ways you should be evaluating your potential employers just as thoroughly as they’re considering and testing you. Whether you’re applying for your first junior level creative staffing position right out of college, or you’re being recruited for a marketing executive search, take advantage of this opportunity to set yourself apart as a candidate and make sure the job and company are right for you.
Why Ask Questions?
Before knowing the kind of question to ask, it’s important to understand why you’re asking them in the first place. Too many candidates see this as a formulaic interview formality to check off their list. In reality, it’s first and foremost an opportunity to learn.
Most importantly, you should be asking questions to verify that this role is really a good fit for your skills and interests, and that it’s a meaningful step forward on your ultimate marketing career path. This is your opportunity to learn more about how you’ll be spending a huge portion of your day-to-day life—think carefully and make sure it’s somewhere you’ll find personally satisfying and exciting. Consider what you hope to give–and get–in this role, and craft your questions accordingly.
Secondary in importance but still valuable, your questions are a way to show extra interest in the role, your drive to succeed, and more of your own experience, personality and expertise. Specific inquiries about company activities and events in the marketplace show you’ve done your homework, know how to prepare, and are especially enthusiastic about the opportunity. And well-aimed questions about what the role’s definition of success looks like and how it’s measured display your commitment to achieving the organization’s goals and arms you with valuable information that helps you frame discussions in future interviews.
The kind of questions you ask your interviewer should vary depending on who is conducting that specific interview:
Managers: Most frequently, you’ll get interviewed by your future boss, or someone who is on that level. It’s always a good idea to ask about their vision for the organization and how this open position fits into that picture.
Peers: Sometimes you’ll find yourself being interviewed by a future colleague who is at a similar level in the org chart as the position you’re hoping to get (and may even have the same title). In this case, it’s a good idea to ask questions that indicate that you’re a cooperative and supportive team member that will work well alongside them. These individuals are usually the best to ask about the workplace environment, day-to-day responsibilities, what it takes to succeed in the company’s culture at that level, and what they think of the company’s leadership and direction.
Subordinate: As marketing recruiters we typically don’t recommend that companies do this, but you may eventually find yourself interviewed by someone who would report directly to whoever fills the role. If that happens, it’s a good idea to ask questions about the management styles they prefer, what they need to succeed, and what they want to do with their own careers.
So one of the big things you need to be ready for as a candidate at any level if you’re looking for a marketing role is what questions you are going to ask. You’re going into the interview to certainly answer their questions but what questions are you going to ask relative to letting them know: A) you’re interested and B) more importantly making sure this is the right next step for you.
So you can show your interest in by some of the research you’ve done on their organization and ask questions specific to their business. And depending on who your interviewing with you can ask questions specifically on where the business intersects their role.
If you’re talking to someone who is going to be a peer you want to ask questions that show that you’re a team player right so you’re the kind of person that all ships rise when the tide rises.
If you’re talking to someone who could ultimately be a direct report which, generally we think is a bad idea to have those people interviewing their future manager in the first place but it does happen, then you want to make sure that you find out from them what kind of leadership style they prefer and then make sure that as the manager that they feel like they have a voice and someone that they can come talk to.
And ultimately if you’re talking to your manager, your future manager or someone of their peer level you really need to understand where they see the organization but more importantly where they want this person to help move the organization. So what does success look like for you for this role and you may get different answers for that and that in and of itself is not a red flag relative to the opportunity.
Each person that you interact with will have some different ideas on what they want this person to do especially if the role is new and has never been done before. So ultimately as long as the long term goal and the long term vision is consistent there may be little nuances that are different.