There comes a moment in every job interview when you’re asked if you have any questions of your potential employer.
Your brain may go into temporary freeze mode, but when it thaws, there is a series of important questions to ask that will help you decide whether the job is right for you.
These questions focus on the role of your potential manager: What is their background and experience? How long have they been at this company? How many staff do they manage?
A decade ago, jobseekers wouldn’t dream of asking such questions. But today’s job market has swung in the favour of applicants.
In what has been coined the ‘great job boom’, job hunters are sifting through a a wider choice of roles. Data from employment marketplace, SEEK shows job ad volumes surged by 32.2 per cent in March 2022 compared to the same time last year.
So every insight into a prospective job helps jobseekers determine which role to select and knowing more about their future boss is an important part of that decision process.
Why do you need to know the background and experience of your future manager?
Information is key to relationship building and the more you have in the early stages of a new job will help you tailor your strengths to fit into a new team, said Kirsty Anne Ferguson, SEEK spokesperson, interview coach and founder of Interview Chix.
“Who you directly report to has a huge impact on your day-to-day job satisfaction so knowing how your future manager works, what their expectations are, and what their professional background is critical to knowing if the team culture is right for you and how to work within it,” she said.
“It is also critical to building a good working relationship with them. You may be coming in with more industry specific experience than your manager or from a highly fluid work environment while they are a highly structured person.
“Neither is right or wrong, however you are bringing different strengths to the table so knowing this will help both of you navigate tasks and how you contribute and support each other.”
What to ask
Ferguson advises the following questions, which are designed to deliver the best understanding of a manager’s working style and the workplace culture they are a part of:
- Who will I be working with?
- Which manager will I report to?
- Does the manager like daily feedback or reporting or weekly updates?
- Is there an opportunity to contribute to other areas in the department?
- Is there a specific gap in skillset the team or manager wishes to fill, or thinks is lacking?
How to respectfully seek this info during the interview process
Jobseekers may feel anxious about asking direct questions of people who may be their boss one day.
“There is nothing wrong with asking direct questions about the team or manager you will work directly with,” Ferguson said.
“Remember, interviews are a two-way street. You might even know the manger’s name before you get to interview, so do some research and Google them.
“I also find that most hiring teams are happy to discuss the direct reports work style and experience and that person will often be on the hiring team so volunteer the information as part of the introduction.”
Visit SEEK Career Advice for insights and tips to help you advance your career journey.