Job interviews are generally perceived as a one-way street opportunity for employers to get a better sense of a candidate and whether that person would be the right fit for the organisation.

But, says Manpower Group SA MD Lyndy van den Barselaar, job interviews also provide the perfect chance for job seekers to get in a few pertinent questions that will help them assess whether the company they’re interviewing for is the best place for them to be working.

“While you will be preparing to answer questions about your skills, experience and future vision, you should also be thinking about some questions to ask your interviewer. These may be based around the role you will be taking on, the structure of the team, the organisation itself or ways of working,” she says.

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“Take advantage of this opportunity. Not only will you demonstrate a clear understanding of the job market, but it is an opportunity for you to showcase clear communication skills and a forward-thinking attitude – all of which are important traits for success in the modern business environment.”

These are the four interview questions van den Barselaar suggests all job seekers ask in an interview that will help you gain deeper insight into the position you are interviewing for and the expectations of your performance.  
 1) What is one accomplishment you would like to see from me in the first 90 days?
The purpose of this question is to ascertain exactly what the company expects to see from their employees from a performance perspective.

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It also shows your prospective boss that you care about the needs of the company and it illustrates your willingness to apply thought to the day-to-day requirements of the job.

“The questions you ask can say a lot about you, and asking this kind of question displays an interest in the role and how success will be measured,” Van den Barselaar advises. 

2) When you hire someone for this position, what will be the most pressing challenge they will face on the first day?

This question allows you to delve into the nitty-gritty of the pressures you’re likely to face in your first week on the new job.

“Make sure your interviewer understands that you really care about the details of the job and not just the onboarding process. Understanding the role as well as possible is important in making decisions around whether it is right for you,” she says. 

3) What are your expectations for this position six months from now? And in two years?

 “The answer to this question will help you to gauge the longevity of the position, the growth opportunities around the position and the importance of this position within the broader organisation,” Van den Barselaar says.

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“This is important information to be armed with when making your decisions around taking on a new job.”

4) What kind of career coaching do you provide for employees? 

The best way to approaching this question is presenting it in terms of how training you would ultimately play to company’s benefit.

“Start a career conversation with your potential employer in the job interview by letting them know that you understand your success translates into their success,” advises Van den Barselaar.

“Not only will this demonstrate your knowledge around the evolving business landscape and the dwindling lifespan of skills, but will also position you as a candidate focused on the success of the organisation as well as your own. What’s more, you’ll be able to gauge the opportunities for further skills development, should you take on the role.”