During the job interview, your primary concern is what the hiring manager will think of your qualifications. But don't forget the interview is also an opportunity for you to evaluate a potential employer. In fact, it's the best chance you have to determine if the company and its prevailing culture are right for you.
Consider the situation if the roles were reversed. What would you want to know if you were interviewing the hiring manager? What would convince you that this is the perfect workplace for you?
Ask yourself the following questions during the interview to turn the tables on the hiring manager and get a true sense of what working for the company would be like:
How does the company's résumé stack up?
The hiring manager will be paying close attention to your résumé, so it only makes sense that you scrutinize the firm's, too.
The company's annual report can give you a good idea about the financial health of the organization, its stability and its future prospects. Press releases and marketing materials can provide insight into how the company differentiates itself from competitors and what is unique about the products or services it offers. These documents are typically available on the firm's website.
Also search the Web to get a more complete sense of the potential employer's reputation. Social media, in particular, can be revealing. What are people saying about the firm on Facebook, Twitter and similar services? Are the comments mostly positive or negative?
And don't forget to speak to those in your professional network, especially individuals who have worked for the company or might be able to put you in touch with someone who has.
How prepared is the hiring manager?
You arrived on time to the interview, brought extra copies of your résumé, and spent hours going over potential questions and answers. Did the hiring manager prepare as thoroughly as you?
If the interviewer keeps you waiting past the scheduled time, hasn't read your résumé or simply seems to be winging it, think about what it would be like to work for that person. Would he or she leave you waiting during meetings or provide only limited information on important projects?
You don't want to read too much into the actions of a hiring manager who may be busy or stressed. But several small slights could reveal a pattern.
How does the work environment align with my needs?
A hiring manager is trying to determine your personality and how you would fit in with other employees. You should do the same.
When visiting the company, try to get a sense of how people in the office operate. Are people rushing around, looking stressed, or is the atmosphere relaxed? Do people talk with each other in the hallways or keep their heads down? How employees work and interact with each other can be indicative of what the corporate culture is like.
How does the hiring manager answer my questions?
Before the interview concludes, make sure you have an opportunity to ask your own questions. Ask about any concerns you have. For example, you may want information about the professional development resources provided to employees or more specifics about the open position. You might also ask about the hiring manager's personal experiences with the firm. How long has he or she been employed there? Why does the interviewer like working for the company?
Pay attention not only to the interviewer's answers but also to the way he or she responds to your queries. When talking about the company, for instance, do you sense true passion and engagement? Or does the person seem to be rehashing standard marketing points?
Interviewing the interviewer doesn't involve actually switching roles with the hiring manager. But it does require you to think about the qualities you seek in an employer. By asking yourself -- and the potential employer -- the right questions, you can gain get a deeper understanding of the firm and be confident in your decision if you're extended a job offer.