Internal Promotion Interview----I got NO questions
January 31, 2015 3:16 PM   Subscribe

You know how at the end of an interview they always ask if you have any questions, well I don't have any questions. Snowflake details inside...

I work at a library and am hoping to be promoted to department manager. I have worked in the system a while and am 100% clear about the job and what it entails, I know the "corporate culture".
What questions can I ask considering I already know everything?*
*being somewhat facetious
I was just hoping to have a wow question since that will be one of the last pieces of the interview.
If I could have more than one question that would be good too, so that I can pick the one that best fits at the time (something not discussed in the interview).
I also don't want to ask a question that may be a good question but is obviously just tacked on.
I plan on taking notes a bit during the interview.
posted by TheLibrarian to Work & Money (19 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I think a good question is "What is the number one quality someone should have to be successful in this role?" That way you know what they want and can feel out whether or not they think you measure up. Plus it shows that you care about performing the role well.
posted by Angel de Lune at 3:22 PM on January 31, 2015 [10 favorites]

I think asking a question about how the role of department manager has evolved over the past ___ years would be a great question. It's also something you wouldn't necessarily know the answer to beforehand.
posted by yellowcandy at 3:23 PM on January 31, 2015 [4 favorites]

Maybe something about new projects coming down the pipeline or opportunities to collaborate with other departments?
posted by jabes at 3:24 PM on January 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

"What would you expect the successful hire to accomplish in the first 6 months?"
posted by synecdoche at 3:29 PM on January 31, 2015 [17 favorites]

If you know everything about the job, then you have ideas about the biggest problems they'll be expecting you to solve, right? So you can ask what the interviewer thinks they are, and see if your ideas match. Either way you'll have something to talk about.

I also don't want to ask a question that may be a good question but is obviously just tacked on.

Why not? I've brought pre-written lists of like ten questions to interviews, that I've picked for relevance to the job, and it seems to go over well when I just keep asking as many questions as there's time for.
posted by clavicle at 3:31 PM on January 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

"How can I make this position better than you're advertising it now?"
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:31 PM on January 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

At a library? If the interview is with executive level people, I'd ask what they picture the library being in 10 years. How does it fit into an increasingly online community? You're going to help them "be the change they want to see." So what do they see?

(Unless this is already posted on every wall and asking would make you look dumb)
posted by ctmf at 3:48 PM on January 31, 2015

Oh, yeah, does the library have a strategic plan you can read to get ideas for questions?
posted by clavicle at 3:50 PM on January 31, 2015

Will you be being interviewed by someone who does or has done the job the you want? If so:

"I've worked with other people in this role for a long time, so I feel like I have a good perspective on what it involves, but I also know there's more to every job than meets the eye. What are the challenges of this job that I might not have seen from my position?"
posted by jacquilynne at 4:59 PM on January 31, 2015 [10 favorites]

I love, "what do you think is the hardest thing about this job?" Both as a hiring manager and as a candidate.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:08 PM on January 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

The question I have asked in this situation is "what is your least favorite thing about working in this [company]?" however, that may be different in the medical field from the business world, typically if you are being interviewed you are likely to get an offer and you interview with several different people in the department, so I like to get various people's perspectives on why they like or dislike working there. It can be very hard to tell what's wrong with a job in my field until you're already in it.

perhaps this could apply to your situation by asking about some of the issues with the new position you're applying for? Surely working in the position will bring new challenges of some sort. maybe you should just directly ask what you might not be aware of, considering the knowledge you already have.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:54 PM on January 31, 2015

on (belated) preview, some variation of what jacquilynne and chesty said, I think is your best bet.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:58 PM on January 31, 2015

Something that really gets you points, and sometimes a lot of interesting discussion, in museum-world interviews, and sometimes works in library interviews, is "In your opinion, what is the strength of the collection?"

I never have questions either, and usually fall back on "I believe you've answered all the questions I had during the course of the interview" and then if it seems necessary, ask the collection strengths question, which a friend passed on to me as a tip.
posted by telophase at 7:47 PM on January 31, 2015

A piece of advice I've heard for internal candidates is to treat the interview as if you are not internal. Sometimes we can be too relaxed as internal candidates. This doesn't mean you should ask questions you know the answers to, but surely there are some things you don't know about the position and how it interacts with various people. Be careful not to assume that things will necessarily stay the same.

Also, it's quite professional and appropriate to have a list of questions with you on a piece of paper to refer to when you need. It can also make sense to have questions for different people you might speak with during the day.

I wouldn't plan on one or two questions to wow them, but ask smart questions you truly want to know answers to.

The blog Hiring Librarians has a database of interview questions (both questions asked of candidates and questions candidates asked interviewers) you might find it helpful to review. Here are some questions that might work:

How might this position be different for the successful candidate than it's been in the past?
What are obstacles for success for the person who holds this position next?
How will the successful candidate be evaluated?

And, of course:
What is the hiring timeline?
posted by bluedaisy at 12:15 AM on February 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Assumptive close. "Do you have any reservations about me taking this position that I can address?"
posted by Kosh at 6:24 AM on February 1, 2015

You could ask what was done well in the past and what they would like to see done differently. You almost certainly have ideas about that, but it would be useful to know what the leadership above the role things.

Also, asking what they want to see accomplished in the first 90 days is always good.
posted by jeoc at 7:36 AM on February 1, 2015

Perhaps my experience is atypical but I've never had 'full on interview' interview for any internal job applications. My internal interviews were a lot more like a chat, normally preceded by an emailed application which provided pertinent facts about relevant experience and why I was interested in the role. Once we got to talk (on the phone) I explained why I wanted the role and highlighted what I could bring to it again and they told me about any pertinent facts I should be aware of, we engaged in a lot of smalltalk. My internal interviews also tended to close with job offers.

So these were light touch interviews, where I had already been assessed as suitable candidate and where, based on our corporate culture and the qualities that allow people to progress in my organisation, there is a general assumption that you can bring strangers from within the organisation into teams and they will work reasonably well with the rest of the team.

So be prepared to deviate from the standard external interview format, if the interviewer does that. Your questions should be relevant in the context of internal applicant. What do they expect you to bring to the role an external applicant can't? Ask about practical things like what the transition from your current role would be like, for example, would they expect you to do both for a bit? As this seems to be a change in grade you could also ask about changes in package. Finally, would they like the focus of the role to change in any way? Be prepared to talk about any changes you would like to see. And see how it goes.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:50 AM on February 1, 2015

It's okay not to have a question. Even in situations when I wasn't already part of the organization, I've often found that any questions I might have had the day before were already covered. So when they asked if I had questions, I just gave a recap: "I'm glad I got a chance to talk with some of the other employees, to get a perspective on day-to-day life; and John gave me a tour of the office, which was great. I already asked Anna in HR all of my benefits questions. And our conversation just now about why you're hiring and why you think analysis skills are something that the group needs, that was really helpful. So I think I'm all set."

Express your enthusiasm and confidence in the good match, and play up how you already know what you need to know. "Any questions? No, I really don't. I have a good feel for the company structure at the [my current job] level, and the whole hiring process has been excellent insight into [next step up]. I think our conversations about [X] clarified that aspect for me, and I'm glad we had a chance to address [changes]."
posted by aimedwander at 6:13 PM on February 1, 2015

Response by poster: My interview is Friday. I got the coveted last spot. I like to think of it as them saving the best for last! Thank you so much for your responses. They were very helpful.
I will keep you posted.
posted by TheLibrarian at 11:34 AM on February 6, 2015

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