Questions for the questioners
March 16, 2018 2:27 PM   Subscribe

Just found out I made it to the second round of interviews for an internal position. Interview is on Monday. The grapevine says the hiring manager/position supervisor will not be on the panel so I'm having a hard time coming up with questions to ask at the end of the interview.

At the end of the first round, I asked clarification questions about the posting and the panel could only give an educated guess. Normally I'd ask about the person's management style, the near-term priorities, the office culture, attributes I'd need in order to be successful, etc. The supervisor has only been with our department since December so I don't think the panel will have a lot of insight into her management style. Since its internal, I already know this is a new position and I know the office culture. What should I ask?
posted by erloteiel to Work & Money (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Since you're an internal transfer, you know the company culture, but you may not know the culture of the group you would be part of. I suggest that you ask a question or two designed to determine the group style, i.e. does everyone go home immediately at quitting time, does anyone eat lunch together. Also ask what they see as the greatest challenges for the group, and for the group's management.
posted by blob at 2:30 PM on March 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Who will be on the panel? Other people on the team? The hiring manager's boss? People on other teams you will be working with? Answers will vary.

I tend to ask people on other teams that I would be working with questions like "if you were picking my priority list, what project would I do first", stuff like that, trying to get some ideas about what they would want you to do. If it's other people on the team, then it's a great opportunity to ask about the team culture and the managerial style and how the team works together. If it's more senior people, then I think you could still ask a lot of the same things you'd ask the manager.
posted by brainmouse at 2:33 PM on March 16, 2018

From your perspective, what do you think will be the hardest thing about this role?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 2:44 PM on March 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

"how do you interact with the person in this role"; "what do you need from the person in this role"
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:53 PM on March 16, 2018

"What would make me successful in this role?" or "How will my success in this role be measured?"
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:19 PM on March 16, 2018

Double yes to "metrics" by which you will be measured.

Specific roles and responsibilities, reporting structure (both up and down) and whether there are "co-equal" employees to that position.

Is the budget flexible or strictly defined. What happens to unspent budget/ cost overruns (if applicable).
posted by porpoise at 4:02 PM on March 16, 2018

Some generically good questions that I think would work well here:

- What would a typically day look like in this job?
- What do you think are the biggest challenges in this job? (or a little more positively: what's some advice you would give someone in this job?)
- What skills do you think are the most important that a person in this job have?
- What would be the priorities of this role in the first month/six months/year? (pick one)
- If there's someone on the panel who would be a peer of the person in the role: what could someone in this role do to make your work go better/be easier?
- If there's someone on the panel who would be on the same team: what do you like about working on this team?
posted by lunasol at 4:07 PM on March 16, 2018

* What other teams will this team be working with?
* What do you perceive as the bottlenecks in this position - what causes troublesome slowdowns in the work?
* Why is this position being created - who used to do this work, or is it a new thing entirely?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:28 PM on March 16, 2018

Response by poster: The hiring manager is Deputy Director (executive title). I know one person on the panel is a division manager under her. I don't know who else will be there. The first panel was made up of two supervisors who report to her division managers and a division manager who reports to a different executive.

The role I'm trying for is a solo role managing her special projects related to her teams but not on a team.
posted by erloteiel at 5:40 PM on March 16, 2018

Ask questions you really want the answer to, not ones you think will impress the panel.

I'd be thinking, is this position valuable to me in the long-term? Maybe I know I would enjoy it, but would that be at the cost of stagnating my career path? So I might ask, "You've seen my experience history, and I appreciate your perspective on this: what valuable skills and experience is this position going to develop for me?"

It's also important to me to have a sense of purpose at work. Not just in having a mission I believe in, although that's important, too. I like to be in a group that does meta-analysis, self-reflection, constant improvement. I hate being in a group where I'm constantly getting resistance to change, not-invented-here syndrome, "that's the way we've always done it" complacency, and basically just working to keep the wheels from falling off day by day. So I would ask some questions to probe if there is a vision for the future. What would you change about how the department/division works if you could? What's your biggest frustration or challenge? What's the biggest lesson learned in this area recently? Are there any innovative ideas on the horizon that could help us accomplish the mission more effectively? If the people directly managing the group aren't there, then the panel members could still answer for the company more generally. Mostly the reaction to a question like that tells me more than the answer.

But don't ask a question if you don't really care what the answer is. It's so, so obvious and it's a pretty big turn-off for me as the interviewer. You don't have to ask questions if you really don't have any.
posted by ctmf at 3:57 PM on March 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

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