Job interviews are typically seen as a one-way street – employers asking the questions and candidates providing the answers. While your primary goal in an interview is to advance in the hiring process, it’s also an opportunity to evaluate whether or not the job is a good fit for you. This is where a reverse interview comes in. It empowers you to take a more active role in the conversation. After all, you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you.
What is a reverse interview?
A reverse interview, also known as a “reverse job interview” or “candidate-led interview,” is a type of job interview where the candidate asks the questions. The purpose of a reverse interview is for the candidate to gain a deeper understanding of the company, team, and job role, and to assess whether the organization is the right fit for their career goals and values.
During a reverse interview, the candidate typically asks questions that go beyond the surface-level information provided in the job description or initial interviews. These questions are designed to uncover important details about the company’s culture, expectations, and work environment, as well as to assess whether the company aligns with the candidate’s professional and personal aspirations.
In a reverse interview, you gather information that goes beyond what is typically found in job descriptions or company websites. This proactive approach not only demonstrates the candidate’s genuine interest in the position. It also helps them make informed decisions about whether the company and role are the right fit for their skills, values, and career aspirations.
By engaging in a two-way conversation, you gain valuable insights into the work environment, expectations, and growth potential within the company. Ultimately, a reverse interview is a powerful tool for both the candidate and the employer, fostering a more transparent and collaborative hiring process where both parties can assess if there is a mutual fit and alignment of goals.
The benefits of a reverse interview
Showcasing your interest
- A reverse interview is a golden opportunity to demonstrate your genuine interest in the company and the role. By asking insightful questions, you convey that you are not just looking for any job but are invested in finding the right fit.
Assessing cultural alignment
- Culture is a crucial aspect of job satisfaction. A reverse interview allows you to delve into the company’s values, work environment, and team dynamics. This insight helps you evaluate whether the organization aligns with your professional and personal values.
- Flip the script and ask about the day-to-day responsibilities, project expectations, and success metrics for the role. This not only shows your proactive approach but also ensures you have a clear understanding of what is expected in the position.
Gaining insider perspectives
- Engaging in a reverse interview provides you with valuable insights from those on the inside. Ask about the challenges and opportunities the team faces, and listen for cues on how the company addresses these aspects. This firsthand information is priceless.
How to prepare for a reverse interview
- Before the interview, delve into the company’s culture, recent projects, and any news or updates. This knowledge equips you to ask specific and informed questions, showcasing your dedication and preparation.
Craft thoughtful questions
- Prepare a list of questions that go beyond the superficial. Inquire about the team’s collaboration style, the company’s approach to innovation, or any recent successes. Thoughtful questions demonstrate your strategic thinking and genuine interest.
Related: Best Reverse Interview Questions; How to Offer Reverse Interviews
Tailor your questions
- Customize your questions based on the role and industry. Tailoring your queries to the specifics of the position not only showcases your understanding but also highlights your suitability for the role.
Practice active listening
- During the reverse interview, practice active listening. Pay attention to the responses and use them to guide follow-up questions. This not only demonstrates your engagement but also allows for a more natural and dynamic conversation.
Related: Want to Ace Behavioral Interviews? A Guide to Prep Jobseekers
3 examples of questions to ask in a reverse interview
There are many questions you could ask to learn more about the organization, the company culture, the nature of the work, and measures of success in the job. Here are a few questions to shed some light during the reverse interview on what it might be like to work for that employer.
Related: What Questions to Ask Your Interviewer During Your Employer OnSite
1. What decisions can I make without approvals?
It’s important to know how much autonomy you’ll have performing your job function. It’s even more important to ensure your expectations are aligned. The details can be worked out after you start the job, but it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into ahead of time. Will you be working for a micromanager or someone who gives you direction and lets you run with it?
A more senior role may come with more autonomy, while a junior position will have less. Countless decisions can range from expenditures to resource allocation to agreements with vendors and other partners, depending on the specific job function. The important thing is to get an understanding of the degree of autonomy you will have in the context of the job role and level of seniority.
For an engineering or technical role, understand:
- the limits of your authority to determine the course of a project
- the approach to solving a particular problem
- when and how to engage with other parts of the organization
2. How does the team communicate?
Effective communication is a critical factor in the success of any organization. Work has become increasingly collaborative, especially in engineering and technical fields, and communication styles can vary widely among managers. Exploring how team members communicate with each other and with the manager will give you an indication of the pace of work and team dynamics.
Technology has given us a wide range of communication and collaboration tools for real-time messaging, document sharing, and audio and video conferencing. Which of these tools are in use within the organization, and which ones the manager prefers to use, is an important element of the work environment. Is the role remote? If so, it’s even more critical to understand integration into team meetings and the daily flow of communication.
- Do they prefer written or verbal communication?
- Do they like to meet face to face when possible?
- Do they want regular updates, or do they only need to know when something deviates from the plan?
Think about how these communication styles compare with your preferences. Consider how you might accommodate any differences.
3. How do you bring out the best in people?
It goes without saying: you’ll present yourself as a self-motivated and driven professional during the interview. But a good manager understands the importance of creating an environment for each individual on their team to flourish. How an organization views this aspect provides insight into their values and working for them.
- Do they take an interest in the professional development of their team members?
- How do they remove roadblocks and protect the team from internal and external demands that distract from the true priorities?
- To what extent do you have opportunities to be mentored or coached?
Discussing these topics shows you how supportive you can expect this person to be.
Use reverse interview questions to find the right fit
Asking for a reverse interview is not just a bold move; it’s a strategic one. The interviewing process is all about finding the right fit, and this applies equally to the employer and the jobseeker. Is the job a good match for your skills, interests, and values?
If so, there is a foundation for a good working relationship and you are more likely to be a productive and successful employee. By actively participating in the conversation, you position yourself as a candidate who is not only qualified but also deeply committed to finding the right professional home.
Source: Talent Acquisition - hired.com