Recently, the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) contacted top business leaders to ask the question, “What ONE question do you wish potential employees would ALWAYS ask you during an interview? Why?”
Here are their answers:
1. Why wouldn’t I want to work here?
“I think this question frames transparency on both the potential new hire and her future boss. It forces both people to have an honest look at the challenges that accompany the job, rather than just the benefits of it. And for the hiring manager, it shows that the interviewee is willing to make an honest assessment of her abilities and desires to complete the prospective work.”
— Michael Costigan, Youth Leadership Specialist
2. Who doesn’t buy from you, and why?
“This question exemplifies the candidate’s desire to understand the product/service, an awareness of varying target markets, a rational approach to sales, an understanding of the necessity of sales and a willingness to ask bold questions. It can positively impact her strategic approach.”
— Emily Eldridge Holdman, PeopleKit
3. What’s one thing I would learn?
“We want people who not only want to work here, but want to learn! Having someone come in, do his job, not challenge anything and essentially be a well-written robot is just average. We want employees who are constantly trying to learn, push the envelope and come up with compelling new ideas. Anyone can do a job, but can you do your job and push your team at the same time?”
— Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
4. What’s your business model?
“It always worries me when a candidate isn’t interested in how we’re going to be able to pay them. I typically assume it’s because they either don’t feel comfortable asking (which implies they’ll hold back with their opinions in the future) or they haven’t thought about it (which suggests they’re not really thinking this thing through).”
— Derek Flanzraich, Greatist
5. How can I add value?
“Employees who take the focus off convincing me to like them and transition to how they can meet the needs of my business are the winners in my eyes. Ultimately, you receive a job because you will add value. “
— Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E®
6. Do you see any gaps in my qualifications?
“By asking about areas to improve upon, a potential hire shows a level of self-assessment that’s a great indicator of motivation for a future employee. We like employees who are self-sufficient and can improve themselves with guidance from our team.”
— Jared Christopherson, Yellowhammer
7. What’s your long-term vision?
“By asking what our long-term vision is, it shows that an employee is interested in the long haul and the mission/vision of the company.”
— Kit Hickey, Ministry of Supply
8. What do you believe in as a company?
“What do you believe in as a company? Our values drive everything and are the foundation of all we do. They’re so important to us that we want to find people who share the same values, first and foremost.”
— Chuck Longanecker, digital-telepathy
9. What are the opportunities for growth?
“I always wonder, when I enter a role, what the opportunities for growth on a personal (training, learning) and professional (promotion, career trajectory) level are. If a potential employee doesn’t ask me this, it seems like he’s rushing into the role and doesn’t have an adequate long-term vision.”
— Christopher Pruijsen, Sterio.me
10. What have employees in similar roles done to succeed?
“What have employees in similar roles done to hit the ground running, and what traits and capabilities have helped them succeed? There is a misconception, especially with less-experienced people, that new hires bring instant value. Even if he/she has the skills, learning how things work, what questions to ask and what to focus on learning in the early days is critical. ”
— Steph Beer, nsight2day
11. What motivates you in life?
“This is a question I ask them, but they never ask me. They all want to know how to get a higher salary or more responsibilities, but I can actually sense if they really want to work with passionate people by whether or not they ask me how I am motivated. If they feel I’m aligned with the culture or environment they want to be around, then they feel comfortable making the choice to work with us.”
— Derek Capo, Next Step China
12. What is a typical vs. atypical day in the office?
“What is a typical day like, and what would a non-typical day be like? This is a great question that could weed out many applicants from the get-go. The first half of the question clears up the number of hours, work environment and responsibilities. The second half lets me discuss situations where they may have to perform above and beyond the usual tasks. This is an indicator for productivity.”
— Jay Wu, A Forever Recovery
This article first appeared on Brazen Life, a career blog for young professionals.