You've updated your resume. Check. Your portfolio is good to go, you've looked at all the job posting sites, submitted your application, and are scheduled for an interview. Check, check, check, check. During the interview, most of the time is spent answering questions about you and your work. The last 10-15 minutes are usually reserved for questions you may have about the company. This is your time to dig deeper to see if this position and company is the right fit for you.
10–15 minutes isn't a lot of time, so how do you get the most out of it? You should come prepared with a list of questions. Questions along the lines of:
- What is this company's process for delivering quality work?
- What does a typical day look like for this role?
- What is the office culture like?
- What is your favorite thing about working here?
- What is the organizational structure and how is this team managed?
Asking these questions will certainly give you a glimpse into how they operate, but there is one question that I've found always reveals deeper insight into both the company and the individual you're interviewing with. I ask this as my last question of the interview and I make sure to ask everyone in the room to answer it individually. It usually goes like this, "If you had a magic wand and could change anything at all about this company, what would you change?" Using the magic wand analogy for this question removes all limitations, the answers aren't confined to what is practical within the company structure, budgets, or philosophy so the answers reveal a lot more and there is no wrong answer.
The answers I have received in the past reveal things like, is there enough feedback being given during a project? Are the timelines reasonable? Is the company fair about compensation? Is the company diverse and do they promote diversity? Do they collaborate as much as they say they do? Are the projects frustrating or rewarding? The list goes on. When asking this question, you gain an authentic look into some of the core values and issues that people there have.
If you're able to ask this to enough people at a company, you can start to put the pieces together and decide if this is the right place for you. It also helps you learn more about the people you'll be working with. After all, the person interviewing you will most likely be your manager or your peer. Wouldn't you want to know a bit more about them as well? Give it a try during your next interview and see what insights you can uncover.