A job interview has multiple components. Interviewers will likely take some time upfront to discuss your work history and do a general assessment of your fit for the role and company. And oftentimes they'll leave 10 to 15 minutes at the end for you to ask some questions of your own.
You'll want to fill that time by asking about the role, company and people who are interviewing you — so make sure to do your homework on all three before you come in. But according to former Google recruiter Nolan Church, there's also one question every job candidate should ask:
To begin with, asking your interviewers about their most critical problems gives you a chance to see if, on the ground, this is really a job you want to do.
It gives you the chance to think about, "do you actually want to solve those types of problems?" says Church, now the CEO of talent marketplace Continuum. "And then how does the team respond to your approach? Are they open to new ideas? Or are they kind of stuck in their ways?"
Ultimately, it's a way to feel out, "are you aligned" with them, he says.
The other benefit of asking this question is, if you decide you are interested in pursuing this opportunity, it can start setting you up for success.
"We wouldn't open up a new role unless there were more problems to solve," says Church. By assessing what the most critical problem for the team is even during the job interview, you can start orienting yourself toward the job and thinking about how to solve those problems. That way, when you do get hired, you can hit the ground running on day one.
You want to get that job offer, of course, says Church. "But the next piece is how do we get quick wins" that will make your new team's life better right away.
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