The job interview is nearly over. You’ve nailed the questions about your weaknesses, strengths and where you want to be in five years. Then comes one final, loaded query: “So, do you have any questions for me?”
Proceed with caution: Ask too broad a question and it might indicate you didn’t do your homework before the interview. Too precise a question about salary or work conditions might seem presumptuous. Declining to ask any question could suggests a lack of curiosity. In the stressful atmosphere of the interview, all options seem perilous.
Adam Grant, a professor of management and psychology at Wharton—and co-author of "Option B" with Sheryl Sandberg— has come to your rescue. In Granted, his monthly blog, he suggests three questions that can reveal important information about the company while also making you seem smart and thoughtful.
What’s something that happens at this organization but wouldn’t elsewhere?
Grant says he loves this question because it reveals what a company thinks about itself. All companies like to think they’re unique, but most are pretty similar to one another. The stories they tell about themselves can help pinpoint its priorities. For example, if your interviewer tells you the CEO flies coach, they’re signaling it’s a frugal workplace. If they tell you they offer all parents free child care, they’re stressing their generosity and exclusivity.
If you could change one thing about this organization, what would it be—and how would you do it?
This question can be telling about how open the company is to new ideas, and to dissent. If they don’t have a real answer, or seem vague about the mechanics about raising concerns or agitating for change, it could be a sign that employees don’t have a voice.
Can you draw a picture of the organization?
A picture can illustrate what an interviewer may struggle to explain with words. When Apple executives were asked to draw the state of their company in 1995, one drew founder Steve Jobs and CEO John Sculley both trying to steer the same boat, according to Grant. He cautions it may be a question best posed once you’ve received a job offer, “because the interviewer might think you’re weird. Then again, maybe you want to find out if the company can tolerate a little weird.”