Finding your best fit – how to vet your interviewer

As you near the end of an interview, you’ll likely be asked, “Do you have anything you’d like to ask me?” You might have trouble choosing the best questions to ask in the moment, or maybe you’re overwhelmed with information and none immediately come to mind. When preparing for an interview, it’s just as important to practice the questions you’ll ask your interviewer as it is to master the way you answer the questions asked of you.

We asked a few members of our in-house recruitment team what their top tips are for vetting potential employers and why it’s just as important for you as it is for them. Here’s what Erum Chaudhry (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Recruitment Manager), Carrie Li (APAC Recruitment Manager), and Ciaran Wootten (EMEA Senior Campus Recruiter) suggest for questions to ask an interviewer, how to approach asking certain questions, and what to look for in an employer.

Can you share your thoughts on the importance of vetting future employers?

Erum: People often view interviews as a one-sided conversation where candidates are assessed for a job, but it’s crucial to understand that it’s also a chance for you to get to know if the company and role are a good fit for you. It’s best practice to ask questions towards the end of interviews but I also recommend asking questions throughout the interview as you see fit to ensure you walk away feeling confident and informed about the role, company, and people you’d work with.

Ciaran: It’s very easy to fixate just on making a good impression when interviewing. Instead, take the time to understand your potential employer’s culture, values, and career path they offer.

What questions should candidates be asking throughout their interview process?

Erum: It’s impressive when you come prepared with unique and thoughtful questions, stretching beyond information found in interview prep materials. Some topics to focus on include:

  • The interviewer’s experience at the company
  • Career growth opportunities
  • Inclusivity and overall company culture
  • The company’s growth plan
  • Qualities that can make you a successful employee

Ciaran: Seek out reviews of the company itself ahead of your interview. If you can, reach out to current and former employees for a balanced, constructive perspective on the company culture you’re about to enter into. Topics you can base your questions around are:

  • How does the team typically work together? What processes are in place?
  • How much of the role is individual contributor vs. collaborative?
  • Through what channels do we hear from senior leaders? How often?
  • Where are senior leaders based? Are they in my office? Do they come to my office?
  • What other functions does the team typically collaborate with? How often?

Are there questions candidates should steer away from asking?

Carrie: I suggest avoiding questions that you can find an answer to on the company’s website. For example: When was the company established, how many offices does your firm have, who are your clients, what would the job entail, etc. If you ask such questions, it’s a red flag that you did not conduct diligent research before the interview.

Additionally, when asking questions that focus on the company and the role that you’re applying to, I recommend not asking questions about salary and annual leave, as these are usually discussed in the offer call or final round interview.

Can you share advice around asking questions about topics such as diversity, compensation, work hours, etc?

Erum: All of these topics are fair game and important for you to get insight on. As long as you’re professional and appropriate, interviewers should be open to answering your questions. A good way to phrase a question around work hours, for example, could be “Can you share insight on what a typical schedule looks like for XYZ position?”. At the same time, be mindful and respectful if interviewers can’t offer insight on specific topics due to varying company policies.

What should candidates be looking for from an employer throughout their interview process?

Ciaran: It’s important to have a firm understanding of the company’s culture, values, and the role itself to ensure the best fit. For instance, if you ask about professional development opportunities that an employer can offer, it demonstrates that you’re looking for ways to improve, refine, and grow your skills and knowledge. Similarly, it’s useful to ask where ex-employees have gone on to work and the kinds of positions they’ve moved on to. These questions can help you assess whether others like you leveraged the role you’re applying for into future career moves that align with your own goals.

Erum: Be sure to understand the firm’s values and see if they align with your own to find the best match for you and enter an environment that will make you happy. I’ve found that when values align, you can truly build a successful long-term career while continuing to have work/life harmony.

When I was applying to roles, it was important to learn if my employer valued its people, their career development, and fostered an inclusive environment for people to be their authentic selves at work. Since these topics were aligned with my values, I made sure to do my research and ask questions related to these topics during my own interview process. For example, “What has AlphaSights done to invest in my professional development?” and “What tools does AlphaSights have in place to help me achieve a work/life harmony?” Questions like these helped me make a quick decision to accept my offer [at AlphaSights]!

What have you seen from a candidate in an interview that really stood out?

Erum: An interview that comes to mind right away is a candidate who I met at the beginning of my AlphaSights career who ultimately ended up receiving an offer and joining the team. The candidate brought so much energy to the conversation, despite the early Monday morning interview, which was very refreshing. I could sense their excitement for the role and company based on the questions they asked, such as “What can I focus on during my time on campus to help succeed in the role I’m interviewing for?”

The candidate had not only done research on the company and role, but on myself as well, which I noticed when they asked thoughtful questions specifically related to my background. They ended the interview by asking a non-work related question about my favorite restaurant in NYC, which I thought added a nice, personal touch!

Carrie: I’m always impressed with candidates who are confident and have diverse experiences. These two points often go hand-in-hand; some candidates with nonlinear experiences feel they have to defend their career decisions, and this might negatively impact their confidence. On the contrary, I think having a unique background shows that the person overcame different circumstances and built character that he/she possesses today.

Ciaran: Candidates that go that extra mile. Whether that’s their preparation, proactively reaching out to employees to further understand the role, or doing some research on the interviewer which demonstrates interest and engagement from the candidate.

Here are some questions that the Recruitment Team recommend asking your interviewer(s) and why:

  1. What are qualities that have helped people succeed in this role?
    Shows the interviewer that you’re eager and interested, helps you understand if you have the right skillset to offer, and provides insight on performance expectations.
  2. What are some of the challenges you expect a person in this role to face?
    Signals that you are proactive in understanding what obstacles can come up and how you can potentially mitigate them in advance.
  3. What does the career path for someone in this role look like?
    Highlights your interest in growing and staying at the firm long-term. Additionally, this question can provide you with a sense of professional trajectory and what the company does to guide you as you grow.
  4. How would you describe the people and culture at the company and your team?
    Provides you insight into whether or not you see yourself fitting into the firm’s culture.
  5. What is your favorite part about working here?
    Get some interesting insight into the company, how it treats its employees, and what motivates the people who work there.

Asking questions at the end of an interview is crucial for discovering more about the company and whether you’d be a good fit. If you’re interviewing with AlphaSights, we encourage you to come with questions that help you determine whether we are the right next step in your career.

To explore opportunities at AlphaSights, visit our careers page. Carrie, Ciarán, Erum, and the rest of our recruitment team look forward to meeting you!

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