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Interviews are a two-way street

You’ve prepared for the questions the employer is going to ask you. Now, you need to prepare questions to ask your potential employer about the position, your boss, and the company in order to be sure that this is the right job and right company for you. Think back to when you chose the particular branch you served in. Why did you choose the Navy? Why did you choose the Army?

You must consider why you would want to work for this new employer just as you chose which branch to serve. In addition, if you don’t prepare smart questions, you run the risk of the interviewer assuming you aren’t interested or haven’t prepared.

Your opportunity to ask questions usually comes at the end of the interview. You must prepare at least four questions that demonstrate your interest in the position, your drive to excel in the role, and the fact that you’ve done some homework (researched company, industry, department).

  1. Avoid yes or no questions and avoid questions that are so broad that they are difficult to answer. You don’t want to put the interviewer in an awkward position when you’re trying to make a good impression and develop rapport.
  2. What is the average tenure with the company? To break it down a little further, ask: what is the average tenure within the department you will be joining? If tenure is low, it could be a sign of high turnover which could indicate a sign of low pay, lack of opportunity for career advancement, or incompetent management.
  3. Describe the culture of the company. Are you a good fit for this particular organization? Make sure you are comfortable with the culture and the dynamic of the company.
  4. Does the company give back to the community? In what ways? If it is important to you that the company has an established corporate responsibility or gives back, then understanding their level of involvement offers important insight.
  5. Where do you think the company is headed in the next 5 years? If you plan to be in this role for several years, make sure the company is headed in a growth mode so you have opportunity to grow with the company.
  6. What do you like best about working for this company? Ask about the interviewer’s personal experience for additional insight into the company’s culture.
  7. What is the management style within the company? Within the department? Civilian corporations each have different management styles. After serving in a structured environment such as the military, understanding what style your potential employer works under is vitally important. If management is too “loosey goosey”, it will likely drive you crazy; if it’s too rigid, it may remind you of the military when you are no longer interested in that structure.
  8. Who do you consider your top competitor, and why? Having done your homework/research on the company, you should already have an idea who the company’s major competitors are, but hearing it from someone within the company gives you good insight to how they are handling the competition.
  9. How is success measured and over what time frame? You need to know if expectations are realistic with respect to what you will need to accomplish and by when. It doesn’t matter how many zeroes the paycheck comes with – if you do not or cannot deliver results, you will not be successful.
  10. Is this a replacement or addition to staff? If it’s a replacement, why is it open? An addition to staff indicates the company is growing and in a good place financially. If it’s a replacement, the answer to why can be very insightful.
  11. How many veterans currently work here? Is there a veteran resource group? If this is important to you, it should be asked. This will be an indication of the company’s programs and military readiness.