Five Questions to Ask in an Interview That Will Reveal a Lot About the Company

You’ve heard it a zillion times: “Remember, you’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you. Ask your own (good) questions to get a feel for if you truly want to work there.”

This post originally appeared on The Muse.

But are you digesting this—and doing it—every time you meet with a hiring manager? If you’re not, you’re missing out on an important opportunity to dig in and really get a feel for what’s going on at your potential next employer. You’re also squandering an opportunity to demonstrate fully your preparedness, confidence, and complete non-desperation (which is always an attractive trait to hiring managers).

So, what are some great questions you can ask in your next interview? Here are five brilliant ones that, truthfully, may not be fully answered but will still likely provide you with some solid, fruitful information about your potential next boss, team, and organization.

I worked with a client a few months ago who was a finalist for a VP of Sales & Marketing job at a profitable, admired company. He was, he believed, very close to having an offer in hand. And then he learned that, in the space of three years, this company had three other leaders in this same role. As in, they were looking to hire their fourth VP of Sales & Marketing since 2013.

This presented quite a conundrum for my client. He’d been so excited about the opportunity, and flattered to be this far along in the interview process. But discovering the revolving door of leadership going on stopped him in his tracks. And it should have. That kind of turnover is a sure sign that something’s up, probably starting at the top of the organization.

This client didn’t ask during the early interview stages why the position was open. But he should have. It’s a completely fair question and, even if it’s not answered in depth, you can almost always tell by the “squirm factor” of the interviewer if there’s more to the story or not.

He did get the offer, by the way. And ultimately declined. Today, he heads up sales for a smaller firm with amazing, supportive, and inclusive leaders. And the organization’s turnover? It’s almost non-existent.

Speaking of turnover. It’s fair for you to ask about this. If you ask it in a confident and non-accusatory manner, it’s also going to demonstrate that you are one who makes decisions strategically, and with care. And any good employer will respect that about you.

If, when you ask, you learn that turnover is uncomfortably or unusually high, you should then ask (again, in a way that doesn’t make the interviewer feel like you’re attacking), “To what do you attribute this number?” and “Does the organization have any plans or strategies in place to help alleviate this?”

High turnover, even in industries that commonly have a decent amount of churn, could point to issues with management, a super stressful work environment, a lack of employee recognition, crappy raises, or all of the above.

This isn’t a weird question, and you can ask it in a way that comes across as you trying to get a feel for how friendly and connected your team is (or isn’t), or how relaxed the environment is (or isn’t). But, assuming the interviewer is up front with his or her answer, here’s what else you’ll be able to ascertain: Are these people overworked to the point that they can’t keep up without working through lunch hours? (And, will your future manager expect you to follow suit?)

Teams whose members never take breaks are typically tired, unhappy teams. Sleuth this one out, especially if you’re not one who enjoys being chained to your desk for several hours straight every day.

Oh, if I had a dollar for every client I’ve worked with who lost his or her job abruptly (sometimes, very soon after accepting the offer) as a result of crumbling profits, loss of a big client or a sudden bankruptcy—that the new hire had no idea about before coming on board.

Guys, it’s absolutely okay (and important) to ask for a proverbial peek into the books as you progress through the interview process—even if the company is privately held (or a mom-and-pop shop). In fact, it’s especially important to ask if the company’s financial information isn’t readily available via a Google search.

The last thing you want is to unwittingly be the “Hail Mary hire,” whose presence is the make-it-or-break-it, last ditch effort to dig out of a perilous situation. Certainly, you may decide that it’s a challenge (and risk) worth taking on. But maybe not.

No matter what, getting a feel for the financial health of a company is so important to have, before you dive in.

This is such a scary question for most people, because they’re fearful that the answer might be yes. But it’s an important question to ask because, if there are any hesitations on the part of the interviewer, you pretty much have no better shot at clarifying or allaying their concerns than while you’re still sitting in the interview.

If you’re terrified about asking this question, consider this: If something about you is giving the interviewer pause, and you don’t ask about it, he or she is going to make hiring decisions with this or these concerns factored in. Given this, you almost always have much more to gain than lose by asking.

As you progress through a job search or career transition, you’ve got to continually remind yourself to steer. Steer the boat. Steer the direction. Steer the interview. No one cares more about your finding a great new job (or wonderful organization to represent) than you.

Curate your career. Ask the interview questions that need to be asked. Be your own best advocate. And then enjoy the spoils as you settle into that great new job.

5 Questions to Ask in an Interview That’ll Reveal a Lot About the Company | The Muse

Jenny Foss is a career strategist, recruiter, and the voice of the popular career blog Based in Portland, OR, Jenny is the author of the Ridiculously Awesome Resume Kit and the Ridiculously Awesome Career Pivot Kit. Also check out the recently-launched Weekend Resume Makeover Course, find Jenny on Twitter @JobJenny, and book one-on-one coaching sessions with her on The Muse’s Coach Connect.

Image by Breather via Unsplash.


Be Direct with Friends About Your Budget, Don’t Make Up Excuses to Not Go Out

If you’re trying to pay down credit cards, or pay off your student loans, it can be embarrassing to say you’re on a budget when your friends want to hang out. Instead of making up excuses or trying to lie your way out of it,own up to the truth.

Like with anything else, the first step towards tackling your debt problem is to be clear about it—to yourself, and to people who want your company. As The Simple Dollar puts it:

If I can’t afford to do something, I tell the person why, even if it makes me uncomfortable. I think that owning up to the debt is a better long-term plan than pretending it doesn’t exist, as many of us tend to do in this country. You only have to look at this recent article in the Atlantic that details a middle-class man’s “secret shame” about living paycheck to paycheck to see how common it is to feel bad about your financial standing. Our culture is one in which you’re looked down upon if you aren’t “living the dream.”

You don’t need to go into the gory details of your financial structure. A simple line can do wonders. Just tell your friends, “Sorry, I have a budget to watch.” Once they know your budget, chances are, they’ll be fine going somewhere within your price range, or hanging out with you at home.

The bottom line is, debts aren’t something to be ashamed about. Don’t pretend they don’t exist. Acknowledge them and find solutions.

Four Strategies to Stay Sane While Battling a Student Loan | The Simple Dollar

Everything You Need to Know About Netflix Downloads

Netflix announced today that subscribers will be able to download select movies and TV shows for offline playback. The feature had been requested by users for a long time, and it’s reportedly been in the works since June. Now, anyone with a Netflix subscription can download movies and TV shows to watch when they’re not connected to the internet.

In the past, the predominant belief was that Netflix offline viewing would be targeted at countries without reliable internet access. However, since that’s not the case anymore, the announcement is already being championed by binge-watchers and frequent travelers. It’s also raised some questions among the tech community. With that in mind, here is everything you need to know about downloading videos from Netflix, and how you can plan to take advantage of this sweet new feature.

More about the new Landsat / Sentinel 2 data in Google Earth

Yesterday Google surprised us by adding global mosaics created from Landsat and Sentinel 2 data to the Google Earth’s ‘historical imagery’. The data comes to Google Earth via Google Earth Engine, which has long had this time-lapse feature that has just been updated to include imagery up to 2016. The timelapse page also tells us more about the imagery:

Using Earth Engine, we combined over 5 million satellite images acquired over the past three decades by 5 different satellites. The majority of the images come from Landsat, a joint USGS/NASA Earth observation program that has observed the Earth since the 1970s. For 2015 and 2016, we combined Landsat 8 imagery with imagery from Sentinel-2A, part of the European Commission and European Space Agency’s Copernicus Earth observation program.”

Google Earth Engine has also published this post about the update.

On Friday we will release a KML file that will allow you to view similar time-lapses from directly within Google Earth.

Today we are making a few observations about the imagery.

The first observation comes from GEB reader ‘haflaa’ who points out that although the mosaics are global for every year between 1985 and 2016, there are some locations, such as the Maldives, where the imagery is identical for a number of years. In the case of the Maldives, the imagery is identical from 1985 to 1999.

We also note that the Google Earth Engine animation starts in 1984, whereas the Google Earth data starts with December 1985 (which we presume represents the data for the whole of 1985).

The path of the satellite is often noticeable in the imagery. For more on the orbit of the Landsat satellites see this post and this post.

In many locations you will notice narrow stripes in the imagery. This is because of a faulty part on the Landsat 7 satellite. Learn more about it in this post.

The mosaics are created by trying to select imagery from throughout a given year then selecting cloud and snow free pixels where possible. However, there are a few locations on earth that are almost always cloudy, a problem we discussed in this post.

This location in Cameroon features both Landsat 7 stripes and clouds that just could not be eliminated.

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

Everything You Need to Know About Bed Bugs, In One Video

They’re tiny, resilient, and they want to suck your blood. Bed bugs are a serious issue that isn’t going away any time soon. Here’s what you need to know about the microscopic monsters.

As this video from the SciShow YouTube channel explains, bed bugs are one of the fastest growing pest problems in the developed world—and it’s getting worse. If you’re unfamiliar with bed bugs, or Cimex lectularius, they’re tiny, blood-feeding insects that have acquired a taste for us humans over thousands of years. In the video, you’ll learn that bed bugs can live just about anywhere in your home, stuffing bedding and mattresses in plastic bags to starve out bed bugs doesn’t work, and the most efficient way to kill a bunch of bed bugs is heat. Adults and eggs will die within 10 minutes if exposed to temperatures of 115 degrees Fahrenheit (but don’t go lighting your bed on fire.) Fortunately, bed bugs don’t seem to pass on disease like most other blood-feeding insects, so you can take some solace in that.

There are some things you can do to fight off bed bugs, like freezing blankets and linens for several weeks, or calling an exterminator. But the best thing you can do is try to prevent them. Seal up cracks and crevices around your home so they don’t have anywhere to hide, check hotel rooms for them so you don’t any home, and set out traps.

Dueling smart assistants give zero fucks about your calendar

If you’ve ever wondered about the infinite loop one could create by pairing two smart home assistants, it’s this.

YouTuber Adam Jakowenko used both an Amazon Echo Dot, and a Google Home device to answer a simple question: “what’s on my calendar for tonight?” Using the Echo first, the device dutifully read off the beginning of a calendar notification before passing the buck on to Google Home. From there, Google started, and then passed the buck right back.

Someone is getting trolled here, but I can’t decide who it is. Regardless, it’s funny and leaves me with just one thought: “why the hell didn’t I think of this?”

h/t John Siracusa

Echo/Google Home infinite loop on YouTube

TNW’s West Coast reporter covering all the comings and goings in the SoCal tech scene and elsewhere. Connect via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Shh. Here’s some distraction

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