How would you describe the culture and values of the company?
If you hear, "Well, we work hard and party hard," and you are the kind of person who doesn't, you may not "fit in." If you hear, "We are here for the money, and that is all we care about," and you have a great passion for growing as a person and not worrying that much about the money, you might want to delve deeper to see if you can live with this approach.
If you are young and single and expect a social life with the people you work with and you hear, "We are very family oriented here. Most of us are grandparents. We work hard, but don't socialize with each other outside of work," this job may not be a source of social relationships. But, as I discussed in a previous chapter, companies are much more multigenerational than they used to be. You just need to know.
Culture can be a difficult issue. I once placed a fellow who was Jewish. I didn't know that at the time, but he called me seven months after he was on the job. I had placed him with a company that described its "culture" as Christian. It was a good company and a good job for him, so I placed him there. The problem was that people there turned out to be evangelicals and kept trying to convert both him and his wife to Christianity. He got so fed up and uncomfortable with the constant barrage of Bible verses and witnessing that he wanted to leave, and he did. So, company culture can make a big difference.
How would you describe my potential peers?
It is good to get an idea of what the boss thinks of all of the people you will be working with. Listen to the metaphors and analogies. I once asked a hiring authority how many people he had working for him and he replied, " 'bout half of 'me." If your potential boss describes your potential peers as "slugs," "lazy," "less than competent," or "brilliant," "wonderful," "great," he or she will probably say the same thing about you someday soon if you take the job.
If I were to accept this offer, what can I do when I start to be most effective and contribute to alleviating your biggest problem?
Potential employers love to hear this kind of question. It states that you really are concerned about what you can do for them. Therefore, when you are considering an offer, i.e., what the company might be able to do for you, you're saying that you are concerned about what you can do for the company. In other words, keep selling!
What is the percentage of turnover in the company?
Do not be surprised if your hiring authority does not really know. The only time your hiring authority is really going to know this is if the turnover in the company is very high. If you find out that the turnover is very high by asking this question, the hiring authority will automatically explain to you why. The reason may make a big difference as to whether you take the job. You would be shocked at the number of times candidates never even think to ask this question.
What is the turnover in this department?
Again, you certainly want to find this out. If there is a great deal of turnover, the hiring authority will automatically give you the reasons why. I've known hiring authorities to actually say something like, "Well, some people think I'm very difficult to work for."
The answer to this question may or may not make a difference in your taking the job. However, you at least need to know what you're getting into.
How often is the turnover in the job I'm discussing with you?
You may already know this from the interviewing process, but you might want to confirm it. If it seems higher than normal, it is fair to ask "Why?" If the answer is, "We promote out of this position often," it is one thing. If it is, "We can't find anyone to do the job right," you may want to ask more questions.