When people in career transition are preparing for an interview, they tend to spend a lot of time practicing their answers to the questions that they think they’ll be asked. This is wise. You can almost guarantee you’ll be asked some form of the questions “Why are you interested in this position?” or “Tell us about a time when you ____” or “How have you made a difference in your previous organizations?”

But here’s the problem: In all their interview preparations, interviewees often fail to consider what questions they will ask of the people who are interviewing them. Some may have a few finance questions prepared for the CFO, or patient care questions for the CNO or physician executives. But these are not the kind of questions that will help you to discover if this position and workplace are a good fit for you.

There are certain questions you should ask of every single person you meet, regardless of their position or job responsibilities. The fact is, that a lot of position- or organization-fit issues could be avoided by asking the right questions while you’re still in the interview phase. You could be interviewing for a job that someone doesn’t want filled. Or perhaps the job doesn’t have clear objectives, or the person you report to is particularly challenging to work for. You are more likely to unearth potential issues if you ask questions that help you notice those red flags.

Here are some questions you should ask in every interview:

  1. What is it like to work here? Some may answer with info about projects they’re working on or the direction of their organizational strategy, but inevitably this will lead to clues about the culture of the organization.
  1. What is the management style of the person I’d be reporting to? You should ask this question in your interview with the person to whom you would report, but you should also ask every other person you speak with to see if there’s consistency there. I’ve seen situations where the interviewee’s potential manager told him he was a servant leader, but others in the organization painted him as a bit of a dictator. We can’t always see ourselves clearly, and this question will help give you a picture of what that working relationship would look like.
  1. What are the three essential things I would need to accomplish in the first year? See if what the person you’re reporting to is saying is the same as everybody else. Consistency in the expectations on your position will be important for your success.
  1. What do you think of the team that would be reporting to me?
  1. How do the departments I would be supervising interact with the rest of the organization? In questions #4 and #5, you’re looking for good communication inside those teams and whether they have healthy, productive interactions with other departments.
  1. Tell me about the physician groups I’d be working with. This will help you detect is there are any physicians within those groups that are especially difficult to work with or have a philosophy that doesn’t align with yours.
  1. What questions should I have asked that I didn’t ask? By asking this question, you are inviting others to share their concerns or their expectations of the position you’re interviewing for.



Author: Larry TylerAs the founder and CEO of Tyler & Company, a leading healthcare executive search firm, he specialized in CEO searches. During his tenure he conducted approximately 185. One half of those searches involved non-profit boards, the other half were advisory boards. After the sale of Tyler & Company to Jackson Healthcare in 2013, Larry stayed on during a three-year transition, developing the Practical Governance Group which gives education and training to healthcare boards. But his passion for helping senior executives find the right role remains strong.