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A Reverse Interview Framework to Get Hired in 2024

Learn all about reverse interviews, from their benefits and how to make them work for you to 15 of the best questions to include in your own reverse interview.

You just finished up an interview for a position you’re really keen on, and the interviewer hits you with:

“We’ll call you next week for a reverse interview.”

A WHAT?

Short of running through those same interview questions in reverse order, you’re a little lost as to what a reverse interview is.

(It’s an opportunity for you to interview them, by the way).

While the reverse interview is not exactly a stock standard practice, it is gaining popularity, especially in tech circles where top talent is in demand, and applicants somewhat have the upper hand.

In this article, you’ll learn all about reverse interviews. We’ll discuss why they are valuable for you as the job applicant, how to make them work for you, and 15 of the best questions to include in your own reverse interview.

What is a reverse interview? 

The reverse interview is actually pretty aptly named.

Instead of your hiring manager interviewing you, you get to put your hiring manager in the hot seat and ask them all the questions you want answers to about working at the company you’re applying for.

Reverse interviews are more common in the tech sector and emerged from the recognition that the hiring process isn’t just about the recruiter picking the applicant they like; the applicant also chooses the company.

So, it's not just another annoying step in a corporate interview process (though it can be). It's a powerful tool to help your decision-making process.

Let me explain.

Reverse interviews: What’s in it for you? 

Here’s the thing:

When you’re reading a job description, you’re essentially reading the HR version of marketing material. That is, it's sort of a hyped-up, good-news-only version of what it is like to work at a company.

It's like the company’s answer to your resume: true, but kind of superficial.

What really matters is what goes on behind the scenes.

Reverse interview process perception vs reality

A reverse interview gives you the chance to dig into that. This is especially important if you’re fortunate enough to be in a position where you have multiple job offers on the table, and you have to make a decision.

More than that, your reverse interview questions allow you to show your stuff.

That’s because the questions you ask also shape the perception of you as a potential employee. 

Digging deep, asking questions about things that truly matter, and avoiding surface-level questions like “How would you describe your management style?” can demonstrate to hiring managers that you’re a strategic and analytical thinker.

So does asking for a reverse interview in the first place, by the way…

How to request a reverse interview

Reverse job interviews exist, but they aren’t exactly common.

In some cases, you might have to be the one that initiates the interview.

This bold move shows initiative and courage and can be an important signal to CEOs and executives who respect and admire this kind of boldness.

Here’s how to do it:

First, explain to your hiring manager that it's really important to you that you find a workplace that aligns with your goals, values, and needs as an employee. This will help them understand that you aren’t just looking for a paycheck.

Second, paint yourself as “in-demand” by subtly referring to other job opportunities and the fact that you have to make a decision between them.

Finally, demonstrate that you understand that it's additional time they need to make space for and explain how it's beneficial to them.

Here’s an example of what that might sound like:

“Do you think there’d be space in the hiring process for us to have a reverse interview? I’m interviewing for a couple of different roles, and I really want to make sure that when I make a decision, I’ll be heading to a company that aligns with my goals and values, which I’m sure is something you want as well. I know you’re looking to hire fast, so I’ll be open to making that fit within your schedule.”

How to make reverse interviews work for you 

You’ve got a reverse interview coming up. How can you use it to guide your decision-making process and present yourself as an ideal candidate?

Here are a few helpful tips:

1. Get super clear on your goals and expectations from a workplace 

Use these to set your questions and qualification criteria (don’t accept the gig if they aren’t up to your standards).

2. Choose questions that make them think

This is an opportunity to prove yourself. 

Simple questions like “What are your company values?” appear as if you’ve just scribbled a list of questions ChatGPT told you to ask. 

ChatGPT reverse interview questions

Go deeper, When was the last time that company’s values were used to make a tough call?”

3. Show that you've done your research

Dig into the company and/or product history and pull out questions related to that. 

For example, “I saw that in 2021, you did X. What was the decision-making process behind that move?” 

This shows that you’re not just bulk applying to a ton of jobs and demonstrates a level of commitment.

15 questions to ask in your reverse interview 

Okay, let's get to the good stuff:

15 real-world reverse interview questions that meet the criteria we just discussed and help paint you as a serious contender for the job while also helping you qualify/disqualify potential workplaces.

Tall order, we know. 

Scope of the role 

1. What defines success in this role?

This question achieves two goals simultaneously. It helps you understand:

  1. If the hiring manager has a clear definition of success for you
  2. If your own goals and abilities align with that definition of success

If they can't answer this question effectively, it's likely that you’ll never “succeed” in that role since the goalposts will constantly be moving.

2. What decisions would someone in this role be expected to make autonomously? What would require consultation with you?

This question helps you understand what level of strategic thinking they expect you to engage with and when they would expect you to make your own informed decision vs. when you need to defer upwards.

You can use the question to gauge alignment. 

Some people like a role where they can be entirely autonomous and not have to ask for approval. Others prefer a low-pressure situation in which they refer trickier questions to a more senior team member.

3. How do you expect this role to develop or change in the next 18 months?

Here, you’re not only signalling your interest in the role long-term, but you’re assessing how the growth of the role might fit your career aspirations.

You’re also trying to establish how volatile the role scope is.

For example, if you’re applying for jobs at early-stage companies, it’s reasonable to expand the scope and expectations of the role to shift over a period of a year and a half.

History of the role 

4. Who else has been in this role before? If they did well, what made them succeed? If not, how did they fall short?

This is one of the best reverse interview questions for helping you figure out how you can win.

The answer will help you determine:

  • If they even know why people did or didn’t do well before (red flag if not)
  • If you share skills that align with those who have succeeded
  • If you have unique skills that others who fell short before you didn’t have

5. Historically, what has been the biggest challenge in this role?

Again, you’re gauging how much the hiring manager understands what success in this role means.

This is also a qualification question. If the biggest challenge in the role is one you’ve never faced and aren’t sure you’re equipped to handle, you might decide the job isn’t a fit.

6. How have others who have previously held this role progressed within the company?

This one’s about career progression.

It helps you learn about the different pathways available while also subtly saying to your recruiter, “Hey, I want to grow and develop in this role.”

7. What skills or capabilities did they demonstrate that showed they were ready to move up?

This question is a follow-on from the previous one. 

Use it to gauge where you’re at in terms of development and what you might need to work on during your time in the role to show that you’re ready to move up the ladder.

Team structure 

8. How is the team structured? Who else works in it? And how does that relate to the broader company structure?

This is one of the more practical reverse interview questions.

You obviously want to know who you’ll be working with aside from your manager, but you should also be curious about their role goals and how the team’s objectives relate to company success.

For example, if you’re applying for a job on a product team, it may be helpful to know their take on the product marketing manager's role.

9. What structural changes have taken place in the past year, and why?

Teams often undergo restructures. They could be minor changes in reporting lines or larger developments to help align sales and marketing under a single GTM banner.

Understanding what structural changes have happened previously helps you gauge how the company thinks about how teams collaborate, as well as about how they’ve solved problems in the past.

Company values 

10. When was the last time that one of the company’s values was used to make a tough call?

Lots of companies have a set of corporate values. Most of them are too broad to be practical (whose “ethics” exactly?)

Company values example

Few actually use them in practice or stand behind them in a practical way.

This question is great for understanding how a company’s values are actually applied in the real world or whether leadership just pays lip service to a set of inspiring words painted on the wall in the break room.

11. What’s your definition of company or team culture? 

Company culture is another popular corporate buzzword that gets thrown around a lot. Healthy workplace culture is important, but it’s not always clear what this means beyond “Working with people I’d like to have a beer with.”

Asking this question can be a starting point to drill down into further questions like:

  • How would you define the culture of the current team?
  • What do you do to cultivate, improve, or maintain the current culture? 

Their perception of you 

12. What would you say is the biggest risk in considering me for this role? And the biggest benefit?

This one is great for getting an idea of what they think of you and for gauging how likely you are to get the job.

It can also be an opportunity for you to objection-solve.

13. If I were to be put into this role, what is the biggest thing you’d want me to learn, master, or improve at in order to be successful?

This one speaks to what they perceive your limitations to be and gives you an idea of how they see you potentially progressing in the role.

Also, if you were to land the gig, you’d already know where to start in terms of personal development and could potentially get underway before day one with some free training courses.

Innovation and vision 

14. What does the company’s competitive vision look like for the next three years?

This question helps you understand the company’s direction, how it relates to market developments, and what its competitive monitoring practices look like.

It helps you establish whether you think the business has a viable future (and, thus, you have a long-term future within it).

15. How would my role contribute to that vision?

Finally, you’ll want to know the work you’re doing every day helps push the company toward that goal.

More than that, you also want to know how well your potential manager understands how closely your daily work relates to broad organizational goals.

Sample answers to the question: What are you looking for in your next role?

Okay, bonus round.

We’ve covered reverse interviews, but one of the most common interview questions you’ll get asked is this:

What are you looking for in your next role?

Obviously, your answer depends entirely on what you want out of your next job.

So, we won’t give you word tracks you can regurgitate. Rather, we’re going to share some important factors to consider as you form your answer:

  • Company culture and values
  • Work-life balance
  • Level of autonomy and leadership
  • Growth opportunities
  • Level of challenge and difficulty
  • Development and training opportunities
  • Location and travel

So, there are your 15 reverse interview questions. You don’t have to use them all in your next reverse interview. Pick those that seem most relevant and important to you.

Nail your next reverse interview 

Reverse interviews are an interesting way to flip the script of the traditional interview process and give applicants a bit more power in the hiring process.

They help you, as the job hunter, qualify or disqualify potential workplaces and give you an opportunity to demonstrate yourself as a critical thinker.

Head here next: Product Marketing Interview Questions and Answers for 2024.

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