Congratulations, you’ve landed an interview. You’ve read the company’s latest press release and you are prepared for any question they throw your way: Workplace conflict? You’re an expert. Professional strengths and weaknesses? You’ve got an alphabetized list at the ready. Where do you see yourself in five years? Moving up their corporate ladder, of course. If you could be a superhero, who would you be and why? Batman, obviously- great suit, awesome car.

No matter how prepared you are, however, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that you are on the defensive during an interview, having to be ready to fire back the perfect answers to any of a thousand questions they may ask. Ultimately, leaving the power in their hands.

It’s time to put some of the interview power back in your hands.

A good company creates a successful interview process that includes well-thought-out questions that allow you the opportunity to demonstrate who you are as a professional, rather than produce canned answers you found on Google. But let’s not forget, that while they are interviewing you, you are also interviewing them. At the end of the interview, you want to feel confident that this a role where you can feel successful and that they have demonstrated they are a company you would like to work for. Their answers to a few of your questions will immediately tell you if they are the right fit for you or if you should walk out the door.

3 “Must Ask” Questions That Will Tell You if the Job Sucks

1. What do you like about working for this company? It’s not difficult to boast about the things you love, whether it’s your grandchildren or your favorite restaurant. The same should be true about the company you work for. If the interviewer hesitates or struggles to find a handful of things that make the company special, he is sending a very clear message. In addition, pay close attention to word choice. Telling a candidate that you “like the corporate gym” is very different than explaining that “the gym is one of many ways in which the company strives to take care of its staff and listens to employee’s requests.”

2. What job qualifications do you think I am missing? This might sound like an odd question. Instinct tells you to avoid shining a light on any of the ways you are not qualified for the job. However, we encourage you to be bold as this question serves two purposes. First, looks (i.e. job descriptions) can be deceiving. It is not unheard of that as an interview progresses, you come to realize that the role differs from the one you applied for. Asking them to identify the qualifications you are missing will help you make that determination. Secondly, you will have a sense of how the interview is going. Quickly you will realize one of two things: You do not have the qualifications they are looking for, or you are not clearly communicating or demonstrating that you have those qualifications. If the former is the case, you’ll be glad to know this role is not for you. If the latter is true, you can shift your game, allowing you to redirect their understanding of your experience and highlight examples of those qualifications.

3. What are the top 3 things you’d like me to accomplish in this role? When asked, candidates have told us repeatedly that one of the things they want to know before considering an offer is what are they expected to accomplish and how will those goals be measured. No one wants to find out in the first few weeks that they’ve been hired to save a sinking ship. (Unless of course, you’re a turnaround artist and that was clearly outlined as the reason you were hired.) Additionally, it is very frustrating to realize the goals you have been working toward are not the ones the company considers valuable, yet failed to communicate to you. Attaining even a general picture of the goals and strategies you are expected to implement allows you to determine if this is a company with reasonable expectations and whether or not you are the right person to meet those expectations. It also allows you the opportunity for follow-up questions to gauge what infrastructure and measurables they already have in place to help you reach those goals.

The burden of responsibility for a successful interview lies equally on the shoulders of the interviewer and the interviewee.  Translation: Candidates hold much more power than they realize. Acting as an offensive player instead of solely a defensive one provides hints as to the direction the interview is going and presents the opportunity for you to learn just as much about the company as the company is trying to learn about you.

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