12 Questions to Ask Employers During Virtual Interviews

virtual interviews

Employment is a two-way street. Jobseekers need to interview employers just as much as employers need to interview jobseekers. Are you puzzled by which questions to ask during virtual interviews with potential employers? We have a list of 12 to get you started.

12 Questions to Ask Employers During Virtual Interviews

As a jobseeker, you get a lot of advice on how to prepare for and answer virtual interview questions, but have you ever considered which questions you need to ask employers?

Here are 12 examples of questions you may want to ask potential employers to learn about their company competency and how well they value their employees.

1. How Do You Handle Employee Mistakes?

Employers always want to know how candidates have handled challenges or conflict in the past. They may say something like “Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.” To gauge how a company handles employee challenges and conflict, turn that question around and ask:

When an employee made a mistake, how did you respond?

Mistakes are bound to happen, so you want to know what you’re in for if you happen to blunder. As one CEO told the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “employees join companies, but they quit managers.” By asking this question, you can get a feel for the company’s discipline policy, conflict culture, and forgiveness scale based on the severity of a mistake.

2. How Do You Handle Difficult Clients?

Difficult clients can create challenges for normal business operations and even decrease morale among team members. However, true professionals keep their cool in times of frustration and put their best face forward. So, ask your interviewers:

How does your team manage relationships with difficult customers?

You’re looking for signs of dedication to the business mission, professional integrity, and assurance. If it seems that the team crumbles when faced with demanding clients, you may question their ability to adapt to change and refine their standards.

3. How Established Is Your Workforce?

It’s usually a good sign when companies hire a slew of new employees. However, it may also indicate present or future instability. To get a sense for why your potential employer has so many jobs posted on sites like Virtual Vocations, ask something along the lines of:

Are you in a building phase or is your workforce well-established?

To be clear, you’re not looking for the average age of the company’s staff. Instead, you want to know why the business is seeking new team members. Perhaps they are getting ready to introduce a new product line and need extra support. Maybe they lost a lot of employees and are trying to dig themselves out of a hole.

Also, knowing whether employees tend to stick around for the long haul gives you an idea of how quickly you could promote to the next rank. If the company has loyal team members who love their jobs, you may move up the ladder more slowly than you’d like, depending on your career goals.

4. How Do You Support Employee Development?

A business is only as good as its people. Therefore, companies who truly want to advance and grow into industry leaders need to take care of their most valuable assets – their employees. In fact, a survey conducted by BetterBuys, a subsidiary of Catalyst Media, found that 92% of employees think personal development opportunities are important. For example, some companies offer college tuition reimbursement, certification program waivers, and in-house training. There’s no need to be shy about this one. Ask your interviewers point blank:

Are there professional development, mentor-mentee, or other educational programs in place?

By asking this question, you learn how much the company cares about transferring knowledge, supporting employees, and maintaining an intelligent, innovated workforce. These days, if the company doesn’t offer continuing education opportunities, they shoot themselves in the foot.

5. What Are Your Core Values?

Company websites provide a lot of information on how leaders want you to perceive them. However, web copy can misrepresent or embellish the true nature of the team. To remove the brush and get a glimpse of what the company genuinely cares about, ask:

What qualities in your workforce do you value most?

You want to learn about what character traits the company values. For example, do they prefer aggressive, type-A personalities or creative and inventive individuals? Do they welcome new ideas or prefer people who stick to convention? Just as recruiters are trying to assess whether you are a good fit for the company culture, you need to evaluate whether your personality aligns. If you suspect that who you are won’t jive with the company norms, then it’s possible you wouldn’t be happy working there.

6. How Do You Define Success?

Though company mission statements may include flowery language about serving clients, embracing innovation, and making positive impacts on society, do such companies practice what they preach? To get a better understanding of their real end goal, prompt some reflection by asking:

How do you define success within your organization?

The answer to this question helps unveil each company’s personality and what they expect you to contribute. Though all companies need to focus on revenue, profit, and return on investment, do they also value impact? Do they strive to provide the best customer service in the industry or create the happiest work environments? Do they aim to build a community in addition to a customer base? Before you accept an offer, consider how a company defines success and whether their motives align with your own.

7. What Are Your Biggest Challenges?

As a jobseeker, it’s motivating to know that your role is part of a bigger picture. Thus, you may want to learn about a company’s challenges and how you can help address significant problems. However, companies may not divulge their weaknesses to you during an interview. Therefore, you can find out where employers struggle by asking something like:

How does this role impact the organization and help you address your major challenges?

Listen carefully, as interviewers may hint at the company’s greatest needs and weaknesses. Use the answer to your advantage by explaining how you can help alleviate their burden and add value. Also, you can learn about how your work will impact the company and help achieve its mission.

8. What Is the Biggest Challenge for this Role?

Now it’s time to drill down into the details of your potential job so that you know what you’re getting yourself into. To get a feel for how well a role is understood, appreciated, and compensated, ask:

What are the most significant challenges associated with this role?

You might receive insight into problems that previous employees faced and how the company supports employees in the role. For example, if team members experienced a lot of unrealistic deadlines or conflicting information, the company may lack effective communication and project management.

9. What Do You Expect from New Employees?

Even if you’ve held the same type of job for 20 years, the unknown can still give you the jitters. To prevent any unnecessary anxiety and confusion, ask your interviewers:

What are your expectations for a new hire within one, three, and six months?

The answer to this question should be straightforward. If your interviewers have no idea how to respond, then they may not have set clear expectations or a defined onboarding process. However, if they know what they want out of new hires and have a designated timeframe, it may demonstrate effective management and attention to employee performance.

For example, Click Boarding, a web-based onboarding application company, compiled a list of statistics that show how effective onboarding can increase employee retention, worker engagement, and even company revenue. Thus, it’s worth asking employers about their expectations for new hires to get a preview of their onboarding process.

10. What Is Daily Life Like for this Role?

Though you read through the job description in the online post, you want to know what real day-to-day life is like. To discern between fact and fluff, ask:

What is a typical day like for a person in this role?

Consider throwing out a few follow-up questions about daily responsibilities, the speed of the workflow, how many meetings you can expect to attend, whether coworkers send dozens of emails or collaborate through cloud-based applications. Companies may seem like they’re on the cutting edge of technology and industry best practices, yet their daily grind may prove otherwise.

11. Do You Offer Advancement and Promotion Opportunities?

If a company hires you for a specific job, are you going to want to stay in that role forever? If you’re interested in moving along the career path, you’ll want to know where you’re headed. However, to be coy, you can ask something like:

What is a typical career path for someone in this role?

If your interviewers stumble upon their words and can’t give you a direct answer, it may mean that advancement isn’t part of their hiring intentions. That’s okay, as sometimes companies can’t offer you more than your current position. Just know that if you take the job, you may reach your peak after a few years and want to start looking elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for a place to settle in and grow for the long term, you may want to go with companies who offer career advancement opportunities, professional development programs, and promotion tiers that help you achieve your career goals.

12. When Do You Aim to Fill This Role?

Job searching is often a numbers’ game. Therefore, you want to apply to multiple jobs simultaneously and weigh all your options before accepting an offer. However, you don’t want to reject an opportunity in hopes of receiving another. In the event you get several interviews, you should get a feel for each employer’s hiring timeline by asking:

When do you expect to fill this role?

The answer helps you understand the company’s urgency to hire and when you can expect a response. For example, you can anticipate how much time you’ll have before your start date, whether you’ll need to put in a two-week or 30-day notice at your current job, and whether you’ll have time to sneak in a few more interviews for more attractive positions.

Need More Resources for Virtual Interviews?

If you’re already a Virtual Vocations member, read through our Interview Guide for Telecommuters to learn more about how to approach virtual interviews. You can find the guide in the Telecommute Toolkit, along with dozens of other downloads, such as industry guides, resumé templates, and The Telecommuting Handbook.

Don’t have access to these resources? Upgrade your membership and dive into premium e-courses, job search checklists, and resumé guides. Take advantage of our remote work expertise and use our service to find your next incredible telecommute job!

Can you think of additional questions remote job candidates should ask during virtual interviewsConnect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to share your tips. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credit: 1. iStock.com/AndreyPopov

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