Career Ninja Series Step 5: Interview Your Next Boss – turn the table in your favor with these hot questions!

career ninjaCongratulations Career Ninja; you’ve landed an awesome interview!

Now it’s time to sit back and relax, right?


Getting the interview is great – but let’s face it – most of what’s gotten you this far is your ability to look good on paper (and online).  Now the test is to back that up with some stealthy interview skills.

**The biggest mistake candidates make is being passive in the interview**

Look up the definition of “interview” and you’ll find that it’s synonymous with a dialogue, a discussion, or an exchange of information between two parties.  But, far too often, we allow an interview to be a one-sided conversation; where ‘they’ ask questions and ‘we’ offer responses.  End of story.

In this scenario, the employer holds all the power and we hope (pretty-please!) to get picked for the job.


True Career Ninja’s (i.e. the most successful job candidates) recognize that they DO have power and they use it to turn the interview table in their favor… They take control, ask the employer some tough interview questions, and own a piece of the conversation.

How can you be a Career Ninja in the interview?

Ask the employer these 5 powerful questions:

1.  Where is this organization headed in the next 3 to 5 years?   

This question sets an important tone with the employer.  For starters, it tells them that they’re not just talking to a well-dressed chimp.  It says, “I’ve got some skills here and I don’t want to risk them on an organization that’s headed for trouble.” Employers are impressed with candidates that can elevate the conversation from a local focus (can you do this job?) to a global focus (do you fit our organization?) and this question certainly does that.

Read between the lines: an employer response that uses words like “restructuring” or “streamlining” – can signal rough years ahead as the organization navigates major upheavals.  Likewise, an employer that emphasizes “cost savings” or “upgrading assets” in their response signals that the organization may be facing some lean times. Alternatively, terms like “expansion” or “launch” hint at a growing business.

2.  What changes are necessary for the organization to succeed over this time frame? And how can this role contribute?

This question follows on the heel of the previous one.  It conveys to the employer that you’re not just concerned about your individual success, but the success of the larger organization.  Employers are increasingly jaded by fair-weather employees; those that are happy to collect a paycheck when times are good but that complain, disengage or leave when things get rocky.  Asking this question distinguishes you as someone who’s not afraid of hard work and is thinking long-term.

3.  How would your fans describe your management style?

This is a classic, 2-part, Ninja-style interview question. In fact, you may have even been asked this in an interview before – and that’s precisely what makes it so powerful when you turn it on the interviewer!  Ideally asked to a person who’ll be your manager or supervisor, it reveals important clues about how they operate when they are at their best.

4. How would your critics describe your management style?

This is the mind-blowing follow-up to question #3.  It’s best delivered with a smile because, when you ask it, the interviewer is going to realize just how clever you are.  Their response will tell you (a) whether they have sense of humor and (b) where their management weaknesses lay.

Note: for questions #3 and #4, you can tailor this question to your own interests. Feel free to substitute “management” style for things like communication, interpersonal, work, or conflict.

5. When do you expect to make this hiring decision? (and) What are the next steps in this interview process?

Use this question to signal the end of the conversation.  It let’s them know that you’re satisfied with what you’ve learned, are interested in pursuing the opportunity, and are planning for the next steps.  Like the previous questions, this one too allows you to claim your power in the interview and to direct the conversation – rather than just following it.

Use these 5 questions in your next job interview to go from passive to powerful.  You’ll feel more in control and you’ll make a strong impression with your next boss.

Way to go Career Ninja!

Heather Petherick is a master success coach for high potential business leaders, having established her private coaching practice in 2007. Since then, she’s coached hundreds of emerging leaders and entrepreneurs from around the globe to overcome the mindset traps that keep them playing small so that they can realize their potential and create the impact they’re meant for. Her areas of speciality are: • Mindset • Confidence • Communication • Speed of Implementation Her clients include corporate rising stars at WestJet, Agrium, Suncor Energy, Manulife Bank, TD, Royal Bank of Canada, KMPG and PepsiCo International as well as big-thinking entrepreneurs from around the world. She has been featured as a career and success expert with Women Engineering The Future, The Royal Bank of Canada, Canadian Living Magazine and Chatelaine magazine. Heather’s journey from growing up on a humble sheep farm on the prairies of western Canada to building a global coaching business have lent to her signature coaching style that combines both wit and humility, style and business savvy. She holds a Master’s degree in Management and lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband and two children.

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