Job Interviews … now that’s a statement. We all seek the perfect career, working for the perfect company only to find ourselves stuck and feeling so uninspired by the second year into our career.

Red flags? Did I miss anything here because I just wanted the job, almost in a calm and cool way pleading, showing off my strengths, the pick me, pick me spirit and losing myself because I just want it so badly.

While trying so hard, you could be forgetting a key component to the interview process:

Do you want to work for that company? Does it meet your needs? Would it be a culture fit? Is your boss going to drive you insane?

And then we wonder why we’re so unhappy in the job two years down the road. Not every job or company is a good fit for you — and the interview process is all about figuring that out, for both sides.

The company side has things figured out, they know who they want, the options and competition is endless. Let’s focus on you to ensure you aren’t blinded by the desire to want to be picked first.

Four important questions you should be asking the interviewer:

1. Why Is This Position Open?

There can be several reasons why a position is open, read between the lines here.

  • “It’s a new position that was just created.”
    Awesome. So the company is growing and expanding and needs more people to help do the work.
  • “We’re replacing someone who left the company.”
    This isn’t always a bad answer, but it can mean many things. This answer tells you the previous holder of this position either quit or was fired.
    “How many times has this role been filled?”
    The previous person left just under a year ago. —- red flag
    Essentially, you’d be walking into a role with ridiculous expectations. I’d suggest you ask for a bit more information if possible. HR tends to be the best person to ask for more info, as they will have the least bias.
  • “We promoted the previous person.”
    If the person was promoted into a new position within the company, your next immediate question should be, “What is that person doing now?”
    If the answer is in any way, shape or form followed up with, “She’ll be your boss,” do not accept the position. This is the biggest red flag for your opportunities at the company. While it’s awesome that they promote from within, stepping into the shoes of someone who will now be your boss is a lose-lose situation. In fact, I have never seen it work out.

2. How Long Have You Been At the Company?

While length of service doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness or staying power anymore, it will give you a sense for the knowledge base of your soon-to-be manager. It will also help you understand how much flexibility you may have in navigating the company and potentially changing the status quo.

If the interviewer has been with the company for more than three to five years, chances are he’s pretty set in his ways. If he’s been there less than a year, he’s still trying to figure out the place himself. While this will definitely allow for more flexibility for you, it means he hasn’t yet fostered deep relationships and influence cross-functionally. And if that will be a critical component of your job, just know that you’ll be spending a lot of time convincing people to pay attention.

3. What Are Your Hours of Operation?

Depending on your own thoughts towards workplace flexibility, understanding if the company has strict hours or flexible ones — and how you feel about that — is a critical culture-fit decision point. As we become more and more connected and capable of getting things done from anywhere in the world at any time, this question will start to play a bigger and bigger role in all of our lives. If the interviewer answers that their hours are strictly 08h00am to 05h00pm, you should assume you’ll have to report to work at those times. Be forewarned – zero flexibility. Traffic to work and traffic home.

In addition, be sure to ask this question of your potential direct manager, if this isn’t the same person who’s interviewing you. It doesn’t really matter what the company thinks on this topic, but rather what your manager thinks and will allow.

4. What Is Your Annual Leave Policy?

This is a question that’s seldom asked during the interview process for fear of coming across as eager to take time off before you even start. But here’s the thing, you need to know what you’re getting into with regards to boundaries.

Many of us have had a job where we were on vacation but we still got urgent emails and phone calls and were expected to be available. I’m not sure if anything is more of an employee engagement killer than that, regardless of who you are. So ask your potential boss about it.

Overall, asking the right questions during the interview process will not only help you determine if the company is the right fit for you, it will also help you avoid having to look for another job in the near future.