In today’s job market, layoffs have unfortunately become common. According to a study by BambooHR, 65% of HR professionals stick to a “last in, first out” mentality, leaving new hires more susceptible to layoffs than long-standing employees. To avoid this fate, it’s crucial to thoroughly assess the stability of a company and role before accepting a job offer.
While it’s not always possible to predict with certainty what the future holds, asking the right questions during the interview process can give you valuable insights into the company’s priorities, hiring plans, office locations, team structure, decision-making processes, and more.
Questions to help you gauge a company’s stability before accepting a job offer
Current employees may be able to spot the signs of an impending layoff. But, as a job candidate, you may not be privy to the same information. Here are some questions that you can ask during the interview process that can help you gauge the stability of a company and role.
1. What are the top three to five priorities for the company?
Pay attention to whether your potential new team is on this list! Also, look for alignment across all members of the team.
Understanding the company’s strategic priorities can give you an idea of where the company is headed and whether your role aligns with those priorities. If your team is not mentioned among the top priorities, it may indicate that the team or the role you are considering may not be as stable or may not have the same level of support from the company. To maximize your chances of avoiding a layoff, you want to work on the core part of the business, not the new moonshot idea.
2. Why did you invest in this city? Which teams do you expect to scale there? How has initial hiring been?
If you’re considering a hybrid or in-office arrangement at a non-HQ site, you want to validate their commitment to this office location.
If you are considering a role in a location other than the company’s headquarters, it’s important to understand the company’s investment and plans for that location. Asking about the reasons for investing in that specific city, the teams expected to scale there, and the initial hiring efforts can provide insights into the company’s commitment to that location and the potential stability of your role there. As companies get more serious about having their employees return to the office, you want to know if your local office will still be open in the months to come.
3. Have there been significant changes to this team’s structure in the past year? If so, what were the goals of the change?
Determine the thoughtfulness and recency of major organizational changes.
Changes in team structure can have a significant impact on stability. Asking about recent changes to the team’s structure and the goals behind those changes can help you assess whether the team is undergoing frequent reorganizations, which may indicate instability. Additionally, understanding the thoughtfulness and recency of major organizational changes can give you insights into how the company manages change and whether it aligns with your values.
4. Can you give me an example of how a recent decision was made?
Narrow the question further to your specific area of focus. For example, if you are interviewing for a product manager job, ask how a recent product decision was made.
Understanding how decisions are made in the company can help you gauge the level of autonomy and collaboration you may have in your role. Asking for an example of a recent decision can shed light on the decision-making process, the involvement of different teams, and the level of transparency and collaboration within the company. This can help you assess whether the company’s culture and decision-making style align with your preferences and work style.
By asking these questions and carefully considering the responses, you can gather valuable insights into the stability of a company and role before accepting a job offer. While it’s not possible to predict the future with certainty, taking the time to assess these factors can help you make informed decisions and potentially avoid surprises such as layoffs in the future.
Remember to use these questions as a starting point and tailor them to your specific situation and priorities to ensure you gather the most relevant information for your needs.
Good luck with your job search!