5 Powerful Questions to Ask Your Next Employer
You’ve just got the call. We’d like you to come in for an interview. Wow! That feels good.
Now the nerves kick in. You jump online to review the company’s website. You research, you pick out your outfit, you rehearse how you will answer those “What if?” questions, and now you feel ready.
In this whole process, however, how much time have you spent preparing to ask the crucial questions that will help you decide whether the opportunity is a good fit for you? If you’re like most people, preparing these types of questions is more of an afterthought. We spend most of our time figuring out how to best sell ourselves, but it's also important to remember that employment—even careers in the health and wellness industry—is a two-way street.
A company and the role need to be a good fit for you, as much as you need to be a good fit for them. If you LOVE your job and where you work, you’re going to be more productive too, so it is WIN-WIN for your employer!
At ACHS, we love it when prospective employees come with questions. As a When Work Works winner (a nationally recognized award for companies offering effective and flexible workplace practices), we value hearing what our employees are looking for in a work environment.
So, as someone who values holistic health and wellness and wants to feel good about the work you’re doing, ask yourself: How do I want to feel at work? How do I want to feel when I walk in the office?
Author Danielle LaPorte, in her book The Fire Starter Sessions, says that, “Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have.” Thinking about how we want to feel is a different way to think about things, isn’t it? We all say we want to feel happy, but what does happy feel like to each of us? What would being joyful and fulfilled at work feel like?
Now, here are five powerful questions to ask your potential employer to help determine whether the “job” is also (hopefully!) a passionate profession:
#1 What makes you proud to work at this company?
It’s always interesting to ask this and see what your interviewer says. Pride is often associated with arrogance. But Frank Sonnenberg, in his blog article “If You’re Not Proud, You’re Not Done”, promotes pride as the feeling you get when you’ve put your heart into your activities and you achieve accomplishments that are the result of hard work, perseverance, knowing you’ve done your best. By asking this question, you will get a sense of what the company does really well, and whether it resonates with you. You’ll also gain some insight on whether the work will feel meaningful to you.
#2 How would you describe the office atmosphere and work-life balance?
You want to be careful how you ask this question. The last thing you want to do is be perceived as a slacker or someone without a strong work ethic. Employers want to know what you’re going to bring to the table and believe you’re willing to give your all to achieve success for yourself, and for the organization. In other words, just tread lightly. Be mindful of your tone and body language and be an active listener.
One way you might ask this is, How would you describe a productive day and week in the life of your ideal candidate in this position?
Ideally, you’ve already asked yourself a similar question in advance of the interview (e.g., What is most important to me about work-life balance?) and can whole-hearted listen to the interviewer’s response knowing what will and won’t work for your lifestyle.
For example, maybe you have children and need to work for a company that values flexibility. Maybe you live a good distance from the office and want to explore whether there are any work-from-home options. Or maybe you’ve just come from a 70-hour a week environment and want to see what the expectation is around hours. Whatever the scenario, listen for signs of flexibility in the interviewer’s response and, if comfortable, ask a follow-up question or two.
Pro tip: Save question #2 until the end of the interview, after you’ve made a stellar first impression!
#3 How does the company give and receive feedback?
It’s a good indication that a company is healthy when it has a solid plan in place for giving and receiving feedback. To be truly successful in a holistic health and wellness job (or any job, really), you need to understand the expectations and whether you’re meeting them. There is nothing worse than hearing nothing!
A healthy company also encourages employee feedback and ideas, which keeps everyone engaged and connected to company success. Why? Giving effective feedback is a vital part of communication and is perhaps the most important communication skill, as Bob Dignen explains in his blog, Cambridge English.
#4 What are some of the ways the company celebrates success?
This may seem like a trivial thing, but how (or if) a company celebrates success gives great insight into its culture. In her article, “Why It’s Important to Celebrate. A lot,” Janice Holly Booth says that, “Celebrating as a group bestows a sense of belonging, something crucial to human fulfillment.” Companies can build camaraderie and synergy by creating regular reasons to celebrate. And frankly, the holistic health and wellness industry has a lot to celebrate these days! There is more opportunity than ever to gain credible training and pay that knowledge forward to the community. Plus, it’s just a much more fun and lively work environment when celebration is part of the culture.
#5 Are there any formal wellness initiatives at the company?
Many companies have instituted wellness programs, but as Holly Lebowitz Rossi explains in Fortune, 7% of companies surveyed offer a comprehensive program. Rossi’s article goes on to describe the five hallmarks of a successful corporate wellness program. Before you interview, give 5 Hallmarks of Successful Corporate Wellness Programs a read, and craft a couple questions based on what is most important to you. You might also come prepared to share what you can offer to help build these programs if the company indicates they don't have any formal initiatives.
There are also, in many cities, some sort of “Healthy Employer” awards or list. The organization called Healthiest Employers provides metrics and a way for companies to find out how they rate. There are six values essential to a healthy workplace: Vision, Culture/Engagement, Learning, Expertise, Metrics, and Technology. Learn more about the criteria and how they relate to your values.
Finding the best fit in a company can be tricky, and there will always need to be compromise; however, discovering what the company does well and is proud of, what the work-life balance is like, how feedback and celebration are handled, and what wellness initiatives are in place will give you a really good sense of whether this company is aligned with your values and needs from a holistic perspective.
Best of luck in your search, and remember … learning doesn’t stop once you get hired! The health and wellness industry is continually expanding and evolving. Stay on top of the trends with on-demand continuing education courses. Learn how to show up as your best self with personal holistic nutrition tips or master a new skill like self-publishing in the holistic health industry. The options are endless!
Ready to take your professional skills to the next level? Refine your communications and coaching in NAT 305 Wellness Coaching & Communication Skills Online or build your business acumen in NAT 306 Holistic Health Consulting & Business Skills Online.
 LaPorte, D. (2014). The Fire Starter Sessions. New York, NY: Harmony Books.
 Sonnenberg, F. (2013, July 16). If you’re not proud, you’re not done. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.franksonnenbergonline.com/blog/if-youre-not-proud-youre-not-done/
 Dignen, B. (2014, March 17). Five reasons why feedback may be the most important skill. Cambridge English: Cambridge Conversations. [Blog]. Retrieved from http://www.cambridge.org/elt/blog/2014/03/five-reasons-feedback-may-important-skill/
 Booth, J.H. (n.d.) Why it’s important to celebrate. A lot. Life Reimagined. [Online] Retrieved from https://lifereimagined.aarp.org/stories/4581-Why-It-s-Important-to-Celebrate-A-lot-
 Rossi, H.L. (2015, April 13). 5 hallmarks of successful corporate wellness program. Fortune.com. [Online] Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2015/04/13/corporate-wellness/
Disclosure of Material Connection: This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.