questions to ask someone who has the job you just got promoted to

A reader writes:

Do you have any ideas for questions to ask someone who already has the role that you just got promoted to?

Great question! Here are some that come to mind, and I hope others will join in with their own suggestions:

* What surprised you about the role that you didn’t know when you first started in it? What was different from what you had expected?

* What are the biggest challenges you face and why?

* How can you tell when you’re being successful? How do others measure your success?

* Is there any recent history in the department or job I should be aware of?

* What advice do you wish someone gave you when you first started?

* What advice do you have about working with other departments/people that this job interacts with a lot? What things should I be sensitive to?

* What are the most common requests that come your way?

* What are the most common problems you encounter, and how do you handle them?

* What were the big things you are trying to achieve this year?

* What things are worrying you?

* What’s the best approach to working with our manager? What does she like and dislike? What’s hardest about working with her? What’s the best thing about working with her? What surprised you about her?

What suggestions do other people have?

{ 9 comments… read them below }

  1. Brittany*

    If their journey to that position was different, what advice do they have from experience you may not have been exposed to?

  2. Anonymous*

    Don't just ask about the big things within the coming year, find out the goals to accomplish in the next 90 or 180 days

  3. Gale Bowman*

    Great list! I would also suggest asking these questions of people that hold jobs that you'd LIKE to be promoted into in the future. This list of questions can also be used for coffee meetings with individuals that you consider mentors (caution: make sure these people like you before asking them to mentor you!) Finally, think about potential mentors or jobs in other departments – making these connections now can pave the way for a promotion possibility in the future.

  4. Anonymous*

    Is it appropriate to contact someone that you do not know but that currently hold the position that you are interested in applying on. I have some concerns about the job and found the person who currently holds the positions email from the organizations website and on linked in. They aren’t the contact person on the posting.

    It is a non-profit organization and I have worked at one in the past and it was overworked and underpaid. Lots of long hours and volunteer. The job opportunity sounds interesting but instead of having me waist their time I was thinking why not get first hand information by sending a friendly, tactful and professional email inquiry? Is this totally inappropriate?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d wait until after you’ve applied and the organization has shown interest in moving you forward in their process. That’s more polite, since you’re asking the other person to spend their time talking with you before establishing that you’re a strong candidate.

      1. Anonymous*

        Fair enough. But once the process has started does it infringe some type of fairness/advantage rule or type of conflict towards getting the job?
        Thanks for your help!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It doesn’t violate any fairness rule, but you just want to be careful not to appear to be circumventing the hiring manager or presuming you’re getting the job :) Also assume that anything you say to the person will be repeated back to the hiring manager.

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