When interviewing for jobs, I recommend coming up with two sets of questions. The first set are all the questions you ask because you want the facts: salary, benefits, amount of travel, number of people you'll be supervising, the size of the budget, and so on. The second set are more subtle, because the answers contain information that lies beneath the surface of the answers you get. These are questions that give you information about the culture of the organization beyond the canned responses of "our values as stated in our strategic plan are . . ." or "we encourage all of our employees to . . . " . Here's an example from my own career:
When I interviewed for the position of Scientific Director at a women's health research advocacy organization, I talked (separately) to three people: the Executive Director (CEO), the Deputy Director (COO), and a member of the Board of Directors. I asked each of them, "Is this a feminist organization?" and I got three very different responses.
CEO: "No, absolutely not, we can't call ourselves that and be effective in the work we do on the Hill and at the agencies."
COO: "What do you mean by 'feminist'?" (This led to a great conversation about how feminism influenced my management style, how I regarded and treated staff, etc.)
Board member: "Absolutely it is. I wouldn't be involved if it weren't."
All of these were the "right" answers. The CEO's focus was on growing the organization's reputation as a thought leader and its influence among lawmakers and policy makers, in order to achieve the organization's goals. The COO's focus was on how well I would fit into the organization's culture and style of management. The Board member had the big picture in mind - how does this organization fit in the wider world of policy and politics?
What is your favorite question to ask when you interview for a job?