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An interview with a company founder is a high-stakes conversation where it’s crucial not only to give good answers, but to ask good questions. This post will help you identify the best questions to ask founders in an interview.

In choosing your questions, keep these three points in mind:

What you ask can reveal as much about you as how you answer. Your questions can demonstrate the level of your interest, your preparedness, your values, your critical thinking skills and more. So don’t ask questions by rote; be both authentic (what do you really want to know?) and strategic (what will each question say about you?) in your choices.

Researching the company effectively will lead to better questions. For example, instead of asking “What are this company’s core values,” you might be able to say something like this:

“In an interview in Entrepreneur last year, you mentioned that the company is driven by passion and customer focus. How are those values reflected in everyday operations?”

The founder may throw your question back on you: “What do you think?” or “Why do you ask?” Bring curiosity and creativity, and be ready to welcome such inquiries. A conversation with a founder is similar to an interview with a CEO, in that it may be more challenging than most, but also more stimulating and enlightening.

15 great questions to ask founders in an interview:

Key areas to explore with a founder include the company vision and strategy, its culture and values, role expectations and career development, challenges and opportunities, and leadership.

Company Vision and Strategy

As the architect of this company, how do you envision its evolution over the next decade? What goals are you striving to achieve?
Can you share an inspiring moment or breakthrough that shaped your current growth strategy and your vision for the next milestone?
In what unique ways do you believe this company is transforming the industry, and how do you plan to sustain that transformative impact?

Company Culture and Values

Can you share a story that exemplifies how the company’s core values come to life in everyday operations?
How does the company foster a sense of community and synergy among teams, even in the face of diverse challenges?
What are the most crucial qualities an employee needs to thrive in this company’s culture?

Expectations and Career Development

What are the key performance indicators for this role, and how will success be measured?
What opportunities for career development and advancement are available with the company?
What resources and support systems are in place to help employees succeed?

Challenges and Opportunities

What are the biggest challenges the company is currently facing, and how is the leadership team addressing them?
Can you share an innovative way the company has recently adapted to industry changes?
What are the most exciting opportunities you see for the company in the near future?

Leadership

What principles underpin your leadership style, and how does that shape your interactions with the team?
Can you describe a pivotal decision where team collaboration led to an unexpected outcome?
How does the company’s leadership create an environment where feedback flows freely and sparks improvement?

An interview with a founder is a unique opportunity to explore the heart and soul of the enterprise. Be ready with good questions to ask founders in an interview–intelligent questions about issues you sincerely care about–and the conversation will give you insights you won’t find elsewhere.