Are you currently job searching? Here's a pro tip for interviews: Steel your nerves and ask the hard questions. It may sound unconventional and even counterintuitive to follow this advice. (Really, who thinks about grilling the interviewer?) But it's critical if you want to find the right fit. And the right fit is extremely important, especially in today's job market.

We’re in the midst of a fascinating shift in the labor market. People are resigning left and right from businesses with stubborn cultures. To avoid ending up at a horrible company that doesn't value your skills, time, or potential, you have to think about interviews as a two-way street.

As the interviewee, you need to come to the table prepared to ask pointed questions. This shows that you’re eager for a participatory, conjoined interviewing experience. Plus, you can glean information from your interviewer's attitude, tone, and word choice that informs your decision to work there.

Sounds a little like dating, huh? You wouldn’t be the first to make the connection. A recent Bloomberg piece discussed at length the similarities between finding a partner and finding an employer. The good news: Your perfect match is out there. You just need to interview potential company "candidates" using these four questions:

1. What is the personal user manual for my direct report?

This question may initially befuddle your interviewer. Most workplaces don’t create personal user manuals for their supervisors and managers. Instead, you could phrase this as: “Let’s say I have the opportunity to work for your company. What would I need to do in my first 90 days to be my manager's favorite employee?” You could even be more direct: “What team member traits drive the manager nuts?”

The interviewer's responses will tell you a lot about whether you can reasonably fulfill your employer’s requirements and manager's expectations. Jot down the answers to reflect on later.

2. What types of professional growth opportunities do you offer?

With this question, you're looking into your second salary (aka what you earn beyond what you're paid for work performed). This includes growth opportunities, advancement training, mentors who care and invest in your development, etc.

Experts say that most people change career directions about every five years. Any investment your employer makes in you can lead to your next salary or, better yet, a higher position in the same company. Therefore, you need to know how much your employer values growth. While ultimately you will hold the greatest influence on your own career, the right environment catalyzes that growth.

3. Why is this position open?

Job positions open up for a variety of reasons. No reason is inherently good or bad, but it can reveal a lot about the company and your place in it.

For example, if the last person in the position moved into a leadership role and you’d like to find a company with advancement opportunities, the position might be a good fit. On the other hand, the last person may have resigned to go back to school. In that case, you might see whether their choice was a personal decision or one influenced by a lack of internal training.

A great follow-up question to this one is to ask how many people have been in the position over the past two to three years. This will indicate how the company sees the role and whether you share the same vision.

4. Can you tell me about the person I’m replacing?

Please don’t accept any sweeping generalities from your interviewer after posing this question. It's nauseating to deal with an interviewer who answers in generalities instead of specific behaviors. If you encounter a basic answer, try digging deeper by asking, “What did people like about them?” or “What are some areas you’d like to see improved with your next hire?”

If the person interviewing you works in an unrelated department, ask whether they can talk to someone you'll be reporting to who can better answer this question. Be aware that you might need to move the conversation forward.

Are these questions a bit bold? Certainly. But it's worth it. If anyone gets upset because of your questions, take it as a red flag. That employer-employee relationship won't likely work out in the long run. The best companies see interviews as conversations, not interrogations. You should leave interviews with the most useful knowledge to make your next career move.

Author's Bio: 

Mike Monroe is a Christian, husband, dad, marketer, and wannabe athlete. Mike started working at Vector Marketing in 2000 as a student at Boston College. He wanted to stick out from the crowd and develop himself professionally. Nearly two decades later, that goal hasn't changed. Learn more at