The person that previously had this position is no longer around and we want to find out why. This could be due to a number of different reasons. They could have simply moved on to other greener pastures within the company. They could also have left the company to find other opportunities. Perhaps they were not able to reach their goals or were fired?
The reason why the person is no longer in the company is relevant as you evaluate this opportunity and the ability to be successful in the role. Asking your future manager this can lead you into discussing areas such as why they were disappointed with the previous employee's performance as well as results and goals associated with the role.
This is a more informal way of trying to find the answers to other similar questions. See the suggestions below, but also view the goals, mistakes and examples for the related questions listed below.
Discover Career Opportunities: You can use this question to discover what the possible career opportunities associated with this position are.
Discuss Potential Career Opportunities: This can easily start a conversation about development opportunities in the company overall but of course within the department as well. Try to find out if they have any internal policies in regards to career advancements.
Discuss Previous Employee Performance: You are not aiming to gossip about the previous employee, but it is important to understand what the previous employee did "wrong" and how you can avoid their mistakes.
Discuss Results and Goals: This job interview question is a great conversation starter to get employers talking about results and goals associated with this position.
Assume Similar Opportunities: Just because the previous employee went on to head up the Japanese sales office, this does not mean that you will have the same opportunity. Listen to what has happened to the person, but do not make assumptions.
Not asking more questions: If the manager tells you that the previous employee is no longer with the company, you need to ask additional questions. You do not need to know if the employee was fired or left voluntarily, but you need to know what you can learn from their work. What did they do great and what could you improve?
All Questions to the Hiring Manager at Job Interview