Sep 17, 2015
By: Scott Span
So you’re going on a job interview? Congrats #jobseekers! A job interview is an exciting yet nerve wracking task.
It’s a lot like speed dating. You have a short window to shine and get a feel for a fit, the hiring manager, and the culture of the organization. It’s a lot to absorb in a short period of time. You’ve got to be at your best and you’ve got be on your toes.
What most job seekers I speak with don’t realize is that a job interview should be a 2-way interview. Yes - you’re trying to convince the interviewer that you’re the best candidate for the job. And hopefully they’re asking the right questions as well. As a candidate it’s important to ask questions that provide you an opportunity to shine. However - it’s also your opportunity to see if the job and the organization is really a fit for you.
Let me blunt for a moment - you’re obviously not happy with your current job if you’re going out on job interviews. Perhaps you’re not happy with your management, the culture, or the direction of your current company. Maybe it’s the rewards and recognition - or lack thereof. You’re certainly not happy with something about your current job. So how can you be sure you’re not walking into an identical situation?
Start by asking these 7 interview questions to determine whether the place you’re interviewing is the best place for you:
Why do you enjoy your job here?
If your future boss can’t articulate a good value proposition - time to rethink why you want to work there. Sure, we don’t all enjoy our job everyday - however, some positives should exist. The person interviewing you should enjoy their role and be able to explain in specifics why they chose that role and what is keeping them within the organization. If they sound miserable, or look miserable, chances are you may be miserable working for them. This question also sheds light on learning and growth opportunities, performance management, and culture. If the answer is generic or the body language seems uncomfortable - don’t hesitate to ask more probing questions.
How would you describe the culture?
Culture is how work gets done. Culture means different things to different people. Organizations are like snowflakes, no two are the same. You want to make sure the culture is a fit for you to succeed. Is it fast paced? Is there a complicated hierarchical structure? Does it align to your needs and means of success? Listen to the words they use when responding. Are they using words like collaborative, innovative, supportive, diverse? If the language they use isn’t positive - high likelihood the culture isn’t either.
What has your biggest challenge been here - and - how did you overcome it?
No organization is perfect. Each has their own set of issues and problems. That’s ok. Everyone has their own way of dealing with organizational challenges. Asking this question gives you a glimpse into some of the challenges you may encounter while trying to get your job done. It will also provide you some insight into how you can resolve potential issues. Is management supportive of new ideas? Is communication in all directions valued? Is the organization heading in a good direction? You want to know what you’re walking into.
How do you measure success here?
This is a VERY important question to ask. This will tell you how you will be evaluated in your role. Don’t hesitate to dive into specific questions to determine how they define success versus status quo. What is the performance management process? It’s more than metrics and process. This question can provide some insight into how specifically does your potential future boss measure success? What do they value? Do these things align with what you’re looking for and how you define success? No one wants to be set up for failure.
Tell me the first 3 things you would do if you were in this role?
This question is also very important. This basically gives you the expectations your future boss has for the person in this role. It also gives you some insight into their priorities. Have you done these 3 things before? Do these things make sense to you? Can you achieve success? Use this question as a platform to shine. Connect their expectations with your background and experience. If you can’t do this then the role may not be a fit.
What is the future direction of the organization, and, how can I help in achieving success?
The future direction of the organization can tell you if you’ll be looking for a new job in a year or whether you’re going to be there for the long haul. Does the future include your role? How will your role affect the direction of the organization? How can you contribute to success? Are you a major player or are you a bystander? Not everyone wants to be the overachiever but not everyone wants to be a drone either. It’s important to know the direction the business is headed. You can then use examples from your past experience to help highlight how you’ve helped similar organizations achieve success.
Why do you think I’m a fit for this role?
I recommend saving this question for last. Toward the end of the interview process you should have a gut feel for whether or not the role is a fit for you. Now it’s time to see what the interviewers think. Sure, you can’t expect a detailed answer after an hour or so, however, sometimes you’ll get a candid response. And pay attention to body language and tone. This is a good question to get inside the head of your (potential) future boss. What about your experience caught their attention? Were they getting to know you as person so they can answer non generically? Do they even know what they’re really looking for - personality, skills, and culture fit? And do these things align to your career and personal goals?
In conclusion - don’t forget - it’s your job to ask the right questions, probe for more details, and show-off why you’re the best candidate for the job. These 7 questions should help you get at the information you need to determine a fit and set you up for success.