When in a job interview, you (the candidate) expect that you will be asked questions and your role is to answer them (with clarity and confidence). That’s usually the way things go if you are fortunate enough to have gotten to this stage in your job search.
However, the job interview can, and should be, two-sided to achieve maximum benefit. By your asking probing questions (probably in the later part of the interview), you will not only elicit responses from the interviewer that will help you gain a more informed view about the job and the organization, but you will also demonstrate to the person behind the desk (or phone) that you are engaged, have your own brain and have a genuine interest in the position. So, here are ten questions to ask:
- What is the most important skill/ability needed to be successful in this position? Just as you have many skills and abilities, a job description often has a long list of those as well. Asking the interviewer which one is most important to the job will help you determine to what degree there is a solid match between you and the position. For instance, if “strong people skills” is rated as the most important skill and that is not one of your strong points, you may want to look at other positions that better match with your profile.
- What are the most immediate problems or challenges this person will face upon being hired? You may be surprised with the answer. Often a job interview acts primarily as a means to determine how well a candidate possesses the technical or other quantifiable qualifications for a given position. However, this approach can sometimes overlook some other issues or challenges that go far beyond one’s ability to do a job. This question may bring out some information that will provide a broader context for the job by identifying some significant problems or challenges that the jobseeker will face. Better to know these now during the interview rather than on the first day of the job.
- Six months from now, how will you know you hired the right person? This question gets at the priority expectations and deliverables that the employer seeks from the person filling the job. If you are interviewing directly with the person who will supervise you in this job, the question also helps that person solidify what these priorities really are. After the interview, review this list of job expectations and determine if you genuinely have the right experience and set of skills.
- How does the performance of this job contribute to the overall success of the business (or organization)? The answer will provide insight into the bigger picture. If the interviewer makes that connection clear, it means that the job you are interviewing for is probably viewed by others in the organization as critical to overall organizational success.
- What types of people are successful here and what types of people are not? This question elicits information about the culture of a company, e.g., how people are treated and what type of people are rewarded. Most people prefer to work within an environment that is similar to their own personal and professional style. The response to this question may be “people who toe the company line and closely follow the written policies.” If your own style is one favoring personal expression and creativity, it’s likely that if you take the job that there may be a potential conflict brewing in your future.
- What’s your (or my future boss’) leadership style? The response may be something like this, “I expect my people to know what they are doing, but I also want to look good to my own boss. That’s why I always check the work products of my people at every stage of the process.” This response may be one that fits well with your own work style. If not, keep looking.
- How are performance reviews conducted here? Are there standard performance review periods? Is there a probationary period for this position? What are the performance standards that will be reviewed for this position? How do I get a “gold star” on my performance review? What you’re trying to determine here is whether or not there is a a formal system in place and to what extent the associated process will allow you to succeed and be considered in the future for advanced job opportunities. If you’re someone that prefers regular and formal feedback on your performance you want to make sure that the hiring organization has such a system in place.
- What do you like best about working here and why do you stay? If there’s a long pause before an answer comes back, or if the answer is vague, it may pay you to check with other employees who work for that same organization to get their viewpoints. On the other hand, if the response is genuine, positive and resonates with what is important to you, then there may be a solid match for you.
- What is your time line for filling this position? Often candidates overlook asking this simple question. A response of “Within the next week,” is very different than, “Oh, probably within the next month or so.”
- What additional information may I provide you to help in your assessment of my qualifications for this job? This question may prompt a response such as, “Well now that you mention it, why don’t you send me a few samples of your work.” Just by asking this question you are demonstrating initiative as well as signaling to the interviewer that there is more to you than has already been covered during the interview.
You may not be able to ask all of these questions during an initial job interview, but circle a few of those questions to draw out responses that will be helpful to you in determining how close the match exists between you and the job.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NKJV). And, that includes a job interview.
By Keith Lundquist
For more blogs and related resources on building your faith during a job search, go to www.FaithBetweenJobs.com