Selling your strengths should be a top priority in a job interview, but don't downplay the importance of addressing your own needs. Interviews are your chance to determine whether a job opening is a good fit or a nightmare in disguise. Before you pounce on an attractive offer, ask the right interview questions to make sure the day-to-day realities match your expectations.
1. What Are the Everyday Responsibilities for This Job?
Clever recruiters often highlight the most attractive features of a job opening, which may not reflect your daily responsibilities. If the interviewer can't offer a clear breakdown, ask to speak with someone who worked in a similar position. Otherwise, a job that seems like a great learning experience might turn out to be mindless grunt work.
2. Does This Role Offer Opportunities for Advancement?
While many opportunities stem from your own ingenuity, it's wise to find employers who prioritize employee development. If you value career advancement, find out what learning and mentoring resources the company offers and how employees earn promotions.
3. How Would You Describe the Culture?
A stressful culture might not be worth the salary or benefits. Probe for details about work schedules, leadership styles and team atmospheres. The interviewer's demeanor is just as important as the answers. If the environment is supportive and engaging, it shouldn't be hard for the interviewer to show genuine enthusiasm.
4. Is This Job More Collaborative or Independent?
For long-term satisfaction, look for job openings that suit your work style. If you don't enjoy working in silos or small teams, it's essential to seek out employers who value team collaboration and transparency between departments.
5. How and When Do You Conduct Performance Reviews?
Learning about an employer's evaluation process can prepare you for performance expectations if you get the job. On the other hand, you might prefer to pass on the job opening if the company uses morale-crushing practices, such as stack ranking.
6. How Does the Company Stay Current With Industry Changes?
Many interviewers aren't prepared to discuss the company's challenges or plans, which can reveal a lot about an employer's level of innovation and transparency. If the interviewer can't or refuses to answer, the company may be plagued by silos, confidentiality clauses and poor communication.
7. What Are the Advantages of Joining a Company This Size?
All job openings have advantages and disadvantages, so this interview question can help you compare multiple companies. Large and medium-size companies may offer bigger salaries, high-profile clients or more health benefits, but a smaller business might offer more work flexibility, responsibility and leadership mentoring. Keep in mind, interviewers are paid to make the company seem appealing. Instead of taking everything at face value, try to confirm the interviewer's responses by talking to past employees or researching the company online.
Job openings exist for a reason, and it's not always because the last person in the position was promoted. Meeting hiring managers and employees in person is invaluable for spotting red flags that are hard to uncover through research. Job responsibilities become a core part of your everyday identity and wellness, so it's wise to vet an employer as much as possible before making a commitment.
Photo courtesy of betterDCregion at Flickr.com