It is common to feel the pressure to sell yourself during an interview, and whilst this is important, you shouldn’t let it become one sided.
It is just as important that your potential employer is selling themselves to you too, and if they aren’t then you need to take matters into you own hands, by asking them as many questions as they are asking you.
Lets get in to what you should be asking and why.
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What are my growth prospects?
There are various ways to word this but the question and any derivatives should always boil down to the same things: How will this job benefit me in the long term? What is the career path? What is your long term vision and how do I fit into that? Where do you see the company in five years time? Do you have any success stories you can share? Why is this position being filled?
You need to know what your prospective employer can do for you, vague or evasive answers are always a red flag. A great employer will be passionate, with stories of previous company successes, their plans for the future and how you can help them achieve these goals.
In addition they will give you an open answer on how it’s possible to move up through the company given time and experience, perhaps citing examples of other individuals who have done so.
What is your management style?
Despite transactional requirements often asking for qualities including “autonomous”, “team player”, or “multi-tasker”, this doesn’t necessarily reflect your potential manager’s style.
Ask a manager directly what kind of style they employ, and what they expect from their team, making sure to probe deeper when you need to. You don’t want to be micromanaged, but total abandonment isn’t appealing either, so look for a happy medium.
Another test of management style is to query organizational skills by asking about the onboarding process awaiting you; what has your prospective superior planned? A detailed response shows not only good organizational skills, but empathy too, essential for a positive working relationship.
What does a typical day look like?
This seemingly innocent question can tell you a lot about how a company operates. For example, the further your actual day to day responsibilities diverge from the transactional requirements stated on the job listing, then the less you may be inclined to trust them.
At a common sense level we can all accept that basic trust is extremely important in the workplace. You don’t want to feel like you are going to be working for an employer that is going to hide, or even forget to tell you important details.
You want to find someone who is as responsible and on the ball as you are, or realistically, better than you, so you have a role model to learn from. Progression takes more forms than just entry to C-Level after all. A superior or organisation that prizes soft skills and hard skills helps cultivate a learning culture that breeds success, day after day.
Keep it professional
Remember this is an interview not an interrogation, so mind your professional courtesy whilst treading around topics that could be sensitive.
Consider answers carefully, transparent responses are indicators of healthy company culture, but make sure you are satisfying your own requirements. If an employer tells you that there are no opportunities for progression, then whilst you know they are honest, lack of progression may affect your decision if you are looking for a long term role.
Similarly if the reason for the position becoming available is because someone left, you need to follow up. How does the company view this individual, did they leave to pursue new opportunities or because of toxic work culture? Be polite but persistent, without straying beyond professional boundaries.
What did you learn?
After your interview, analyse your information. You may have multiple offers so make a list to compare and contrast the merits of each one.
But when making your final decision, stay true to your core values and beliefs; what kind of person are you and where you would best fit in? Which opportunity aligns the most with your goals and ambitions? The better you understand yourself, the better your decision will be, good luck!
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