We have great news: COVID hasn’t stopped interviews from happening. If you’ve landed an interview that you’ve vied for – congratulations! The key to ensuring it’s a great job is to ensure you understand the organizational culture, the hiring manager’s leadership style, and that the role and responsibilities reflect what’s important to you. Therefore, as you prepare for this interview, develop a list of interview questions to help you decide if you want to work for that organization.
While the interviewer is checking you out, you also need to determine if there is a fit: an alignment of your skills, interests, and values with the role you are interviewing for. For example, if you value teamwork you need to ensure the organization promotes a culture of collaboration, open communication, and trust. If you are a strong decision-maker, you need to avoid working for a micromanager.
But how does one determine that ideal fit?
Know What’s Important to You
When job searching, we often want to close the gap and land a new job quickly. But it’s vital to make smart choices so we’re not 6 or 12 months into the job and realizing it’s a bad fit, the manager is challenging to work with, or the job expectations are out of reach.
Take time now to identify what type of work you are truly passionate about. Also, clarify what drains and disengages you. Next, identify your key values. Once you establish these key elements you can ask specific, targeted questions to ensure the job is a great fit for you.
Tap into Your Headhunter
If a recruiter or employment agency referred you to the role, they can help you get a leg up. Ask them about the critical issues impacting the role, why the position is open, and insights into the culture to help you determine if the role aligns with your skills and values. Dig deeper by asking what personal qualities and characteristics they think will be a great fit for the role.
Do Your Reference Checking
Turn the tables and do some espionage work to find out if there are issues or challenges with the hiring manager, the team or within the organization. Use your network to source former employees, clients, and vendors who can give you an insider’s perspective.
Don’t Rush the Interview Process
Each interview provides an opportunity for you to ask questions to learn more about the role and assess if it a great fit. Dive deep and ask questions to help you understand their culture, the role and its responsibilities and deliverables. You can then determine if the opportunity is something you will truly enjoy.
Avoid leading too hard and fast with your agenda and questions. (We see this behaviour when someone has been burned by an earlier employment experience.) Keep in mind that interviewing is like dating – you don’t tell the person your whole life story, warts and all. You get to know each other and ask questions to see if there’s a match.
Do You Have Any Questions for Me?
One of the most commonly asked interview questions is: Do you have any questions for me? According to a senior adviser at a global executive search firm, a job candidates’ biggest mistake is “not asking enough questions about the new job, its challenges, and the performance expectations.”
Asking questions helps you gain insight into what the job entails, key accountabilities, and benchmarks for success. You can then, leverage these questions to discuss why you’re a great fit for the position, and determine if the role matches your needs.
Ask Open-ended Questions
When the recruiter or hiring manager asks you if you have any questions, this is your golden moment! Bring a list of 6 to 10 questions – although you may only have time to ask a few. Ask questions that show you are truly interested in learning about the organization and role.
Create open-ended questions using ‘who, what, when, how, and why’, versus closed questions where you only get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. Open-ended questions create conversations that can help you learn about key issues, challenges, and opportunities that role will need to address.
Ask Questions of the Team and Key Stakeholders
Before accepting any job offer, complete your due diligence by meeting with the team and stakeholders you will be working with. Ask deeper questions to assess the work culture, determine job responsibilities, learn how decisions are made, assess the manager’s leadership style, and the stakeholders’ needs.
Sample Interview Questions
These thoughtful and probing questions will help you stand out from other interview candidates and provide you with key information to determine if the job is a great fit for you.
- What do you see are the priorities for someone in this job?
- What are the performance goals for this position?
- What are the key skills and abilities you are looking for?
- What are the key qualities required for someone to excel in this role?
- What does success look like in this position? How do you measure it?
- What are the key accomplishments you’d like to see in this role over the next year?
- What are your 30 and 60-day, and one-year expectations for someone in this role?
- What do you see as the most challenging aspect of this job?
- Why is the position vacant?
- What organizational problems keep you awake at night?
- What is the biggest challenge facing your division and this position?
- What is the most important problem I can help your organization solve?
- What is the biggest issue or problem this role needs to address?
- How would you describe the workplace culture here?
- What’s your leadership style? How do you like to manage and lead your employees?
- What level of decision making is involved in this role? What types of decisions do you like to be involved with?
- What are the day-to-day responsibilities for this role?
- How much of this role involves (note a specific job task that you enjoy doing or job task you wish to avoid)?
- What do you like best about working for this company?
- What drew you to work for this organization? And what keeps you here?
- What projects are you excited about?
- Looking 5 years out, where is this company headed? Or, what does this company want to achieve?
- Can you tell me about the typical career path for someone coming into this role with your company?
- What are the opportunities for growth and advancement for this position?
- Are there any Professional Development opportunities? If so, what do these look like?
Remember to jot down answers to the questions you ask. Review them after your interview as they will most likely give rise to other questions to ask in a follow-up interview.
Need Interview Practice, or Job Search Help?
Our team of Career Coaches are standing by. We are open for business and are working virtually to meet our clients' needs. If you need resume writing, a refresh of your LinkedIn profile, interview practice or resources to support your career exploration contact us today for a complimentary telephone consultation to discuss your needs and how we can help.
Joanne Loberg Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional
JL Careers Inc.