Interview Tips

It is sometimes forgotten that a job interview is a two-way process; yes, a representative of the interviewing company will ask the bulk of the questions, but there is also ample opportunity for the candidate to put forward their own queries and find out what will be expected, when, why and how.

For every unsuccessful candidate there is also probably a jobseeker who receives a job offer but declines it, because their own questions about the job were not answered satisfactorily. Granted, posers about pay and holidays are no-nos, but digging into the qualities of the company and what it can offer are fair game, and if alarm bells ring it might be time to escape.

So when the process winds down and you are asked if there is anything that you would like to know from the interviewer, try one or more of these questions:

How Will Feedback be Delivered?

If your potential boss stares back at you blankly, then tread carefully. Without fair praise or constructive criticism you will struggle to gauge your progress, and establish where room for improvement exists. The correct answer may include regular scheduled appraisals with clear methods for evaluation and resolution perhaps based on the employee’s job description. The question shows that you will be keen to learn and improve, and act on mistakes, before you have even started. The process can also include regular periods of self-evaluation, as this piece from MarketingUpdate advises.

What Will be Expected of me in the First 3 Months/6 Months?

You should have some idea of what will be required but this gives you a chance to promote yourself as a person.

Don’t expect an answer such as “good timekeeping and attitude” because that is expected in any job. Aim to find out more concrete, tangible targets, and unless they are outrageous or totally unexpected, show how satisfied you are with the reply – and your confidence in meeting those expectations should you be given the role. Askmen suggests these ways of fitting in well and perhaps even getting a pay rise in the first three months.

Where do you see This Company Heading?

The great answers are expansion; more customers; new initiatives and technology. There are many negative answers and your boss might put a spin on it, or might be brutally honest, but if you’ve read the trade press or local news, or when you’re trying to find a job with jobstoday or other online options, you may have a fair idea of the answer already.

So your question – and the answer – shows that you’re either keen to join a company travelling in the right direction, or that you’re a strong piece of the solution in turning the company around.

What Happened to my Predecessor?

Who knows what the answer will be: “He was fired for incompetence”; “She left to join a global company”; “You’re talking to him”. If they left under a veil this is your chance to assure a potential employer that you will be better. But whatever the reason, showing that you’re interested in how your role came about is an interesting way of finding out what typically happens to those in your role – an early statement of ambition.

What do Employees do in Their Spare Time?

Some bosses won’t have a clue and won’t care, and that might not be an issue for you – but some will have taken the time to find out what makes their employees tick. By asking this question, you are showing that you want to socialise and fit in with your co-workers-to-be, and hopefully fit in well.

Bosses say that the most disappointing part of an interview is when a candidate fails to ask any questions. Enter the room armed with knowledge, but also an unanswered question or two, and you may stand out from the crowd.