While it’s true you can never be completely sure about how well you’ll adjust to working with a new boss, company, or team until you’ve actually started working, asking probing and strategic questions during the interview process is one of the easiest ways to gather useful intel about potential opportunities.Featured Videos
I mean, who wants to jump through all those hoops only to realize a month later that your boss is the ultimate micro-manager, your co-workers are backstabbers, and the work hours are closer to 60 than 40. Oh, and no one works from home, not ever.Advertisement
Coming up with questions to ask during your interview—especially ones that’ll help you learn more about what it’d really be like to work at the company (and make you look smart)—is hard but necessary. You don’t want to imply that benefits are all you care about or that your number one priority is flexible hours, and so there’s a bit of a science to knowing what to ask and when.
Given that the average interview process involves three to four rounds and can now stretch out over several weeks, you’ve got plenty of time to ask about job responsibilities, company culture, and team dynamic. Here are a few ideas for every stage.G/O Media may get a commission
Once you’ve made it past the second round, there should be little doubt in the hiring manager’s mind as to whether or not you’ve got the skills and qualifications needed for the role. The questions you’ll be asked at this stage will typically shift to ones that assess your overall cultural fit—this means what you ask them during this stage should shift as well.Advertisement
Although you’ve likely heard it many times before, it’s worth repeating: The interview process is a two-way street. Not only is it an opportunity for the company you’re interviewing with to find out if you’d fit seamlessly into their world, it also gives you the chance to confirm if the organization, department, and position itself are the right next step for you and your career.
It’s important that you use this time as your chance to learn as much as you can about the ins and outs of the role—especially those aspects that are the most critical for your own fulfillment—in order to make an informed decision that’s in the best interest of you and your career.Advertisement
Dorianne is a HR expert turned career development coach and blogger obsessed with teaching professionals how to unlock authentic and fulfilling careers through her articles, digital products and private coaching. In her free time, she enjoys reading self-help books, creating cocktails for her husband, mocktails for her daughter, and listening to Beyoncé. If you’re ready to uncover your true purpose, head on over to her online coaching boutique, Your Career Girl, to download your free blueprint today!Advertisement Featured Videos
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- Final thoughts.
How to Ace a Job Interview: Tips, What to Wear, and Answers to Tough Questions
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
The two most dreaded questions in a job interview usually come back-to-back—and “what are your strengths?” and “what are your weaknesses?” are difficult to answer. For strengths, pick a skill you have that applies directly the job. For instance, if you’re applying as a file clerk at a hospital, mention that you’re very good with details and can keep track of a lot of things at once. Tailor your strength directly to the job description you applied for in the first place.Advertisement
We’ve talked about how the question “What is your greatest weakness?” is next to impossible to answer correctly, but as we pointed out, it’s more about a situational weakness rather a personal one. Answer this question in direct relation to the job. For example, if you’re applying for that same file clerk job, but you have trouble lifting something over 50 pounds, mention that. Basically, picture the question as a benefit for you, not a hindrance. It’s a chance for you to test the waters of a job to make sure you can fit.
The other approach is to answer the question with an actual weakness, and then elaborate on how you’re working to correct it. Let’s say you respond that you have trouble keeping a clean desk at work. Follow that with, “I’ve been using a few new methods for organization recently to keep my desk uncluttered and organized.”Advertisement
Yet another approach is to choose an irrelevant skill when asked about your weaknesses. It trivializes the interview process a bit, but it also makes it so you can answer a question honestly without hurting your chances by pointing out a flaw related to the job.
The most important question during a job interview
That’s why, right now , the most important question to ask a prospective employer is: “How do you plan to handle your return to the office?” It’s a vital one that can make or break your interest in a job. A helpful Twitter thread from marketer Emily Coleman explains how a positive job interview can take a sudden nosedive if a company’s return to office policy is out of sync with your expectations.Advertisement
Coleman says the realization that the company hadn’t taken any real precaution with in-person work during the pandemic, combined with the sterile office environment, ultimately cratered her interest in the job. Moreover, a company’s plan for returning to the office can potentially speak volumes about how it values its employees on a broader level. If a workplace is having everyone follow a rigid order that not only doesn’t give you a say in your work schedule, but also subjects you to potential health hazards, then it might be time to move on to other opportunities . G/O Media may get a commission
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lifehacker interview questions
Company culture also extends to changes in infrastructure due to the pandemic. Many companies were forced to shift how they work entirely, moving from in-person work to a completely remote structure , or some mixture of the two . Ask how the company has handled obstacles during the pandemic and how the staff (including the interviewer) have been affected. You’ll get a feel for the company’s ability to care for its employees and the flexibility of management. It also gives the interviewer a chance to be introspective and candid with a hopeful future co-worker.
Liza Kirkpatrick, director of the Career Management Center at the Kellogg School of Management, told CNBC that interviewees should inquire specifically about the first 90 days of employment. Kirkpatrick advises asking, “What are the biggest challenges I’ll face in the first 90 days, and how will success be measured?” Asking about the challenges and measures of success gives you a clear picture of the company’s expectations, and also shows your ambition. Plus, it will help you figure out if those responsibilities and expectations make it seem like this is really the right job for you.
Interviews are a two-way street. As much as the interviewer is taking a microscope to you and your skills, you’re analyzing whether the company is genuinely the right fit for you. Asking questions during your interview helps you understand the company culture and is key to a successful interview. Job hunting site Circular Board reports that 47% of employers say they will reject candidates if they don’t appear knowledgeable about the company. Asking questions during the interview process shows you’ve done your research and you are interested in learning more. But what you ask also matters—the caliber of questions you ask could set you ahead of the competition. Featured Videos
In recent years, call-out culture has highlighted the problem of toxic workplace environments into question and demanded accountability for employee and company actions. And while the movement has led to a rise in anti-racist initiatives and company actions towards diversity and inclusion, that doesn’t mean the company you’re applying to lives and breathes them. Don’t be afraid to inquire about your prospective employer’s actions on this front. I once interviewed with a company whose treatment of Black women had been called into question. I respectfully asked how the situation had been addressed and what systems were in place to further equity among their employees. My question was met with appreciation, and the interviewer was forthcoming about the changes they’d implemented, adding insight into their own personal experience with the company’s new direction. Questions like these are crucial to your own understanding of how the company respects its employees and how they are advancing their efforts for diversity and inclusion.Advertisement
Career matching website Chegg urges interviewees to do research and be strategic about the questions they ask, advising “[d]on’t ask questions that anyone could answer with a quick glance at the company website.” Asking generic questions could have an adverse effect in an interview, displaying what could be construed as a lack of effort. Instead, ask about the specifics of the position. “What would an average workday for this position look like?” is a question that lets the interviewer know you are interested in the minutiae of the job, and it will give you a clearer picture of what the job will entail. Advertisement