For most people, there is a standard checklist when preparing for an interview. It goes something like this:
- Update resume, and research job hunting tips for your industry.
- Update profiles in LinkedIn, and make sure there is no inappropriate content on Twitter or Facebook.
- Search for jobs in your industry (in our industry, places like PRSA in Oklahoma City or Tulsa).
- Write terrific cover letter that is customized for the position.
- Wait for an interview.
- Practice answering the tough questions.
- Interview for the position.
- Follow up with a handwritten thank you note.
From the perspective of someone who interviews candidates frequently, there is a major item on the checklist that is often overlooked: preparing questions that you, the candidate, should ask the employer during an interview.
If you accept a position with a company, and you know you will be spending the majority of your time every day at that company, don’t you want to make sure it is a good fit for you? Most people are so concerned with getting the job, they don’t stop to ask questions that will ultimately determine their future happiness.
Why are you looking for a new job in the first place? If it is because you are unhappy at your current job, you need to assess why that is the case. Do you feel like there isn’t opportunity for advancement, is your supervisor a micromanager, do you have to travel more than you would like? If so, shouldn’t you be interviewing your potential employer to make sure they fit your needs?
When people neglect to ask me questions during an interview, I assume it is because they are just looking for a job so they can pay the bills, and that they are not interested in finding out if our firm would be the perfect fit for them.
I recommend that candidates research everything they can on a company prior to interviewing them (you should not ask a question that is easily answered by reading their website) and come with a list of specific questions.
Here is a list of general questions that could be used in most cases:
- What is your management style (or management style of the would-be supervisor)?
- Will this position allow for me to take initiative or will most of my projects be assigned to me?
- How would you describe the culture of the company or culture of the department?
- What qualities do you believe are the most important for a person in this position to have?
- Would I be involved in the budgeting process (if applicable)?
- Do you encourage teamwork and will the person filling this position work more with teams or on their own?
Demonstrating an interest (outside of the paycheck) in the job you are interviewing for will show the employer that you have initiative and that you are genuinely invested in ensuring this is a position you would like to hold for the long-term.