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8 Important Questions You Should Ask In Every Job Interview

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8 Important Questions You Should Ask In Every Job Interview

Job interviews aren’t just about selling yourself and proving you’re the right person for the job, they’re also an important opportunity to get to know the company deeply and think very carefully whether the role suits you or not.

Asking smart questions at your interview gives you the information you need to assess if you agree with the company’s core values, what opportunities you’ll get for personal development, and whether the culture will allow you to perform at your best.

Here’s a list of the most important questions you should ask in every job interview.

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1. How do you see this position evolving in the next 3 years?

This interview question is a favourite of Jared Brown (co-founder of Hubstaff) because it politely and subtly shows the candidate is looking for a role where they can blossom long term. It’s an important question to ask since it can help you gauge whether or not the role will help you achieve your long term career objectives. For example, if you’re looking to move up to a more senior position, this question can help you identify whether the vacancy will see you take on new responsibilities, and broaden your appeal among other employers, or get promoted internally.

It can also help to identify whether the role may be unsuitable for your own goals. For example, if the interviewer cannot give you a clear answer, you might consider it as a dead-end job. Alternatively, the role may evolve in a different direction to your own career goals, such as leading you down a very specialized path that could actually make you less employable outside of that specific business or industry sector.

2. How will the work I’ll be doing contribute to the organization’s mission?

This is a great question recommended by Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likable Local. This is not a question meant to simply give you an ego boost, but it will help you understand whether you’ll be considered a vital part of the operation or not. The fact is if the role you’re applying for is not of significant importance to the oganization’s mission, the management may give you and your department less resources for completing projects, and smaller budgets for pay rises and bonuses. Worse still, it’s these non-essential departments that often are the first to see redundancies and cuts should there be a downturn in business. It could be simply because the business doesn’t see them as important to their survival.

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As a result, this question helps give you some clues as to whether or not you’ll be provided everything you need to be successful and contribute to the company’s growth, or if you’ll end up struggling for internal resources and receive less job security in a less important part of the business.

3. How would you define success in this position?

This is one of the most important questions you can ask, as the answer can give you “insider information” about the role that isn’t readily available elsewhere. When answering this question, the hiring manager will give you some clues as to how your career goals align with the role. For example, you’ll discover more about the specific skills that you’ll require, the true priorities of the role, the workplace culture, and (most significantly) an insider’s perspective of what it takes to secure the role.

This will help you piece together a benchmark for the standards the company will expect you to work towards, as well as an understanding of whether you have the right skills.

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4. What’s the company culture like?

Since you’ll be spending much of the day at work, it’s important to ensure you take a role at a business with a culture you’re comfortable with. A key reason to ask this question is to establish what the work-life balance is like in the role. For example, will you have the opportunity to work at home or get flexible hours, or will you need to stay in the office? Similarly, do workers typically work longer than their contracted hours, or do they often get asked to work weekends? This question is critical to ensure you’re comfortable with the demands of the role, ensuring you don’t get burnout or begin to resent going to work.

5. Do you offer continual training and professional development?

This is an important question to ask, as it will give you key information about how you’ll be able to progress your career. Good businesses invest in their staff, so you’ll want to be sure that you’ll receive training on new skills. This training will help you secure promotions, as well as open up new career prospects elsewhere. This is a great follow up to Question 1, as it helps dig a bit deeper about how the hiring managers see your role moving forwards, and whether you’ll be on a fast track to success or stuck in the same role for years.

6. Why has this position become available?

Finding out why the job is available is a subtle way of finding out about any challenges or opportunities the business may be facing. For example, the role may be brand new, suggesting the company is growing. It could be that the previous holder was promoted, indicating the role is a route towards promotion. Conversely, the vacancy may be as a result of someone leaving; or downsizing with two former roles turning into one. Therefore, this question can help show what development opportunities are available, as well as if the company isn’t doing too well.

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7. How does the role relate to the overall structure of the organisation?

This is a great question to find out who you’ll be working with on a day-to-day basis. It also shows you have a preference to teamwork and contributing to the success of the firm. The answer will help reveal who you’ll be reporting to and who will be reporting to you, or conversely whether you’ll be reporting to several people through matrix management. This is a great way to discover whether or not the role will suit your style of working. Look for an answer that matches your preference, like whether you’re more comfortable working in a team, or prefer to take full control over projects.

8. What concerns do you have about me for this position?

While quite direct, this is a good question to wrap up the interview with because it reveals right there and then any reasons why you may not get the job, giving you an opportunity to counter these. For example, the interviewer may suggest you lack the experience of other candidates, which you can counter by discussing your experience in more detail. Similarly, they may have misunderstood a point you had made earlier, allowing you to resolve this before it’s too late.

Featured photo credit: Alan Cleaver via farm5.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on August 25, 2021

Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

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Why Personal Branding Is Important to Your Career

As a recruiter, I have met and interviewed hundreds of candidates who have no idea who they are.

Without a personal brand, candidates struggle to answer the question: “tell me about yourself—who are you?” They have no idea about who they are, what their strengths are, and how they can add value to the company. They present their CV’s believing that their CV is the key to their career success. In some ways, your CV still has its use. However, in today’s job market, you need more than a CV to stand out in a crowd.

According to Celinne Da Costa:[1]

“Personal brand is essentially your golden ticket to networking with the right people, getting hired for a dream job, or building an influential business.” She believes that “a strong personal brand allows you to stand out in an oversaturated marketplace by exposing desired audiences to your vision, skillset, and personality in a way that is strategically aligned with your career goals.”

A personal brand opens up your world to so many more career opportunities that you would never have been exposed to with just your CV.

What Is Your Personal Brand?

“Personal branding is how you distinctively market your uniqueness.” —Bernard Kelvin Clive

Today, the job market is very competitive and tough. Having a great CV will only let you go so far because everyone has a CV, but no one else has your distinct personal brand! It is your personal brand that differentiates you from everyone else and that is what people buy—you.

Your personal brand is your mark on the world. It is how people you interact with and the world see you. It is your legacy—it is more important than a business brand because your personal brand lasts forever.

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I have coached people who have very successful careers, and they come to me because they have suddenly found that they are not getting the opportunities or having the conversations that would them to their next role. They are having what I call a “career meltdown,” all because they have no personal brand.

A personal brand helps you become conscious of your differences and your uniqueness. It allows you to position yourself in a way that makes you stand out from the pack, especially among other potential job applicants.

Don’t get me wrong, having a great CV and a great LinkedIn profile is important. However, there are a few steps that you have to take to have a CV and LinkedIn profile that is aligned to who you are, the value you offer to the market, and the personal guarantee that you deliver results.

Building your personal brand is about strategically, creatively, and professionally presenting what makes you, you. Knowing who you are and the value you bring to the table enables you to be more informed, agile, and adaptable to the changing dynamic world of work. This is how you can avoid having a series of career meltdowns.

Your Personal Brand Is Essential for Your Career Success

In her article, Why Personal Branding Is More Important Than Ever, Caroline Castrillon outlines key reasons why a personal brand is essential for career success.

According to Castrillon,[2]

“One reason is that it is more popular for recruiters to use social media during the interview process. According to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees.”

The first thing I do as a recruiter when I want to check out a candidate or coaching client is to look them up on LinkedIn or other social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Your digital footprint is the window that highlights to the world who you are. When you have no control over how you want to be seen, you are making a big mistake because you are leaving it up to someone else to make a judgment for you as to who you are.

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As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, once said, “Your brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room.”

In her book, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about the importance of having a personal brand and her journey to defining her personal brand. She wrote that:

“if you don’t get out there and define yourself, you’ll be quickly and inaccurately defined by others.”

When you have a personal brand, you are in control. You know exactly what people will say about you when you leave the room.

The magic of a personal brand is that gives you control over how you want to be seen in the world. Your confidence and self-belief enable you to leverage opportunities and make informed decisions about your career and your future. You no longer experience the frustrations of a career meltdown or being at a crossroads not knowing what to do next with your career or your life. With a personal brand, you have focus, clarity, and a strategy to move forward toward future success.

Creating your personal brand does not happen overnight. It takes a lot of work and self-reflection. You will be expected to step outside of your comfort zone not once, but many times.

The good news is that the more time you spend outside of your comfort zone, the more you will like being there. Being outside of your comfort zone is where you can test the viability of and fine-tune your personal brand.

5 Key Steps to Creating Your Personal Brand

These five steps will help you create a personal brand that will deliver you the results you desire with your career and in life.

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1. Set Your Personal Goals

What is it that you want to do in the next five years? What will your future self be doing in the next five to ten years? What is important to you? If you can answer these questions, then you are on the right path. If not, then you have to start thinking about them.

2. Create Your Unique Value Proposition

Create your unique value proposition by asking yourself these four questions:

  1. What are your personality features? What benefit do you offer people?
  2. Who are you and why do people enjoy working with you?
  3. What do you do and what do people want you to do for them? How do you solve their problems?
  4. What makes you different from others like you?

The answers to these questions will give you the information you need to create your professional story, which is the key step to creating your personal brand.

3. Write Your Professional Story

Knowing who you are, what you want, and the unique value you offer is essential to you creating your professional story. People remember stories. Your personal story incorporates your value proposition and tells people who you are and what makes you unique. This is what people will remember about you.

4. Determine Which Platforms Will Support Your Personal Brand

Decide which social media accounts and online platforms will best represent your brand and allow you to share your voice. In a professional capacity, having a LinkedIn profile and a CV that reflects your brand is key to your positioning in relation to role opportunities. People will be connecting with you because they will like the story you are telling.

5. Become Recognized for Sharing Your Knowledge and Expertise

A great way for you to promote yourself is by sharing knowledge and helping others. This is where you prove you know your stuff and you gain exposure for doing so. You can do this through social media, writing, commenting, video, joining professional groups, networking, etc. Find your own style and uniqueness and use it to attract clients, the opportunities, or the jobs you desire.

The importance of having a personal brand is not going to go away. In fact, it is the only way where you can stand out and be unique in a complex changing world of work. If you don’t have a personal brand, someone will do it for you. If you let this happen, you have no control and you may not like the story they create.

Standing out from others takes time and investment. Most people cannot make the change by themselves, and this is where engaging a personal brand coach is a viable option to consider.

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As a personal brand coach, working with my clients to create their personal brand is my passion. I love the fact that we can work together to create a personal story that defines exactly what people will say when you leave the room.

Other People’s Stories

Listening to other people’s stories is a great way to learn. In his article, 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding, Rafael Dos Santos presents the best Ted Talks where speakers share their stories about the “why,” “what,” and “how” of personal branding.((GuidedPR: 7 TED Talks About Personal Branding))

Take some time out to listen to these speakers sharing their stories and thoughts about personal branding. You will definitely learn so much about how you can start your journey of defining yourself and taking control of your professional and personal life.

Your personal brand, without a doubt, is your secret weapon to your career success. As Michelle Obama said,

“your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.”

So, go own your story. Go on the journey to create your personal brand that defines who you are, highlights your uniqueness, and the value you offer to the world.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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