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8 Important Questions You Should Ask In Every Job Interview

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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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

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Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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