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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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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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