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Why You Should Ask These Questions During Job Interviews?

Why You Should Ask These Questions During Job Interviews?

TED talk presenter Meg Jay illustrated beautifully, in her captivating speech that went vial last week, the danger of dismissing an entire decade of your 20’s. If I may piggyback, understanding important tactics of an interviewee fresh out of college (or high school) is beneficial to fighting this. Among many things, it makes you appear more professional, qualified, wise, and able to do any job with integrity, poise, and talent. The questions you ask can easily make or break a crucial career opportunity.

We don’t want you to squander that, and you don’t either.

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What would better equip you than a mental database of stellar questions to ask interviewers? Here we’ll cover 10 important questions, in sequential order of how you should ask them, with vivid descriptions behind the psychology of each. As a bonus, I’ll include a short list of questions at the very end that you should avoid like Liberian Ebola when in the interviewee chair.

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Pre-interview question to ask yourself: How much do I know about this company?

  • A quick Google search you can pretty much find anything you want to know about a company. Nothing screams unprepared amateur like waltzing into an interview and asking basic questions like, “What does your company do?” How enthusiastic, motivated, and intelligent will you appear when you drop knowledge about when the company was founded, it’s cornerstone ethics, and some notable successes of the past?

1. How is the culture of this workplace? What will my roles and expectations be?

  • Expressing interest in knowing what’s expected of you before you get the position shows that you’re serious. It’s a display of your desire to fully understand your obligations before the first day of training. In one word: ambition.

2. Do you enjoy working here? Can you name a time when you felt extra proud to be a part of this company?

  • Chances are high that if they’re in a role that involves interviewing people, both of these questions will be a resounding ‘yes.’ Everyone enjoys talking about themselves, too. If you give them permission to take the floor, you’ll not only learn valuable lessons from someone who may very well be your boss if you land the job. It’ll also relieve a lot of the tension interviewing environments evoke.

3. How does my position contribute to the goals of the company?

  • A bit like #1, but different enough to note. Understanding the layout and structure of the company, as well as your personal involvement, breeds a team-first attitude. This will rub potential bosses and interviewers the right way by persuading them that you’re someone who can take direction, but knows their role and can lead when necessary.

4. What does your company consider a “success?” -or- What does your company consider “excelling?”

  • No matter what job, success is what we all strive for. Knowing what that means to a given company is crucial to your daily workflow, development, and progress. This will speak well to a potential employer considering their performance is often based on how well or poorly their underlings perform.

5. Can you describe for me the ideal candidate for this role?

  • This is to provide you with a “bar” per say. It gives you something to strive towards, shoot for, and a set criteria of what it takes to be accomplished in the job. Also, if you’re asking this it tells the interviewer that you wish to know the golden standard of workmanship that needs to be upheld day in and day out.

6. Does anything on my resume concern you? Do you have questions about anything you see?

  • This is a bit testy because it puts them on the spot, but not in an abrasive, awkward, or strange way. Instead, it will encourage them to ask questions about you personally, which would be a good chance to point out special things on your resume that shine like amateur curling and Easy-Bake-Oven-Offs. Furthermore, this is a good chance to let your personality show, as the other 9 questions are quite professionally oriented.

7. Who will I report to? May I meet them before I start, please?

  • The second part of this question is assuming you have the job locked down, but in my experience I’m not often reporting to the person who interviewed me so this is good to ask. Use this opportunity to get to know more about the people in your office. For your own sake, don’t be a suck up.

8. Can you describe for me the typical day or week in this company?

  • This is as more for your benefit, but it reiterates your aspiration. It’s definitely nice to know what to expect, too.

9. Are there any other important people you recommend I reach out to?

  • Assuming that you don’t have the job yet, this will show your interviewer that you have enthusiasm for the position and want to expand your further reach into the company. It’s also a valuable habit that will make networking a breeze. You’ll be surprised what happens when you ask.

10. I love challenges. Can you provide me with an example of a difficult challenge you’ve overcome in your current role?

  • I put this one last, and encourage you to use it last, for a few reasons. First, it shows that you have a solid backbone and good resolve that you won’t shy away from difficult situations. Second, I have yet to meet one boss who turned down a challenge taker (Warning: I’m not recommending you force this if you despise challenges, but the job world, your dreams, and nearly everything else in your life will be full of them. No sense in running from them.) Third, it gives them the podium once more to speak their piece and share their wisdom. I can’t tell you enough how much people like talking about themselves.

As promised, here are your never mentions:

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  • Does the company require drug or alcohol tests?
  • Will you perform a background check?
  • When will I get paid and how much?
  • How much vacation and sick time will I get?
  • Does the company track my internet and email activity?

These may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised. Arm yourself with the proper mental artillery to nail the interview, seal the opportunity, and begin a fresh chapter in your newly developing career.

Featured photo credit: Businessman / bowie15 via 123rf.com

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Last Updated on December 5, 2018

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

How do they do it?

By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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3. Demand Learning from Your Team

CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

“The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

“We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

  • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
  • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
  • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
  • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
  • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
  • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

  • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
  • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
  • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
  • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
  • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

    “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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  • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
  • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
  • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
  • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

10. Empower Your Employees

Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

11. Nurture Your Company Culture

Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

Be a Leader, Not a Boss

Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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