The meaning of the prefix “inter-” can be surmised by decoding some of the words in which it appears. “Interurban” means “between cities”; “interplanetary” means “between planets”; and “interaction” means “action between people.” In a job search context, we also have “interview,” which literally means “looking between people.”
It’s worth emphasizing this point to job-seekers because it’s easy to forget, in the high-stakes, high-stress context of a job interview, that the process is not a one-way street. An interview is absolutely about an employer determining if you’re the right person for the job and the company, but it’s also about you, the applicant, gauging whether this position and this employer are right for you. The onus is on you, just as much as the interviewer, to suss out whether the proposed work arrangement is likely to succeed.
While much of this decision will be based on your “feel” for the interviewer and the work environment, the more formal way to determine the strength of the fit is through questions. As a candidate, you fully expect to be bombarded with questions from the employer, but it’s in your best interests to come armed with questions of your own -- both to address any concerns you may have and to show off your initiative and enthusiasm for the position.
I’ve shared suggestions for candidate-initiated questions in past columns, but I wanted to revisit the topic today as I recently found a few new specimens online. While these examples may not be suitable for all interview situations, I feel they are richly effective questions that demonstrate thoughtfulness and insight into the recruitment process:
- Describe a typical day for a new employee in your organization. How is it different from a day as a seasoned employee? How long does the transition period usually take for new employees?
- What professional credentials are valued by this organization? Are there programs or supports in place to help new workers obtain these credentials? (Such questions give you an idea of the company’s attitude toward, and commitment to, employee training.)
- Can you describe a situation where a client or customer made an unreasonable demand? How was it handled? (This is a golden example of a “reverse-behavioural” interview question, giving you a sense of the company’s policies and values in practise rather than just in the abstract.)
- How many employees who started in this team two years ago are still here? What would you say they all have in common?
- What does success look like to workers in this organization? How will I know I have been successful in this job, a few months or a year down the road?
- How are my skills and experience different from the “perfect candidate” you have in mind?
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: “If we had no faults, we would not take so much pleasure in noting those of others.” (François de La Rochefoucauld, French author, 1613-1680)