Do You Really Want to Work There?
Get Your Questions Answered When Interviewing for a Job
By Anna Mathieu, Marketing Communications Manager, Redfish Technology
The interview process is the usually final step in a company’s selection and vetting process, contingent upon reference and background checks of course.
For candidates this is also the last step typically in the application process. And certainly it is the best opportunity to learn as much as possible about the work environment and company culture, the personalities on the team and the management style, the less tangible aspects that aren’t written on the job description or the company website.
Recruiters often ask candidates along the application process to gauge their interest in a specific opportunity. This is something the candidate should be doing throughout the process.
While employment relationships are becoming more fluid, flexible, and often fleeting, the ideal situation is that the match is a great one and the return on investment is solid for both employer and employee.
So candidates, once you arrive at the interview, make sure you vet the opportunity as well. Have a list of questions and use your eyes and ears to get a sense of what it would be like to work there. The order of these will vary on the circumstances and interview style…
Get there a bit early and take a look around. How is the feng shui of the place? Does it feel good and meet your expectations? Is it hip and cool or modern and ultra-professional – now which are you? How was the commute and parking? Are there lunch spots around that you would want to frequent or can you run home for lunch or errands? Barting into downtown or the Mission District beats a driving an hour in traffic to a concrete jungle off the highway. If it isn’t offered, ask about a tour. Get a sense the place beyond the entry way and the interviewer’s office or the conference room.
How are you greeted and treated? Were you made to feel like you had been expected, or did you have to state your name three times to several people who flipped through agendas and made calls to get an okay just to let you in the door? How are other people treating each other? Are people saying hello as they pass, are they on a first-name basis? Is there a certain coldness or sense of tension in the air? You will be spending a majority of your waking hours with these folks, hopefully you all will enjoy relating to each other.
Getting to Know You
Ask your interviewer how long they have been at the company. You might ask what brought them to the company from their last role (which you hopefully remember from the research you did on this person beforehand). People generally like to talk about themselves, and this will provide insight into the person and the company. If the answer is brief, follow up with inquires about the team – how long have most folks been there and where did they come from. Play it by ear, but this may springboard into a very informative get-to-know each other.
More about Fit
How long has the position been open? Are there any internal candidates? What skills or fit was missing from previous candidates? These questions can provide important information. Is the manager planning to hire someone from within the organization, but is going through the motions of talking to a few external candidates? Does the manager have realistic expectations or is he/she searching for a purple squirrel with unicorn horn? Is there no one internally who wants the job and in fact they all have their resumes on Dice.com?
Just as the company wants to determine whether you have the right soft and hard skills, you need to get insight into working for this company and the personalities there. Ask the interviewer to describe a typical day at work. Ask what his/her biggest challenge is in the current role, or what the team’s biggest challenge is? Ask how the interviewer would describe his/her management style. Be candid by letting them know that you would like to get a feeling for what it would be like to work there.
Turn the tables a bit and interview your interviewer, what does he/she view as the most difficult parts of the job? The answer should shed light on the job expectations beyond the written description. Ask why people in the past have failed to succeed or stay at this job. The answer may reveal great opportunities or dire warning signs. Assuming you still want the job by the end of the interview, this information should allow you to tailor your close with a wrap up in which you can highlight the strengths that you can bring to the challenging aspects of the job.
Ask the interviewer if based on your interview and what he/she knows about you, does the interviewer have any concerns about your ability to do the job or fit into the team. If there are any, have a frank discussion about specifics and address them on the spot. If the interviewer says no, then ask if he/she will recommend hiring you. If the answer is vague or negative, think about way that may be and how to address that either immediately or in subsequent interviews, in a follow up, or via recommendations. If yes, well thank them and discuss next steps.
This may not work for everyone, but if it works for you… If you are told you are the chosen one, ask why. What made you stand out from the other applicants? If you’re the only one with a heartbeat who has applied, run! If your amazing talent has been understood, this may be helpful when the salary and benefits package gets discussed.
So some of these may or may not work for any particular combination of people or interview occasions, but keep in mind that it is your responsibility as a candidate to be evaluating the opportunity just as the company is evaluating you. The costs and time involved in hiring are big, onboarding and training too represent a significant investment. Ideally no one goes down a path that won’t be successful for all parties.
Your evaluation during the hiring process should lead you to a clear conclusion. If you determine that this is the company you want to be with and this is a role that you want and will succeed at, you should be much better prepared to sell yourself and close the hiring manager on you as the next hire.
If you determine that this is not the right opportunity for you, this is the time to bow out gracefully and preserve the relationships that you have now started. You never know when this experience may lead to a new opportunity via referral or collegial relationship. Do not waste people’s time soliciting an offer that you have no intention of accepting, it can do harm to your reputation and relationships, and preclude other opportunities.
About the Author:
Anna Mathieu, Marketing Communications Manager, brings together in-the-trenches recruiting experience as well as years of marketing and sales success in a variety of industries from software to real estate development. She thrives on evangelizing the Redfish brand and communicating Redfish’s expert recruiting services, to drive bottom line results.
About Redfish Technology:
Founded in Silicon Valley in 1996, Redfish Technology has been a leading provider of high tech professional and executive talent. Partnering with growth mode companies, small and large, Redfish staffs executive functions and builds out the teams below. The company provides services nationwide and has offices in Silicon Valley, the East Coast, and Sun Valley.