Job interviews should be a two-way street in which both parties — the candidate and the employer — have the same goal: to figure out whether there’s a fit.
The best way to do this as the interviewee is to ask questions. The right questions.
Career experts Katharine S. Brooks and Lynn Taylor say that what you ask may vary depending on the industry, company, or job you’re applying for, but they agree on one question all job candidates should always ask, no matter what:
Who succeeds in this position?
Another way to phrase it: How would you define success for this position?
“This question gives you ‘insider information’ about the position and the interviewer’s perspective on the organisation,” says Brooks, the executive director of the Office of Personal and Career Development at Wake Forest University. “This is the type of information you can’t find easily on the internet.”
Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job,” says that as the hiring manager answers this question, he or she will probably provide insight as to exactly how your career goals align with the company’s priorities.
“Their response will likely elicit such invaluable input as specific skills they seek (you’ll pick up a lot more nuances than what’s included in a written job listing); the real priorities for the job (you’ll know this because of emphasis and time spent on each); an inside perspective of what it takes to secure the position (they’re in effect telling you specifically how to sell yourself according to their needs); and their culture, work ethic expectations, and style,” she says.
It’s important to remember that you’ll be spending most of your waking hours at work, so you want to help ensure that the position will be challenging, motivational, and rewarding. “Each of your questions should elicit as much information as possible, not just about the work itself, but about your prospective boss’ work style and the culture,” Taylor says. “Having chemistry with your potential manager and others with whom you’ll work can often trump the work itself. And there are ways to ascertain that before you commit.”
This question in particular will equip you with a benchmark against which to work, she adds. “If you accept the position, you’ll always know whether you’re following the mission.”
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