When preparing for an interview, many of my clients initially focus all their energy on preparing their answers for the typical interview questions: “Tell me about yourself?”, “What are your strengths (or weaknesses)” and the money question, “Why should we hire you?”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s critical that you have great responses to these, and a host of other questions. But equally important is making the interview work for you. Below are 5 critical interview tips to help you understand if the job is the right job for you.
1. Making sure that the company is a good fit for you, your skills, interests and values, is incredibly important. You are about to commit a sizeable portion of your life to your future employer, at least for the next few years so fit is critical.You’ll want to have at least one or two questions focusing on the company’s culture and values. As interviews often go two or three rounds, you’ll have a chance to meet a number of different people in the company. I always advise my clients to pick one question about the company culture and to ask everyone they meet the same question. The answers are often quite revealing. If the responses are consistent, the company most likely has clearly articulated values and consistent leadership. If you get a variety of responses, it can signal a lack of alignment or a company that’s experiencing some turbulence.
2. The person interviewing you could be your next manager. They likely will have a more direct impact on your happiness than any other person in your life. Seriously. People don’t leave companies, they leave managers and a bad manager can make your entire life miserable. Trust me, been there, done that and I don’t recommend it. Use your time with the hiring manager to ask about their management style, what drives them, and how they like to communicate. You’ll get a much clearer picture of what it might be like to work for this person, someone you’ll spend as much, if not more, time with than your roommates, your BFF, or your girlfriend or boyfriend.
3. Asking questions signals the interviewer that you’ve done your homework about the company, are engaged, and are inquisitive. Not having any questions for the interviewer is interview suicide. If you’re hard pressed to come up with great questions, here are a few tips.
4. The best interviewers will explain the interview process before the interview starts and let you know that they will leave time at the end of the interview for you to ask questions. Be wary of interviewers who don’t let you ask questions but spend most of their time selling the company to you. It’s possible that this can happen during the first interview. If it does, and you are invited back for a second interview, make sure that you get the opportunity to ask questions. If the company never provides time for you to ask questions, think long and hard about working there. You might consider asking why the position is vacant and how long it has been vacant. You can also check out websites like Glassdoor to get information on the company from insiders.
5. Lastly, whatever you do, don’t ask the wrong questions. Asking about salary, vacation time, office perks, working hours before you get the offer pretty much will guarantee that you won’t get an offer. These questions signal the interviewer that you are more interested in what’s in it for you versus the company. Always remember companies hire to fill a need that they have. Your job is to demonstrate that you have the skills, talent and drive to make a difference.
Interviewing is a skill that is honed by preparation and rehearsing. Remember to practice both answering, and asking, the key questions as it will help you determine whether this job is the right job for you.