Thursday, February 2, 2017

9 Unusual Yet Effective Questions To Ask a Potential Employer at an Interview

9 Unusual Yet Effective Questions To Ask a Potential Employer at an Interview

If you think job interviews are simply a forum for prospective employers to put you to the test, think again. They’re all that and then some. Ask these smart questions in your next interview to delve “behind the scenes," as well as impressing the socks off your interviewer.


1. What are the things you like most about working at this company?

In a perfect world, the interviewer will proceed to share with you all the amazing and wonderful perks he or she receives and just can’t live without. But, if this isn’t quite the case, listen carefully. The things your interviewer nominates as being the absolute best things about working at this workplace need to align with your personal preferences and values. That is, make sure they’re also the types of benefits that appeal to you and will contribute to your future happiness in the workplace.


2. What’s one piece of advice you would offer if I’m successfully hired to join this company?

Hopefully the answer won’t be along the lines of “brace yourself”!

Ideally, you’ll be joining a well-structured company with a professional on-boarding program in place as well as one that will be appropriately ready for commencement on your first day. If the advice given sounds like you’ll need to fly by the seat of your pants, consider if that approach suits you (or not)!


3. In what ways has your career developed at this workplace?

If the interviewer stares blankly at you, you’re in trouble!

Ideally they’ll easily elaborate on the many ways in which their career has progressed by working for this employer. Keep your ears peeled for examples of positive advancement such as receipt of promotions and plenty of opportunities to participate in education and up-skilling.

You want to make sure there's opportunity for growth and expansion of your career at this company. See how serious the employer is about providing professional educational opportunities such as training, mentorship and career development.


4. What type of people are successful here? What type of people are not?

Listen out for traits such as honesty and a genuine sharing of information about what success looks like at this company. Does their “success framework” sound like something you can achieve?

Finding an employer that values the types of characteristics you bring to your work is essential in achieving success in a future role, and will also encourage you to commit for the long term. After-all, you might as well do your best to assess a compatible fit because the longer you’re able to stay with your next employer, the fewer job interviews you’ll ever need to attend!


5. When it comes to performance reviews, If I’m successfully hired, how can I earn a “gold star” at my first review?

Earning gold stars wasn’t necessarily the coolest thing in high school. But times have changed and performing beyond expectations in adult life will likely bring beneficial returns on your physical and intellectual investment in the workplace.

Learning how to be successful at any new company takes time because the things that are highly valued at one company may not be as valued at the next. Listen carefully to the interviewer’s response, so you can hear about the skills and experience they value most, as well as the performance they expect on the job. Apply your own reasonableness check to assess if what they’ve listed as success factors, feel achievable for you.


6. What new skills can I hope to learn here?

Asking this question demonstrates your keenness to consider a future with this employer while also balancing the needs of your own career progression. It’s a humble way to share the fact you recognize you still have much to learn. Believe you me, this candid question will appeal because not all candidates are willing to admit they don’t already know everything!


7. How has this position evolved over time?

Insight gained by asking this question should help you decide if this position is going places or if it’s already reached its heyday. It’s highly likely that you want to work for a dynamic employer, with exceptional managers, in a role with a long lifespan so use the information provided by your interviewer to make an assessment about the life-cycle of the role.


8. If you could change something about the way work is done at this company, what would it be?

Seek to gain insight about the way work is done and the expectations about efficiency and effectiveness in the workplace. Hopefully the employer will struggle to answer this question and understandably no workplace is perfect. On the flip side, your alarm bells should ring at full volume if he or she rattles off a long list of suggested improvements.


9. How is this company better than its competitors?

This question is interesting, because unless the company is the number one player in its industry, there will always be competitors who are more successful. Identifying the reasons that make this company uniquely successful is key to assessing how well you might fit their culture and work environment.

For example, what if they smash competition out of the ball park by providing budget priced solutions? If you personally value working for a prestigious employer who charges beyond the reasonable norm (think Rolex), now’s the time to decide if this workplace truly is the right one for you.

Asking two or three of these questions at your next interview will enable you to identify if it’s time to jump ship, before it’s too late! Accepting a new position is a tremendous investment and the decision about which employer will suit you best shouldn’t be taken lightly.

There’s so much choice available today when it comes to the various types of workplace culture, flexibility practices and expectations of performance on the job. Choose the company that not only encourages you to ask these types of questions in an employment interview, but one that embraces a dynamic approach to day-to-day work and supports the pursuit of your professional ambitions.


Joe Flanagan is the Senior Consultant at Velvet Jobs, a job search facility that helps candidates and employers find their perfect job and employee. His expertise span over 11 years and include recruitment, HR and career advice.