Friday, October 3, 2008

5 atypical questions YOU should ask at your interview

When you interview for a new job, do you ever consider if that company is a good fit for you? Or are you so caught up in just trying to find "something" that you'll settle for "anything"?
As I'm sitting at my desk and pondering over my last "very successful" review, I have to wonder: what do I expect from my job? what are MY goals and needs here? And are they being met? what is my breaking point? How much twisting and turning of the initial agreement am I willing to put up with?
Here are some questions to ask for YOUR next interview, that you should review every 3 months. Hey, if the company is doing a review of YOU, why shouldn't you also do a review of THEM?

  • Who will I be working with? Can I meet them before finalizing our agreement?
    Definitely not a trivial question. You spend minimum 50% of your awake time or 30% of your overall life working with a handful of people. Don't you think it's essential to see if you can work with them? Google that person. Google your boss, your coworkers. See what their presence is. What their interests are. What they write, how they write it. Get a feel of what it'd be like to work with them.

  • Do you have any team building/ personal enrichment programs?
    If you're hopping on another train, you want to make sure it actually takes you somewhere. If there is a great manager you can learn from, it's a plus. If the company has a form mentoring program, it's a plus. If the company has company outtings, that's a plus. If they have none... think about it. How will increase team building? And how will you grow in your position?

  • Do you have a copy of your HR policies?
    Ok this one may seem weird at first... until you realize that you may work 12h/day and get zero outcome. No raise. No time off. No promotion. You may end up looking at empty cubicles of coworkers who "work from home" but somehow don't answer their phones or their emails. So ask: what are the formal procedures of evaluation, and what are the rewards and punishments? Unless there is a formal system, it won't be applied. You're moving into the dangerous territory of political games, where someone can be part of the "boys' club" and pass the work off to you - a win-win for them, a lose-lose to you. So ask. Read. And think it over.

  • What is the typical path of someone in your position, if they do well?
    Aha. Didn't think about that one, huh? Ask frankly to get that direct answer: if you do well, and fulfill everything they expect out of you, then what can YOU expect? You're spending your life making that company a success. You need to know as early on as possible if they'll give back. If the people in your position end up quitting or getting fired before they get promoted, the company gets a red flag. Get out of there! If you are filling a new position, ask for an example of how high some other position has gotten - ask for a story of personal success from an employee that worked at that company. If the interviewer freezes... red flag!

  • What are some atypical benefits to working for your company?
    If you haven't opened a can of worms with the previous questions, this one may open your eyes to benefits you hadn't thought of. Maybe they offer free food? Discounts at local gyms? Internal contests and awards? Maybe they all shut down for 2 weeks at Christmas so you know you can count on going home at that period? You may be surprised at the array of benefits small and big companies have to offer their employees.


Questions? Comments? email me at carolineblogs at gmail dot com


Carla said...

Great questions! I have always been afraid to ask some of them, but it’s important to know what you’re getting into. I remember starting a job where I would only get a half hour lunch break. I had no idea until I took an hour the first week I started and got chewed out for it. Every other company, corporation, etc. large and small I worked for gave their employees an hour lunch. That was one of the deal breakers for me.

Caroline a.k.a Ou Mulan said...

Hi Carla,

This is a great insight! I'd love to collect these kinds of stories. There are really weird set ups in companies out there. And I'm hoping that our collective knowledge can help us, as individuals, make better decisions.
Thanks for commenting!