You may have heard this one before; however, if you’re in the middle of a career transition then it bears repeating: Interviewing is a two-way street.
Many job seekers lose sight of the fact that their next jobs will have a big impact not only on their career, but also on their life in general. Satisfaction with your work, your workplace, and especially your manager can go a long way in creating a positive and balanced life. Think back to a time when you worked for a manager with whom you did not get along or worked for an organization not aligned with your values or goals. What was that like?
You can avoid finding yourself in that situation again by treating the interview process as a two-way street. Just as the manager is interviewing you to see if you are a good fit for the company, so you must also interview the manager to make sure the position, the company and your potential co-workers are a good fit for you. Take your focus off of finding any job and put it on finding the right job: one in which you can thrive because it is aligned with your long-term goals.
Make sure you come to the interview prepared with questions that will provide insight into whether or not this is a company and a culture with which you would like to work from day to day.
Ask about the company’s culture. This question can give you a lot of insight into whether or not you’ll be happy at a company. You may enjoy doing the work, but if you aren’t a match with the culture, then you ultimately won’t be happy. Be specific in your questions; if you need clarity, ask another question. You don’t want to come across as an interrogator; however, you should make sure that you are satisfied that you have a clear picture of the culture. It’s that important.
Ask about what a typical day looks like. You don’t need a blow-by-blow of a typical day, but you should make sure you have an idea of what the daily expectations are from someone in the position for which you’re interviewing. This is a great way to make sure that the job description and the actual daily responsibilities are aligned with your career goals.
Ask about contributions you’ll be able to make. If you are someone who takes satisfaction from feeling like you have made a contribution, then it will be very important to ask how you will able to play a significant part in your department or your company’s overall success. If the answer you get leaves you with the impression that you won’t be doing much more than moving a product or deliverable down the line, then you may not be happy in that position, no matter how much you are paid.
Ask why the interviewer likes working there. Asking this question might feel like you’re getting too personal, but there is no one who can offer a better perspective on why this might be the right company to work for than someone who is working there. You don’t want to ask if the interviewer likes working there. That’s a yes or no question — and what answer do you think you are going to get? Ask them why they like it. And, again, ask follow-up questions if needed.