…If you’re the candidate for a position.
Most people who after applying for a job are called for an interview go over the possible questions that may be asked and prepare well-informed answers: yes the ones that will show you are up to speed and the right person for the job.
You’re not wasting your time. It is fundamental that you be prepared to show that you’re capable of meeting and surpassing the recruiter’s expectations, besides finding out if the company meets yours. Take advantage of the interview to interview the company! We don’t mean the questions directly linked to the position – as the company is sure to give you this information. Are they what you expect? Are they going to strengthen your professional development? Are you going to fit in with their business culture?
An acquaintance left the company he was working for because financial problems were looming. He went to work at another company that went bankrupt the month he started. His mistake was not asking (and maybe the employer’s bad faith in not putting his cards on the table regarding the real situation the company was in). Our advice is: ask and analyse. In a selection process, you choose too!
What you should ask the recruiter at a job interview
1. Why is this position vacant? If it’s new, you’re in luck: the company is sure to have plans for the future; it’s growing or intends to expand. If they tell you that the employee who used to have your future role will now be your boss, look at the good side: employees really do get promoted in this company. The bad side? If you find the garden has not been well cared for, you can’t blame the old gardener… If they tell you that the person who had this role was dismissed or left voluntarily, it’s neither good nor bad: he or she may not have fit into the philosophy of the company, may have been a toxic worker or may have wanted new professional challenges. Yes, there is the chance that you are applying for an entrance into a hellish situation, so if you’ve got any doubts just keep asking…
2. What doesn’t let them sleep at night? Find out which competitor is their worst nightmare and discover their Achilles’ heel and their fears, which may become the cause of yours. Put them into context and act in consequence.
3. What strategic plans have they targeted for the next year? Is it an ambitious company? If they share their business plan with you in broad terms, you’ll see if they are ready to face up to the market or if they’re thinking of throwing in the towel. Bet on a fighting or winning team!
4. How long has he or she been working for this company? Ask your interviewer how long he or she has been connected to the company. Depending on their answer, be very careful about any information they give you as they may have started so recently that the only advantage they have over you is that they know the names of the rest of the team. You should also ask the average length of time employees have been with the company. If it’s a long time, congratulations: you’re sure to be entering a company that supports promotion and professional development. That’s important if you have a profile like the Googlers (Google employees).
According to a PayScale survey, the average Google worker – in spite of having lots of services like free food, spaces for creativity, relaxation or the option of spending 20% of their work-day on personal projects – usually only last about a year. The reason? He is a young, intelligent and restless worker who leaves as soon as he gets bored. In fact, there is an expression out there (quoted by ex-employees) that Google is like Neverland (described in Peter Pan) because nobody grows there…
5. About working hours, dress-codes and holidays. They’re questions that directly affect your personal life and even the way you are. There are companies who relate strict timekeeping with productivity and good organisation. Others promote flexi-time subject to meeting targets. In regards to dress-code and not using extreme scenarios, some companies require a uniform to be worn, others require you to dress formally, there are also those who allow freedom of choice in this area, and there will always be one who’s not quite sure – with the famous Casual Friday: a license to leave the tie and suit at home at least for one day.
As for holidays, you’ll find companies with immobile or strict holiday periods (which you may find difficult to work around your family life) and others where you can choose your days off like a self-service to suit you and your personal needs. There’s no better or worse scenario – just the one that fits in best with your interests.
Selection processes are an adventure and we like keeping you informed in order to help you enjoy them and not see them as a bad time. If you want to read more articles on job interviews or selection processes, click here.