Interviews are two-way streets

Posted by Patra Frame

Good candidates, preparing for an interview,  focus mainly on learning about the company and the people they will interview with.  Really good candidates also focus on what is important to them and how they will learn about those key issues during the interview. 

If you get to the interview stage, remember that it is as important for you to make a good decision as it is for the company to do so!  Too often we focus primarily on selling ourselves, on preparing good answers to standard questions, on getting our success stories polished up.  And, while all those are important, so too are the questions you ask.

What is important to you in your next opportunity?  Are you looking for a boss who will provide close supervision and plenty of feedback or one who will give you a task and let you alone to do it?  Do you want to work in an organization that offers a lot of training and developmental activities?  One that values rules and standard practices?  A fast-paced, growing, sometimes chaotic one?    Are you willing to sacrifice personal time so as to get a bigger paycheck?  Do you want to work on the most current technologies only? 

A part of any job search is to think about what is important to you in your next position.  But too many of us do not follow through to check whether what we think we know about the organization in such areas is really true for the specific job, boss, or function we are considering.  And, while it is important to research these issues during your search, it is even more important to ask questions about the most vital issues during an interview. 

For example: the company may have a great reputation for its training and development programs.  Does the person you would be working for?  If training is important to you, ask questions during the interviews of everyone but especially of the person you will work for.  You could ask:

  • Could you give me an example of the training or development plans you have made with other employees and how those worked out?
  • What training do you regularly provide for your staff?
  • What developmental activities did the person who had this job before me have and how did that work out?
  • What training or development plans would I be eligible for in the first six months?  How do those work?

You also want to ask questions about the job, the role as it relates to the larger organization, how performance is measured, what challenges are likely in the first 3 months, and similar issues.  These provide you with more information on whether this position is a good match for you – one where you can succeed.  They also tell the interviewer that you are a smart professional who has done her homework.

So, when you are preparing for an interview:

  • Think about the most important aspects of what you want in your next job
  • Develop a set of questions you can ask to help you assess each aspect
  • Develop questions that tell you more about the work and the opportunity and the boss
  • Take your list and be sure you ask these questions during each interview
  • Take notes on answers
  • Use the information you get to help assess the opportunity!

Remember, interviewing is a two-way street.  Each side has something of value to offer.  Each side needs information from the other.  Each side wants to make a good decision that ensures success.   


This entry was posted on Thursday, April 01, 2010 6:36 pm

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