What You Need to Learn in an Interview

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 it’s 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.

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 leave 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 to get a bigger paycheck?
  • Do you only want to work on the most current technologies?

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’s important to research these issues during your search, it’s 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 have that same reputation and budget to pull it off? 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 questions 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.

Patra FramePatra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 19, 2016 9:30 am

2 thoughts on “What You Need to Learn in an Interview”

  1. During an interview I am asked alot about my resume. From last job to former to planning skills. I have trained my self to say alittle then I will pause and ask would you like to know more. They always say yes. But I am never selected. It has to be my age getting in the way.

  2. Gloria, If you are over 35 it may be your age or your compensation or other concerns. It is great that you are getting the interviews. Are you sure you are interviewing well? Many people don’t, so do look at the interviewing articles here on CJN’s blog and elsewhere. If you think it is age discrimination, then you really need to be getting employee referrals into your target companies. Those help anyone but are especially useful when you need the hiring manager to understand your value. Work your network for help in that area. Take a look at this video for more ideas –

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