We all eventually reach a point where we'd like to consider moving on from our current employer. We start looking around, applying for jobs and success...you've been invited to interview! But what do you ask during the interview???
This is a common question that comes up when the Freight Appointments team are arranging interviews for candidates of all levels, from entry level operations through to senior management candidates. It's less common for the more senior candidates as they've generally interviewed numerous candidates for positions with their team in time gone by, but it still comes up.
So we've decided that the first in our series of hints, tips and advice to potential job seekers will be focused on the questions you should ask if and when you come to interview.
Having interviewed hundreds if not thousands of people in their time, many of my clients generally have a formula that they will adhere to. They know what sort of questions they'll ask and what direction they want the interview to take. At the same time, there are also common traits that they may look for in the people they're meeting.
What you have to remember is that a vacancy is usually available because the company has a need or a problem. You have to position yourself as the best solution to that problem - and the mere fact that you have got to this stage means you are in their top bracket of candidates. So as much as the interviewer will ask you questions, you need to do the same. The company/hiring manager needs to sell themselves every bit as much as you do.
If you get to the end of an interview and almost all the questions have been asked by the person on the other side of the table, then quite frankly it is highly unlikely you will get the job. Not only does it make you seem as though you're not confident, but it also gives the impression that you’re not actually that committed to getting the job. If you really want to work for somebody, then it makes sense to find out as much about them as possible – in particular things
which you can’t glean from a job advert or the company website.
Here are some questions you should be asking during every single interview.
What are the short, medium and long-term goals of this team/branch?
This is one which always impresses interviewers because it shows the candidate is interested in the vision of the business. Companies don’t hire people who are merely looking for a job – they hire people who want to work for them and share their vision. Ask the interviewer where they see the business heading over the next year, and in particular, what their specific goals are for you and your department. As well as making a great impression on the company, it gives you an idea of what sort of expectations will be placed upon you.
What’s the culture like?
A job is not just a series of tasks, it is also the place where you will be spending a substantial amount of your time. Therefore you need to ask the interviewer what the company culture is like,because it should match up with what you want. For example, are you somebody who enjoys a high level of interaction with colleagues, or do you prefer autonomy? What managerial style do you work best under? Asking about the culture shows that you have high attention to detail – and that’s something which goes down extremely well with any hiring manager.
What are the opportunities for progression?
You will probably be asked questions like: ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time’. You then need to follow up on this and see if the company offers you the chance of progression. Remember -this doesn’t mean they need to offer you exactly what you want in 5 years. If you said you want to end up in a Directorship role, don’t expect the interviewer to say that’s exactly what they can offer you! But what they should provide is a rewarding environment where you have the opportunity to expand your skill set and climb up the ladder. A good company will not be put off by your ambition; in fact they will admire and encourage it. If they don’t…Is this the type of company you want to join?
How will I be measured?
Every job has its Key Performance Indicators, and although you may not get all of them in huge detail at the interview stage, you should at least have a broad idea. It very much depends on what the role is of course – the measurements for someone in a sales role will be different to someone in an operations or finance role for example. But you should walk out of that room knowing what you have to do to hit your targets and add value to the business. If you don’t, there may be a surprise in store soon after getting started…
And a big one… Do you have any concerns or reservations about me?
This allows you to object and overcome immediately. If they tell you that they’re ideally looking for someone with a little more experience, tell them that you’re a better option because they can teach you their way rather than coming with your own ideas. If they’re concerned that you don’t have a particular certification, tell them that you’d happily set about gaining that qualification right away. If you don’t ask about their concerns, there’s a strong chance that they’ll think too much into them and decide on someone else.
So, there we have it. A few questions that really will allow you to learn more about a position and make you stand out from the crowd.