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Asking the right questions

Questions, questions…

At some point in your interview, you’ll be asked if you have any questions. This isn’t your cue to ask about money (although we know it’s that one burning question that everybody wants to ask).    It is a great opportunity, by virtue of sensible questions, to leave a positive impression. We’ve never heard a client complain about a candidate being too interested in the role & company culture!

Instead, use this part of your interview to find out more and make a positive impression. Your questions should be tailored towards finding out more about the role you’re going for, the responsibilities, challenges, culture, and future potential of the role and company. Don’t ask questions that could be answered by reading the website, this shows a real lack of thought and insight.

Equally, passing up the opportunity to query anything may look as though you’re simply going through the motions and aren’t particularly interested in getting the job.

Not sure what to ask? These questions will help get you started:

How would you best describe your company’s culture and ethos?

All companies have their own way of doing things and not every corporate culture will suit you. The difference between the marketing department within a law firm is vastly different to the creative department of an ad agency.

What are your company’s plans for the future?

Gauging the potential for professional growth is important. Even if you aren’t aiming to head up the department within the first 12 months, you’ll still want to know that you’re joining a company that’s striving to develop, innovate and remain competitive.

What type of person succeeds in your company and what are their characteristics?

Gaining a good insight into your potential future colleagues is wise and it can be particularly useful to take note of those who’ve progressed through the ranks.

What do you enjoy most about working for this company?

This is real eye-opener and an awkward silence or long pause for thought is not what you want! There’s only one reaction you’re looking for and that’s a positive and honest one.

What are some of the vital skills and abilities required for somebody to succeed in this role?

This’ll give you a clear insight into the challenges associated with the position and what’s needed to perform well in the role. You’ll want to make sure you’ll be challenged and your skills enhanced.

What will be the most important aspect of my role within the first six months?

There isn’t much point moving to a like-for-like position. Most of all, you’ll want to be motivated and feel enthusiastic before joining your new employer, and, of course, you want to enjoy the challenges and environment your new role will create.

How do you envisage my role developing and evolving over the next 12 months?

A good answer to this should be specific because most employers will know the challenges ahead and where you’ll be expected to play your part.

Which team members will I work closely with and what’s their ethos like?

Remember that you’re going to spend the majority of your working hours at work, and your new job will only be as good as your relationship with your new colleagues and boss. It’s wise to meet and spend time with your potential new colleagues and take in the general buzz and atmosphere of the office.

How would you describe the atmosphere?

Even if you’re taking a highly-paid job, the immediate environment needs to be positive and one that helps and develops you. You may need to talk to mentors or advisors about this question, but, once the advice is in, weigh it up with your own observations – nobody knows what makes you tick better than you do.

Where does my role fit within the company structure?

You need to understand the relationship of your role or department within the company structure.  You’ll most likely want to find out who you’ll work closely with and how best you can develop those relationships.

It’s probably not wise to ask all of the above questions all in one go, and there may be others you may want to ask that aren’t on the list. Have three to five really solid questions up your sleeve and be clear with yourself about the answers you’re looking to hear in return.   Employers will simply judge you on the quality of questions you ask – the above list is a suggestion, not a script

An interview is a two-way street, and by asking relevant and interesting questions you will be able to gauge a healthy insight into the opportunity you are considering.  You will need to weigh up the salary, future earnings, prospects, and culture, as well as all those intangible things that can only be summed up as a “gut feeling”.

Good luck with asking your questions and if you need any more practical advice, feel free to contact us, we’d be more than happy for you to pick our brains further.

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