Most of us exit interviews with a bevy of questions running through our minds. Are they really interested in hiring me? What are my chances? Will I be a good fit? The problem is this: If we fail to probe the topics critical to our future happiness (and success), we are already on shaky career ground. Ultimately, there is much more to evaluate about a potential role than title, salary or location. To make an informed decision you must attempt to look beneath the surface.
Here is a set of questions to ask yourself and keep in mind during the course of an interview. The answers will help you gauge if there is a real match between you and the job in question:
1. Does the role align with my strengths? Be brutally honest with yourself. The question is not, "Does an opportunity exist?" The question should be, "Is this the right opportunity for you?" Many very capable and highly employable individuals take (and stick) with a role that doesn't speak to their strengths. This often leads to frustration, disengagement and eventually, a painful career lesson.
2. How will I be spending my day? Try to obtain a relatively clear picture of your future work life – in this job – at this specific organization. Be sure to explore key work-life components such co-workers, teaming, how you will be supervised, representative assignments, work from home options and travel. Bottom line: More information equals a better decision.
3. Does the role have a future? Room for a measure of career growth is an integral component of any job. Where will this role lead you career-wise? Will there be opportunities for stretch assignments, creativity or significant challenge? Be alert: Boredom can negatively affect a career.
4. Am I like the other individuals that have succeeded? I'm not sure we would say that an organization has a specific "type" or "profile" of employee who excels. However, every organization (and its employees) reflect a certain culture or "zeitgeist," which must match you and your orientation toward work. Would you feel comfortable working there? Explore any doubts.
5. What challenges is the organization facing? Let's face it – context is everything when you consider joining an organization. Organizations go through growth cycles, and periods of stagnation or challenge. There are certainly both good and bad chapters. Is it the right time for you to be there? Only you can decide.
6. What metrics will be utilized to measure my performance? At some point in time your performance will be evaluated. Discerning the components of performance that are important to an organization is vital. Valued metrics can reveal a lot about an organization. What are they really looking for? Ask.
7. Where do I stand? Many candidates reflect that one of the most stressful things about interviewing is the ambiguity that comes along with the territory. This occurs because we often leave an interview with little (or no) information concerning our chances of landing the job. Ultimately, it is up to us to broach the topic and inquire. One sure way to gather some information is to ask the following: I would love to work at your organization. Do you feel there is a fit? If the response is vague – rather than filled with specifics about match and the timing of next steps – your future with the organization may not be a go.
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist who specializes in workplace success strategies and organizational change. She helps individuals, teams and organizations develop intelligently—to meet work life challenges with a sense of confidence and empowerment.