For students who have just graduated, many, if not all of you, will have to deal with job interviews in your near future. If you find job interviews intimidating, remember that your prospective employers are often just as fearful as you are. They need to know that their potential employees will be valuable additions to the company, and they worry that the best candidates will not want to work there.
For this reason, a job interview should be a conversation, with candidates asking as many questions as they answer. If you ask the right questions, you will not only discover whether you want the job, but you will also show your interviewers your critical thinking skills. The following questions are ideal for any job interview:
1. What legacy have my predecessors left?
This will give you a sense of what the company expects from you. Although you don’t have to limit yourself to what your predecessors did, it helps to know the range of acceptable behavior. Does the company value taking risks or playing by the rules? Does it prefer ambitious workers who compete with each other, or modest ones who cooperate?
2. What should my priorities be?
You need to know how to hit the ground running when you get this job. See if the company’s expectations are realistic for you. Do they expect you to do so much work you’ll be overwhelmed, or so little you’ll be bored? If you can’t be both productive and happy in this job for the long term, don’t take it.
3. Has this position changed since it was created?
If your goal is to make lots of money or do important things, you don’t want a job that remains static. A position that regularly changes and expands to include more duties is a position in which you can grow. If, on the other hand, you value security over money and power, you should aim for duties that rarely change.
4. Why do you like working here?
Pay attention to the way your interviewer answers this question. If she quickly lists the many things he/she likes about his/her job, you know you can enjoy working for that company. If, on the other hand, he/she has to think carefully before answering, or struggles to explain how the job is enjoyable, this might be the time to withdraw your application.
5. How do I become a successful manager?
Explain how you embody each quality your interviewer lists, giving specific examples when possible. Ask for examples of successful managers; the more your interviewer can name, the more chances you have for promotion in this job.
6. What are the challenges associated with this position?
This will help you to evaluate ahead of time whether you can handle this job. It also tells you about the company’s integrity: if the interview says there are no challenges, you should question whether or not they’re being completely truthful.
7. In this job, how do I collaborate with my manager?
This will help you to determine how you will be treated. If you object to having orders barked at you, don’t take a job for a company with top-down, dictatorial management. If you prefer the structure of clear orders to the chaos of creative freedom, don’t take a job with little oversight or vague notions of hierarchy.
8. Do you have any doubts about my qualifications?
This question will show your interviewer that you’re brave enough to discuss your shortcomings. For each flaw that he/she lists, defend yourself as well as you can. This will give you the chance to address any doubts then and there.
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