Russ Safirstein, Managing Partner, Paracon Group

December 2013 – Many of us go into job interviews cold.  We do our periphery research and get an update from the recruiter or from a colleague that we know, but truth be told we really don’t know enough to make an informed decision.  You need to do your homework and ask deep-level questions of your interviewer, otherwise you won’t know what you’re signing up for.  Let’s all avoid that unsavory situation.

So picture this, you go find the “dream job” from an online posting or recruiter.  Sounds just like the job you wanted.  You’re sold before you even submit your resume for consideration.  Now you get called for an interview and you have stars in your eyes – laser-focused on the final outcome: Impress the interviewer and land the job.  You nod enthusiastically at everything they say, recite your scripted responses and ask a few obligatory questions.

For some, scripted responses may make them sound like a robot, for you it works out well as you land the job.  You’re excited but you’ve neglected one crucial step – asking the right questions that would actually help you evaluate if the job was the right fit for you.  

What are some of these questions you ask?  Deeper questions about the company itself and what it is like to work there.  Here are some pointers from the experts:

  • Use online resources such as Glassdoor to see what former employees are saying about the company.
  • Ask who your supervisor will be and ask what type of manager they are.  See if they sound like the three bad classes of bosses: micromanagers, neglectors or yellers.  Avoid these at all costs.
  • Ask if there are any divisions of the company where you’ll have the greatest impact.  Certain impact can lead to another line on your growing resume or a future talking point.  Remember we’re building a career here.  The greater the impact the better chance you have of being fulfilled and enjoy what you’re doing.
  • Ask about the skills you could develop. These are important as your career evolves to match your skills development to the needs of the market.  Don’t just look at the skills today, but look to tomorrow’s needs and make sure you’re ready for the next phase of your career.
  • Ask to speak to a peer.  They can fill you in on the day to day aspects of the job.  Peers also help you evaluate where and how you fit in.  Do you like this person?  Can you see yourself spending your quality time with them and others like them?
  • Ask about culture.  The quality of life there and outside of work is important to you fitting in with the team.  What is the quality of the hours not just the quantity of hours?  Is there some fun in the workplace or is it all seriousness?  What environment works best for you?

Good luck in your job search.