Interviews are simply a conversation between two (or more) people.
However, instead of talking about sports, Netflix, or what you’re going to do on the weekend, your trying to get a sense of whether you’d work well together in a specific work arrangement.
The employer in this instance (hopefully!) has a very clear idea of what this “specific work arrangement” looks like. They know exactly what’s entailed day-to-day, and what skills and attributes their ideal employee would have to be successful in this position.
While you’re expected to have some idea of what’s required for the position you’re interviewing for (read interview tips from an employer for more!), this is really your chance to ask the employer some key questions. Your goal with these questions is to help you understand if this specific work environment and position is one that will meet your goals.
TAKEAWAY: Interviewing Your Interviewer Provides A Valuable Opportunity To Understand The “Specific Work Arrangement” You’re Applying For, And Then Decide If It Fits Your Goals.
What To Expect In Your Interview
Generally, interviews follow a fairly predictable patter: First you introduce yourselves, the interviewer asks you a few questions, and then you get an opportunity to ask the interviewer a few questions.
However, sometimes the interview takes on a more organic feeling. These interviews are often impressive as the interviewee is prepared and able to participate in the conversation. In these more organic interviews, often your questions to the interviewer, flow organically from your answers to their original question!
There really is no “right” or “wrong” format. Both formats lead to work offers and successful work experiences.
However, some people find the organic conversation form more fun.
This is simply because having a conversation with two well informed people is more fun.
But in order for the organic form to occur in an interview, both sides of the conversation must be prepared to discuss the task at hand: namely, whether you’d work well together in a specific work arrangement.
Similarly, there’s also no “right” or “wrong” time length for the interview. Sometimes this takes 5 minutes, other times it takes an hour or more!
How To Interview The Interviewer
Remember The “Big Picture” When Asking Questions
One of the things many work seekers fail to realize, is that employers are looking for the best investment in their new hire.
What does that mean?
It means at the end of the day, the business exists to make money. Not to sell whatever product or service it provides, and not to give you a job.
In order for the business to make money, they need to have employees who do great work and are reliable.
This is excellent news for you. Because it means that you, as a reliable and dedicated employee, are valuable to the employer!
Part of the interview process is to show that you will be a good investment.
Your opportunity to do this is not only limited to answering the interviewers questions. It can also be subtly signalled by asking questions that indicate to the interviewer that you’re tapped into the bigger picture – the business’ needs, and how you fit into that equation.
TAKEAWAY: Use Questions To Signal To The Interviewer That You Understand Part Of Your Success In The Position Is Dependant On The Active Role You Play In The Overall Success Of The Business.
Ask Questions That Are Relevant To What’s Important To You
You need work to pay the bills, we get it.
But interviewers are often looking for people who have thought through how this position will fit into their life.
Depending on the position you’re applying for, employers don’t necessarily expect your life to revolve around the work position. They do however expect you to be realistic and honest about how many hours you want, and are able, to commit.
They will also be looking for whether you’ve thought through key aspects of how this position will fit into your life. Considerations like how you will get to and from work, and how long this commute will take you are key considerations.
Because of this, you can use your questions to find out more about this specific work experience, and whether it will fit in with your current obligations.
For example, do you have childcare responsibilities? Questions like “do you have a policy for getting team members to cover shifts in an emergency?” may be helpful. This would indicate an employer with robust HR policies that will help you fell supported, and not leave you scrambling last minute if your child is sick.
Similarly, if you typically drive to work you will want to know if there’s parking provided. And if not, you will want to consider whether transit is something that will fit into your life.
Essentially, you want to use your questions to truly understand whether this work will fit into your life in a way that will help you be successful, based on what’s important to you.
Maintain A Conversational Tone
Interviews can be nerve wracking. And when put on the spot, it’s not uncommon to freeze or get nervous!
Take a big deep breath. Remember, this is just a conversation with a different subject matter than what you’re used to talking about with your friends.
And as with any conversation, they go best when there is some genuine interest in the person you’re speaking with – so don’t forget to smile!
The key is to be as honest and forthright as possible. And to maintain a conversational tone throughout.
To achieve this, communication skills matter. You can practice these in the time leading up to the interview. Notice how you interact in conversations with your friends. Ask yourself if you were clear when you explained something to them. Ask follow up questions when they tell you something and you would like some clarification to fully understand what they’re telling you. And then simply apply these same principles to your interview conversation!
As a last note, try not to ask questions that have already been answered in the course of the conversation. You may have put a lot of work into planning to ask certain questions. But instead of making you look prepared, it jars the flow of the conversation and come off as if you weren’t listening when the question was answered earlier.
Examples Of Interview Questions
It’s always a good idea to go into an interview with some questions that will help you learn more about this specific work experience. Here are some examples to get you started:
- Is there an online training program?
- Do you allocate specific training hours, and if so how many?
- If I were hired, what would you expect me to do prior to my first day (e.g. read employee manual, have banking and SIN details ready, complete introductory online training courses)?
- If there is a uniform, and if so who is responsible for the cost of the uniform? What about the replacement cost?
- If I were hired, what is the dress code (in addition to any potential uniform) that I would be expected to wear (e.g. non slip shoes, black pants, no jewelry)?
- Could you describe the ideal employee for this position? What skills do they have? What attributes?
- Can you describe the top five tasks I would perform in this position if I were hired?
- If I were hired, can you help me get an idea of what I could expect on my first day? What about my first week?
- What are your planned next steps for the interview process? Will you be conducting follow up interviews? Do you have a timeline for when successful candidates will be notified? Will you notify unsuccessful candidates?
- Is there something else I can provide for you to help you make your decision (e.g. school schedule, reference letter, certification relevant to the position)?
- What do you love most about working for this company?
- What do you find most challenging about working for this company?
That’s it for us for now – good luck in your interview conversation! As with most things in life, they get easier the more you do them 🙂 So keep practicing if you’re not successful at first. We know you’re going to do great!
Do you have any great interview questions? Have you ever had a terrible interview? What was the best interview you had and why? Comment below!