Who is Interviewing Whom?

Published on 14 April 2010 by Kelly Riggs in Interviewing

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206327 med 199x300 Who is Interviewing Whom?Job applicants typically view a job interview as a unilateral event. By that, I mean the assumption is the interviewer will ask questions and the applicant will provide answers to those questions. If the applicant does asks questions, they are only to clarify details of the job and/or to inquire about salary, benefits, training, etc.

If you haven’t done so before, you need to start thinking about the interview as a two-way street. In the vast majority of cases, companies are looking for talented, well-adjusted, hard-working employees. If that describes you, then you should know that the company needs you as much as you need a good job. Since a “good” job is one in which you will find satisfaction, have the opportunity to grow and develop, and be treated well, you should prepare as much to conduct an interview as you will to be the subject of the interview.

Here’s why: Research conducted by Leigh Branham and the Saratoga Institute reveals that, when employees quit their jobs, 70 percent of the time it is a direct result of how they are treated by their manager or supervisor. Combine that with Gallup research showing that over 70 percent of employees are either not engaged or actively disengaged and you reach a stunning conclusion: two-thirds of employees are not particularly fond of their jobs, and two-thirds of the time it is because they work for a bad boss.

Might be a good idea to get a sense of who you are going to work for, don’t you think?

A standard response to this thought is, “Well, yes, but I really need to get a job. I don’t know that I can afford to be that particular.” My standard reply: First, you need to improve your skills, enhance your image, and generally do everything possible to build your personal brand. If you put yourself in a position to be a “Top 3″ candidate in every job opening, you will get hired soon. Second, if you know that you will get hired – that you bring strong skills and maturity to the employer – then you can afford to be particular, and you should. A paycheck is important, but not important enough to feel devalued, taken advantage of, ignored, verbally abused, or constantly criticized.

If you are on board, here are some questions you might consider asking (this assumes you are being interviewed by the person who will be your immediate manager or supervisor):

  • How would you describe your management style?
  • How many employees are you directly responsible for?
  • What is most important for you to see in those employees that work for you?
  • How long have you been with the company?
  • How long have you been the manager of this team (department)?
  • In this position, who would be my internal customers?
  • What are your expectations for this position?
  • How do measure the success of the individual in this position?
  • What do you enjoy doing away from the job?

My suggestion is to handle these questions carefully – this is not an an inquisition, but an opportunity to begin building a relationship with your potential new boss. Be conversational. Be interested in the answers. Pursue the answers where appropriate. Remember this: people hire people they like and trust. Be likeable!

Finally, you should always try to talk to people who work for the person hiring you. Ask about the company and the job first, and then ask what they like most about the manager. Their responses – the things they say, and, in many cases, what they don’t say – will tell you a lot about the manager.

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