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Get the job you deserve: seven interview questions you’d be crazy not to ask

You can redress this by asking key questions at strategic points in an interview, and impress HR staff as a result

Interviews should be a two way street, an opportunity for a jobseeker and a potential employer to see how well they can meet each other’s needs. The reality though is often quite different, as candidates come under pressure to prove their worth while interviewers assume they have something of an advantage.

You are responsible for checking out if a job is a good fit for your skills, personality and ambitions. That means using part of your interview slot to dig for details about the workplace culture you will be part of, and the person or people you will be working for.

Adapted from Heather Krasna’s book ‘Jobs That Matter: Find a Stable, Fulfilling Career in Public Service’, here are seven critical questions that you really should ask to help you decide if this is the position for you.

How would you describe your management style?

A crucial question as the response will provide insight into what lies ahead, day in and day out. Micro-management? Total freedom? Look for an honest and thoughtful reply, rather than a meaningless generic response, and make sure you ask this of anyone you will report to, as styles may differ between immediate supervisors and those higher up the ladder.

What do you like best about working for this organization?

Most people love to talk about themselves, and here you really want an answer which is enthusiastic but realistic. Reluctance, hesitation or generalized responses should ring alarm bells.

How did this position become available?

There’s no particular correct response here. A new position can be moulded to fit, but also have teething troubles or lack excellent supervision from the start. While with a vacancy due to someone quitting, or being fired probably needs more investigation to discover what happened.

What would you specifically expect from a successful candidate in the next six or twelve months?

This question is crucial for two reasons. Firstly it shows HR that you are looking for clear goals to meet, and, secondly it helps you decide if you can, or actually want to, achieve them.
Are there any resources available to the successful candidate?

Some companies want the world for the price of a continent. If they are open to funding the support you need to meet their goals you are on track for success. If not, then simply keep walking.

What is going to happen next?

As a job seeker your time is valuable, so don’t be shy to ask about their next move. Good employers tend to respect this, and will answer with clear and direct responses.

May I have your business card?

This lets you make contact first, perhaps with a quick call to check on progress if you have not heard back in a reasonable time. If you prefer, an email enquiry is fine. If neither gets a response consider the job to be closed.

Now you have insider knowledge on the best questions to ask during an interview it’s time to go get that job of your dreams!

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