Along with all the other annoying variables and frustrations in job hunting, all parties can find it tricky to manage expectations and avoid capricious pre-judgements, especially if you rely on Google as your coach or sole source of inspiration.
As much as they can, candidates in particular need to be able to control how they are perceived and understand what sort of first impressions they are making.
If you are you getting disappointing results from job interviews, you might not know why. And when you don't know why something happens, it's hard to find a solution.
At the end of an interview, candidates are often asked if they have any questions. Some use this opportunity to ask what career options might be open to them at ABC company. What pathways are available? Is my career going to be supported here? What training/professional development do you have? Is there parking? When and how are salaries reviewed? (gulp).
These questions are all valid and it's right for candidates to consider a range of things when balancing out whether or not a particular role or firm will be the right fit for them. But if you are a bit blunt or you overdo these questions at the interview, you can run the risk of sounding like Me Me Me, What’s In It For Me.
WIFM questions can give an employer or recruiter the impression you might only be looking at the role as a stepping stone. Or only because of salary. Or because you might get free training or further education down the track. Or because you want someone else’s role in 6 months time (sometimes the person sitting opposite you at the client interview).
You need to be aware that for an employer seeking stability and loyalty, even though it's not your intention, too many of these questions can raise a red flag. Especially if the employer has a small team and isn’t able to support future career pathways for all staff. Companies might also have short or longer-term financial constraints or challenges and can’t offer what their competitors can in the way of money. Or they might have made dud hiring decisions in the past. If these poor decisions have affected culture or productivity, they can become gun-shy or too risk-averse about recruitment and can take your questions the wrong way.
Some candidates ask certain bland, stock standard questions because Google tells them to. But for candidates who simply want to get a job, have a stable position and be a productive employee, following the Google script and perhaps going overboard with the what’s-in-it-for-me questions could work against you and just throw up unwanted roadblocks at your interview. If you are going through a recruiter, most of these questions should have been answered for you by your consultant anyway so maybe save your questions for things that a company likes to talk about - themselves. How they differ from their competitors, what is their work culture, what are the things they love about working for this company?
Before your interview, do you already know the size of the team? Is the company small, midsize or large? What type of hierarchy do they have, what is the mix of roles at your level? These aspects can have a huge bearing on future promotions or career pathways. For instance, sales and customer service type companies generally have front and back office staff, but sometimes these roles work in isolation. To move your career forward in this type of firm, you might have to go into sales. If you already know you don't want to work in direct sales, asking about your career prospects is kind of asking for something that your employer literally can't provide.
It’s perfectly ok to be ambitious. Being picky and deliberate about your next move is your prerogative and totally understandable for quality applicants looking for their next move. Just keep in mind though that there can be more strategic ways of finding the answers to your questions, so think ahead of your interview about how you will go about asking them. Instead, try focussing on their questions and turn many (but not all, don't overdo this tactic either) into opportunities to showcase how, if given the opportunity, you might add value to their team.
Coming from an approach of what you will bring, instead of what you will get, can create a great impression of what it might be like to work alongside you.
Google is great. But do your research, ask your recruiter questions, get informed and be your best self.
Good luck 😊
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