The ASLA conference was a whole lot of fun and I have tons to share with you from it (I am really excited about this, so stay tuned). Last post, I listed a few questions that you should be prepared for in your next interview. Sadly, it is not reasonable to expect to be prepared for every single possible question you might be asked. Each interview you will have in your career will be as unique as you and your interviewer are, and believe me, there’s a whole lot of variety out there. In answering questions, keep this article on what interview questions are actually trying to discover from Seth Godin in mind. Read his post. No, seriously. Now look at the list I posted before and the answers you think you will give. Do your answers address the goals listed by Mr. Godin?
The interview, in addition to your superfab portfolio is where you have the greatest opportunity to shine as the clever, creative person you are. In distinguishing yourself from all the other people this employer might meet, your interview is where you can demonstrate your interest in their firm and your commitment to being a dedicated, contributing member of their team. While there is a certain amount of “winging it” when you answer questions, I hope the list below will help you to be prepared with some questions of your own. I’d understand if you read this and think that I’m joking. I can only say that it comes from personal experience, that of colleagues, and also discussions with a variety of employers. These questions are for real, they’re no joke, I’ve asked them (and many others) myself.
Read through the questions below, then look again at Seth Godin’s post from above and think about these questions from the perspective of an employer trying to build a solid, reliable group of employees. Focus especially on Mr. Godin’s last two items: How much do you care? and Will you fit in?
So let’s get to it (again, in no particular order):
- What do you see as the major areas that this firm should improve on in the future?
- Is there anything in my portfolio that you think needs improvement? Was something missing that you expected to see?
- How does this firm address their employees’ personal pursuits? (would they be o.k. with you having a freelance project? what about life/work balance?)
- What is this firm’s turnover history? (lots of layoffs may mean that employees are expendable or that they are not skilled at keeping afloat in a major downturn). Ask also how long employees tend to stick around, and when they do move on, what are the reasons people choose to leave this firm.
- What is your marketing strategy?
- Do you have a process in place for employee reviews? How does it work, and do you ever skip reviews?
- Why are you interviewing now? Is this in advance of a job opportunity (planning ahead to find the right people is a good sign!), or did the firm just get an exciting new project? (which is also nice, but may not be as good as the first option. What happens to you if that exciting new project stalls?) Also consider asking when they expect to make a decision on hiring.
- Do you have office/quality/CAD standards in writing? (says a lot about how serious the company is about being a well-run business)
- What would happen if I brought a client or project to the company?
- Who in this office is licensed and who isn’t? (BEWARE of firms without licensed bosses!!)
- What kind of person is/is not successful with your firm?
- Do the partners of this firm have a partnership agreement? and exit strategy? How do they work together to manage the company?
Watch your interviewer carefully when you ask these questions. I personally see it as a good thing when I believe I am hearing an honest answer, especially if they admit to areas that want improvement (and are working towards those improvements!). If the person tells you how great the company is, what a dream it is to work at, and that they’re simply perfect, I recommend asking lots of follow-up questions before believing them. Your time is valuable, and accepting a job at this company will affect your ability to build a career that you can be proud of. If all goes well and you would accept an offer from them, there is a very important question you must also ask: “Can I speak with a few of the employees about their experience working here?”. The answer to this must always be “yes”, then you must talk to the employees. I will talk about this in more detail in the future.
Please add your favorite questions for employers below in the comments. I look forward to reading them! Have a great interview or job story to tell? Post about it in the Employment Storytelling Group.