What to Always Ask in an Interview

We have a client that I would describe as very values-driven. While they set the bar high on the qualifications, skills and track record they seek when hiring, those never outweigh concerns of culture fit, values, and a kind, caring approach to people. For this firm, how an employee undertakes their responsibilities matters as much as the objectives they are tasked with meeting.

Candidates are similarly concerned with finding roles aligned with their skills, experience and aspirations. Finding the ‘right’ role however adds considerations of fit around values, style, and approach, as these will often determine success in the role and company.

Candidates should be sufficiently self-aware to be able to talk about the issue of fit and to answer pointed questions when asked. They should also however be able to ask questions to help ascertain fit for themselves.

Next time a potential boss is interviewing you, try to find the opportunity to ask questions such as…

  1. ‘Among your current team members who models the qualities that you value most?
  2. What makes them effective in their role?’ Alternatively, one can ask, ‘Who would you point to as your best hire over the past five years and what has made them the best??’ (the answers will give clues to what matters most in that company or to that manager).
  3. How would people here describe you as a leader? (the answers will likely reflect what that manager values)
  4. If you had a problem with something I did or my performance, how would I find out?
  5. Within my first three months, how will you evaluate my performance? (Will they be primarily task oriented or include behavioral criteria?)

In the end, candidates should want to understand:

  • The way people act, make decisions, manage the business, etc.
  • The way people communicate with each other (including mode, manner and frequency), engage in intellectual debate, manage conflict, etc.
  • How people feel about the organization’s purpose, mission, vision, identify with the subgroup, group, organization, etc.
  • People’s underlying values, approach to learning, risk, time horizons, etc.
  • The way people approach the workplace in terms of formality/informality, preferred office environment, tools etc.

While candidates may not be in the position to select the company of their choice, they should at least understand where they will be well-aligned or need to adapt if they are to succeed in the company that hires them.

About the Author

Robert Hebert is the founder and Managing Partner of StoneWood Group Inc., a leading executive search firm in Canada. Since 1981, he has helped firms across a wide range of sectors address their senior recruiting, assessment and leadership development requirements.

Contact Robert by email at [email protected] or call (1) 416-365-9494 EXT 777

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