Job Candidates Need to Ask Good Questions Too – Ask HR Bartender

by Sharlyn Lauby on July 5, 2012

There’s always lots of conversation about the need for hiring managers to ask good questions. But that advice is just as important for job candidates too. Here’s a reader question that really brings the point home:

Hi Sharlyn. Can you recommend any reading about surviving a toxic manager? I was just let go from a position that I held temporarily for 7 months.

The real reason? My boss’ drinking buddies (literally) didn’t like me – she used a circle of them as spies and enforcers. My evaluations were all satisfactory but laced with snarky and false comments.

I will be OK. Mostly, I just don’t want this to happen again. Can you assist?

Just because you’re interviewing for a job doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions. And not only the superficial ones about the mission statement of the organization. It’s equally important for candidates to feel at ease with the work environment. Here are a few suggestions to help candidates during the interview process:

  1. Check out Glassdoor.com and see what others are saying about the company.
  2. Develop one question that you can ask each person you interview with. Something like, “Name one word to describe the company culture.” Listen carefully to how each person responds. Then put the answers together and (trust me) it will paint a picture.
  3. Ben Eubanks, author of the blog Upstart HR, wrote a great post titled “14 Ways to Research as a Job Candidate”. I really liked his question on what types of behaviors are rewarded. Check out his post.

Lastly, make sure you’re comfortable with the interview that happens with your potential manager. I know candidates want the job. But I can’t tell you how many times an employee has come to HR and admitted that they wanted the job so badly, they ignored all the red flags the manager was sending. And I don’t mean red flags as in “something is wrong”. Red flags as in the employee and manager were destined to never get along.

interview, corporate culture, job, job interview, manager, employee, hr, job candidates

Interviewing is a two-way street. Neither the company nor the candidate will know everything about each other. But develop a strategy to learn as much as possible and make sure that you can honestly live with what you know. Otherwise, someone is going to end up being miserable.

What other interview questions or tips would you suggest for this reader? Leave your thoughts in the comments. Thanks!

Image courtesy of Deirdre Honner

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{ 8 comments }

Bas July 5, 2012 at 7:38 am

“In 6 months, what would the successful candidate have accomplished that would make you feel like you made the right choice?”

Sharlyn Lauby July 5, 2012 at 8:47 am

Great question Bas. Thanks for sharing!

Mahesh Guruswamy July 5, 2012 at 11:21 am

One thing I want to suggest as an alternative to glass doors is http://www.jobrap.com. I will be honest, I am one of the founders of jobrap.com. Jobrap allows you to directly interact with people working in that company or people who have worked there before and allows you to have meaningful conversations versus a passive anonymous list of reviews like the one showed on glass doors.
Mahesh Guruswamy recently posted..Where is my cake?

Jonathan Lau July 5, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Discovering cultural fit is something that I stress to college students looking into their first internship. However, simply asking “What is your company culture like?” will just get a candidate a canned answer. That’s why I really liked the awesome questions in Welcome to the Occupation’s recent post. My favorite one was ” If I get up from my desk and computer to stretch my legs and walk around after sitting for hours, will I be reprimanded, ostracized, or frowned upon?”

Jonathan Lau
Biz Dev
InternMatch
Jonathan Lau recently posted..Meet InternMatch’s Community Manager

John@PGISelfDirected July 6, 2012 at 4:43 am

I think Sun Tzu’s Art of War is a wonderful resource to expand the insights in this post.
John@PGISelfDirected recently posted..Can an IRA be Co-Jointly Owned? (Remember the “I”)! (VIDEO)

Sharlyn Lauby July 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Thanks everyone for adding some additional resources!

Tom Gimbel, CEO July 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm

I think is probably one of the most debated topics out there. There are a slew of questions that every job candidate should be asking their interviewer. The right questions are key to finding out if you’re a fit for not only the position, but the company as well. I’ve interviewed thousands of job candidates in my time – some good, some bad. Here are my top questions for job seekers to ask and the questions to stay away from: http://pastfive.typepad.com/pastfive/2007/09/what-to-ask-and.html

Sharlyn Lauby July 7, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Thanks for sharing Tom. I like the 30/60/90 day question!

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