It’s easy to feel like the victim as a candidate interviewing for jobs. Whether you’re being interviewed on the phone, over video, or in-person, you can feel like you are in the “hot seat.” The problem with feeling like a victim is that you may be setting yourself up to land a job at the wrong company.  

First, get out of the victim seat and into a place of curiosity. Instead of seeing yourself as a victim, try seeing an interview as an opportunity to discover if this company truly meets your expectations for your next step in your career. In other words, interview the company to the same degree that you are being interviewed.  

How do you do that?

Here are some powerful questions to ask during your interview that will shift the balance of power in your direction:

1. What is your company culture like?  

Culture tells you how they behave outside of the interview on the job. In a past interview the interviewer told me that they worked long hours and on weekends — that was extremely important information for me to collect, since I wasn’t looking for that type of culture at the time. I let the company know after the interview that I decided not to move forward. 

2. What are the company’s values?

Do the company’s values mesh with yours? Do they operate in a way that would be in conflict with how you like to live your life?  

3. How are the company values reflected day in and day out?

This will help your interviewer get off their script about values and hopefully illuminate the reality. The values a company has on their website might differ from how the company actually operates. 

4. How can employees contribute their unique talents in addition to their regular job duties?

Many companies only pay lip service to creating other cross team opportunities etc. to further your career development. It’s important to know if the company has any systems in place that will allow you to shine and grow. 

5. What’s your onboarding process like? What is your training process like?

Are you going to be doing online training or will the company assign a peer mentor during your first weeks? Is there any training at all? Better to find out now than on your first day on the job. 

6. How is the company involved in community service?  

If this value is important to you, try to find out specifics. Do they actually have events during the work day or is their community involvement limited to weekends? 

7. How is team conflict resolved? 

When the inevitable tension rises in the office, how is it dealt with? I bet you’ve never asked this question but you certainly can and should! 

8. What do you personally like about the company?

Pay attention to how authentic your interviewer sounds when they answer this.  Do they really like the company or do you sense something else? I went on an interview and asked this question to a VP which she promptly responded with a two word answer — “the people.”  I was taken aback that her answer was so short, but what it communicated to me was that she was not engaged with the company and was perhaps unhappy. 

9. What is one thing the company can do better?

This is another great question to get your interviewer off their script. Listen carefully to the answer and make sure you’re still interested after the fact.  I once interviewed with a company that told me they were behind in technology. I didn’t pay much attention to the answer until I started the job and found out they were in prehistoric times. Needless to say, it turned out to be a frustrating experience until they caught up. 

10. What’s your best advice to someone starting a position here?

The answer will always give you some insights into the company culture and may affect your decision to want to work there. 

In your next interview, try some of these questions and see how it feels. You’ll likely find that you feel more empowered in your interview process and ultimately more confident now that you understand that you are interviewing the company too. 

Set up a time here to have an exploratory conversation about how I can help you ace your interviews so you can land at your dream company faster.  

I look forward to our conversation!

Frank