What to ask at an Interview

‘So, do you have any questions for us?’

As a hiring manager it frustrates me when the candidate politely smiles and says ‘urm… no, not really.’ Cue tumble weed from my side of the table.

This is your opportunity to find out the truth about the role, the organisation and whether working from home is something that is encouraged not frowned upon – errr… hello agile working?

Asking questions shows you are interested and can often make you standout from the other candidates who are not as prepared.

I have grouped the questions into 4: Role, Team/Manager, Culture and Next steps:

The role:

  • What are the long term objectives for this role?
  • Tell me about the biggest challenges this role is currently facing?
  • What would you like me to achieve in the first 3 months in this role?
  • How does the team react to failure?

The Team/Manager

  • Who will I be reporting too?
  • What are the top two traits you need this candidate to have to fit within the team?
  • How would you characterise the teams working style?
  • How would you characterise the teams communication style?

The Culture

  • What social activities does the organisation get involved in?
  • Tell me about the personal development planning for individual employees?
  • What Learning and Development courses are available?
  • What is different about working here compared to other organisation you have worked at?
  • Has the organisation embraced agile working? How often do teams work from home and/or other locations?

The Interview

  • What the next steps?
  • Is there anything else I can provide you? Such as further examples of my work?

If you really are clutching at straws, because you have covered all of the above, instead of the ‘Urm… no, not really’ please say something like this:

‘Thank you very much for seeing me today, we have covered the questions I was going to ask and just to confirm the next steps will be receiving a call from your HR manager. (Pause for the interviewer to confirm). I have really enjoyed our meeting today and if there is anything else I can provide, please let me know.’

Easy right?

Comment below, if you have any further questions that could be asked at an interview.

Making an Exit

It was hard a decision to make, but once I decided it was time to leave a Company that I fell for… to follow my own path, to find something that was more suitable to me and my career aspirations – I felt lighter, happier and energised.

The truth is, how you leave a company is just, if not more important, than how you enter the organisation. Yes, first impressions count but what about that lasting impression.

When you watch a film or TV programme you are gripped to how the story ended, not necessarily how it began. Crappy endings mean bad reviews, no season renewals, no sequel, no awards and worst of all, placed in the crap pile! By the show of hands: Who wants to be in the crap pile? – that’s right, NO ONE!

“You are only as good as your last job” – My partner

Here I tell my story of what I did in my final working days at Company H. If you are currently working your notice period, perhaps this can help shape your exit strategy.

My last few weeks were tough, my brain had started to empty, I had even started to forget people’s names (OK, in my defence, they themselves had already left and I hadn’t seen them for a good few months) and I was getting excited about my new adventure…

The plan was simple. Align expectations with my line manager, deliver on the items that were deemed critical and although tough, DO NOT get involved with the bullshit politics!

I kept my line manager in the loop, offered any assistance with reviewing CVs or being part of the recruitment process (which wasn’t accepted or in fact really my place, but the offer was there) and made sure I was available for any handovers. The management role I held, meant that I was a resource on multiple projects that were at all different stages within a project life-cycle. Knowing this I did the following:

  • Group drop-in sessions for Project Managers to come along to ensure that they had the up to date version of the process and had an opportunity to bring up any critical actions
  • 1-2-1 sessions with the individual Project Managers which gave them the opportunity to go into more specific detail and complete any relevant documentation
  • And finally, on this point – Each session was followed up with an email, copying in my team, my line manager and the mangers of Project Managers.

Aside from the project work I was responsible for, I also had ownership with processes and some general administration. I made sure all artefacts I created were accessible and followed this up with an email. I also produced a basic handover document, which could be used as a base for a new starter – the document included the document repository location, reporting details and conference ID details. Although it seems simple, not everyone uses their initiative or bothers to spend the time to produce such guides.

As my last few days sailed by, I made sure the I’s were dotted and the T’s crossed. I made sure I swapped contact details with colleagues that I had built great relationship with. I wasn’t very forthcoming with my next steps after I leave; some people like to announce their success however, it is also just fine to keep your cards close to your chest.

Departure day arrived, I sent a few emails then cleared my laptop down. After a farewell lunch, I did my rounds of goodbye, wishing people luck and success. I handed my equipment and building pass back to a trustworthy individual (my manager wasn’t in) and gracefully stepped out the front door, where it only felt like day before where the excitement all began.

Interview Questions – James Reed

Now, I am going to let you into a secret and introduce you to Why you? 101 interview questions to never be feared again’, by James Reed. This is how you will succeed in any interview.

James Reed, as in THE James Reed, chairman of the recruitment agency REED wrote an easy to follow book on the top interview questions he has seen throughout his career and provides a guide to give your best answers.

From ‘Tell me about yourself’ to ‘What animal would you be’ Reed goes though both conventional and the unconventional questions with clear suggestions on how you can tackle even the most difficult like, ‘What interview question have I NOT asked you?’

The book starts with an introduction about the moment. Specifically Andy Summers moment. Andy Summers, the guitarist from The Police (rock band) and the story of his tube journey that turned out to be the interviewed that landed him the best jobs in the world!

Other than a few anecdotes, Reed explores different techniques such as STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to help the reader shape their own answer to the question as well as give examples which are clear, concise and gives the reader a good base to form their own response from their experience.

To finish, Reed gives a parting chapter covering questions you can ask and how to follow up.

You can purchase the book from Amazon for as little as £2.00 used or £6.42 new.

What the media had to say:

Recruitment boss James Reed gives us an insider’s guide to the perfect interview (Daily Express)

What job interview questions really mean and how to answer them. If you view a job interview as a minefield, this advice by the head of a top recruitment agency could help you safely across (Irish Times)

Recruitment expert James Reed shows us exactly what NOT to do in a job interview (Daily Star)

Recommend Why You? to everyone who is in work, out of work, looking to move up, down or sideways – not just those who are actively planning a job search … indispensable (The Bookbag)

Reed takes an extremely affable approach, managing to take what can be a dry, stress-inducing subject and lifting it with a light, easy-to-follow touch (Press Association)

Read all 101 questions and be super prepared (GoThinkBig)

It is not enough to want to change jobs. You need to know why you want to change and where you want to get to (Working Mums)

Your chance to stand out from the crowd…gives you the answers they really want. Great as interview preparation (The Sun)