Monday, April 16, 2012

Reservations Not Accepted

Getting a coveted interview with a great company, for a position that is well-advertised, for which one seems like a very good fit: a bit of a golden ticket, eh?

Well, I thought so. A lot of us have been there. Fast, positive feedback on the resume and phone interview. A half day filled with several interviews in succession, including both execs and a hiring manager. Kick it all off with an HR download, org chart, maybe sort of testing if that's what they're into. You've come armed with list of questions, because you've done the prep work suggested by the staffing company presenting you. Receptive people. Good answers. Until a few days later when the most important answer turned out to be "no," they'll pass. They just didn't get the right impression.

That smarts. We can do our homework and try to stack the deck in our favor before interviewing, and we should, but we can't win them all. Actually, in today's job market, it can be tough to win any at all.

But remember, each of us only needs to win one--the right one. The best one for us. And for our new employer, too. So when I ran across the U.S. News article linked below and its list of fantastic questions to ask prospective employers when on an interview, I felt like I had a winning lottery ticket in my hands. Not only do I wish I'd asked some of these questions about positions I didn't get, they also will prompt the type of answers I wish I'd had for jobs I'd actually taken the past.

Almost everyone I know wishes they'd have thought to ask a future boss this, at one time or another:
  • How would you describe your management style?
There's a huge difference between a supervisor who says they're basically hands-off and will try to trust their team to work together to get the job done, versus one who says they are exacting and demanding, but will always reward the highest achievers. We don't all thrive under either style.

In any future interview, I will now do my best to ask this question before I leave:
  • Are there any reservations you have about my fit for the position that I could try to address?
If they do have a reasonable doubt that I find I can't really address, maybe I'm not a great fit after all.

If there is a mistaken reservation about me, based on a vibe I've given off without realizing it, or a comment heard the wrong way, now is my chance to correct the wrong impression. I came armed with a sheet full of questions, for example. Does that come off as overly prepared, or not confident in conversation. Or, what about this blog and my tweets? Could it be I seem unwilling to focus on one informal, social kind of writing, only? None of that is true, so this question lets us discuss my confidence, preparation and ability to focus on one style of writing when needed at work. A win-win.

Here's the full article to read:

The Right Questions to Ask At Your Next Interview
by Alison Green

From it, I learned I've likely made a few mistakes by not probing a little deeper into the nature of the positions I've interviewed for. I now know to ask what it will take for me to succeed not just as a candidate for the job, but as an actual employee day-to-day.


  1. Great questions! I do ask the management style one and I've gotten some interesting answers. I always wonder if people are able to accurately represent themselves on this one.

    1. @Arlene, not always, I'm sure. Sometimes they will tell you in so many words, right in the interview. In my last position, the person who would become my boss said if she was told the next marketing initiative was keeping the floors clean, then okay, she'd start renting carpet cleaners for us. I could see she felt her job was to make sure her team helped each other get stuff done the best they could to meet company objectives. --Faith