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Attending an interview is undoubtedly a very nervous time as there are many factors at play. While they are designed for employers to get to know you, interviews are also a chance for you to find out more about the employers and gauge your fit for the job within the company. As one of the most overlooked but essential aspect during this process, here's what you need to know to help you evaluate your position and your suitability.

Training and development

It's usually a good idea to show an interest in what the business is going to offer you as part of the training and development within the role. This may not be as relevant if you're in a contracting role as you'll be expected to organise your personal development through various training or courses. But if you're going for a permanent position, then exploring questions on this subject is an excellent place to start.

A simple question along the lines of 'will there be opportunities to do external training courses?' will help show your interest in the role. It will demonstrate your enthusiasm for learning and eagerness to improve your skills on the job. The answer given by the interviewer will also clearly show the type and level of commitment the business has for developing their people. Here are some questions you could ask:

  • What training programs are available or are in place for this role?
  • Where has the previous employee in this position progressed to?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement or professional development?
  • Are there any examples of a career path beginning with this position in the company?
  • What are the company's plans for growth, and how will this role contribute?
  • If I am interested in learning a new skill, are there areas where I could shadow someone more experienced and learn more about that type of work?

Company culture

If you want to know what it's like to work for the business, then you'd have to ask specific questions. Avoid asking general ones like 'what's the company culture like?' to the interviewer. Besides the fact that working culture is a complex area that covers various aspects of the business, getting a direct answer to that question is likely to be a standardised response. To get a good feel of the company culture, consider asking these to your interviewer:

  • What does success look like here?
  • What's your day-to-day like working for this business?
  • What was the last achievement celebrated in the office?
  • What social activities does the company offer employees?
  • Does the business give back to the community? If so, in what ways?
  • What are some successes that the company has accomplished this year?

Pay attention to the answers discussed and don't be afraid to ask them to elaborate if their responses seem vague. Remember, these questions should help give you a good indicator of how the team and business function daily beyond the polished website or glossy brochure. So the more specific, the better! Here’s a bonus tip: consider using additional resources such as Glassdoor to prepare before the interview and steer your questions on the culture of the business.

Expectations

Although job descriptions and role overviews are typically provided, interviews are an excellent opportunity for you to delve into this in more detail.

Be strategic here and tactfully ask questions about your responsibilities, growth opportunities and expectations. The answer you receive will help provide a clear summary of your role and give you a plan of action for when you start! Questions you could ask include:

  • What specific challenges are associated with this job?
  • What are the most important milestones that you would like to see someone accomplish in the first few months in this role?
  • What and how will this role be measured?
  • Will the responsibilities of this job change six months from now?
  • What advice would you give if I get this role?
  • Is it possible to work remotely throughout the week?

Interview performance

Most candidates would say no when given a chance to ask questions but take the opportunity and use the time to address any concerns the interviewer may have. Part of knowing how to interview successfully is to attend prepared, give answers that sell your abilities and ask questions to gauge your suitability for the job. To get an overview of your interview performance, consider asking the following:

  • Is there anything more that you would like me to clarify?
  • Is there anything else I can provide to help you make your decision?
  • How do I compare with the other candidates you've interviewed for this role?
  • Do you think I'm a good fit for the company?
  • Do you have any reservations about my qualifications?

In conclusion

No matter how daunting interviews may seem, they are a two-way discussion between the hiring manager and the candidate. This list is by no means extensive or definitive, but they are on subject areas that should help you gauge your suitability for the job and the business.

Ask the right questions to the interviewer, and you'll be demonstrating your interest and commitment in the correct manner. Remember, in any situation – but especially in interviews – being over-prepared is always better than being underprepared! So go the extra mile, stretch your comfort zone and leave a lasting impression by asking great questions in your next interview.

Good luck, we're rooting for you!!