It's a new year, is it time for a new career? With a new year comes many professionals making resolutions to climb the corporate ladder or find a new role. While job searching, candidates often prepare for an interview by practicing responses to common interview questions, however, some of the most important questions to prepare are those the candidate asks the interviewer.
Not only do these questions reflect the candidate’s priorities and interest in the role, they are a key opportunity for them to gain an accurate understanding of the company culture, team dynamic, role responsibilities, and assess if the opportunity is a strong match. In fact, 3 in 10 new employees leave a job within the first 90 days because they either did not have a strong understanding of the role or did not like the company culture.
Asking these 6 questions in an interview can help candidates avoid accepting the wrong role by uncovering the real opportunity.
What is your company doing to address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts?
DEI strategies vary across different organizations, however, companies that have a more diverse workforce have been shown to outperform similar, less-diverse businesses. And according to a recent study, 74% of companies reported an increased focus on DEI within their organizations in 2021, many creating new programs and policies supporting employees of all backgrounds, as well as reducing bias in hiring and succession planning.
An interviewer should be able to discuss, to some degree, how the business has had conversations with staff regarding DEI, new policies or practices implemented, or new groups or initiatives created to help support DEI. Especially for those looking to get involved in social causes and/or support a diverse company culture, this question can help identify if the company would be a match. It also serves as a litmus test for how the organization responds to issues within their workforce and adapts to change within the broader social environment.
How did your team/business change over the last two years due to the pandemic?
The pandemic altered the way many teams and companies operate, and how leadership responded to the disruption of the pandemic and helped their team navigate new realities is a strong indicator of how they will continue to evolve.
Did the business make changes and adapt quickly to meet demand? How did the business and culture shift throughout the pandemic as the social climate and market evolved? A strong response to this question should not only hit on how business processes and team priorities adjusted in response to the pandemic, but also how the company culture and team dynamic was influenced.
How have you invested in employee engagement in the last year?
The quit rate has sky-rocketed recently, reaching a record-high of 3%, and this ‘Great Resignation’ has impacted many businesses across all industries, leading companies to rethink their employee engagement strategy.
While interviewers may or may not share specifics regarding turnover, learning more about their engagement strategies can help indicate what employee concerns and desires the company actively works towards, as well as their willingness to gather employee feedback, keeping a pulse on what matters most to their people.
Regardless of the specific changes made, knowing that leaders within the organization care for their employees and work towards improving their experience is insightful.
Can you describe the team dynamic, and how you would like it to evolve in the next year?
While it is important to understand and identify with the company culture of a business before accepting a role, it is just as important for candidates to ask about and understand the team dynamic of the group they would be joining, and how that team interacts with the rest of the organization.
Some professionals prefer to work more independently, and some prefer greater amounts of collaboration. It is important for candidates to ensure the dynamic of the team would complement their own preferred work style, and to understand how they would need to adjust to be successful within the team.
As the interviewer shares his/her plans for how they would like the team to evolve, it is important to hear how they plan to maximize the strengths of their people and how they intend to maintain connection and engagement. Especially as a team grows, it is essential for leaders to be forward-thinking and plan for the team’s success.
How does your team support company goals?
Each team within an organization is poised to support at least one, if not many, overarching company goals. Understanding which goals the team supports allows a candidate to know what their impact within the organization would be and helps them get a taste of how different teams interact to support company growth. Ask the interviewer to share a specific example, if possible. This response can provide insight into how the candidate can be a successful contributor on the team and what it takes to make an impact and grow a career within the organization.
This can also help uncover more about the team’s work ethic. The response to this question can also give the candidate an idea of how one could be a successful contributor to the team and what it takes to make an impact and grow a career within the organization.
What training/development opportunities are there associated with this role?
Opportunities for growth and development have been a top priority for job seekers for years, according to past LaSalle Network annual surveys. However, the kind of skill-building opportunities available vary greatly across different businesses and teams, from tuition reimbursements, to robust internal trainings, to stipend/reimbursement for seminars and certifications pertaining to the employee’s role. Some businesses also support informal training in the form of mentorships, hands-on leadership, and more.
As a follow up question, candidates may also ask how often employees present external training ideas, such as relevant online courses or certification programs they’d like to attend, and how often these trainings are approved by management. Candidates may also consider asking for an example of a recent training someone within the team has attended to get a better understanding of what types of training the team is interested in and supports. Because continued learning and development is important to many candidates, it is essential that the hiring manager is able to expand on the opportunities that could be made available to them in the role in order to showcase their investment in talent and commitment to helping employees grow.
It is important to remember the interview process is a two-way street, meant to create an engaging dialogue between candidate and interviewer to assess if the role and candidate may be a good match. While candidates prepare questions to ask their interviewer, they should stray beyond typical questions that could be answered by a Google search and instead opt for intentional questions that help them truly understand and assess company culture.
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