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  • Five Questions to Ask in an Interview

    By Mary Heideman

    Today’s savvy candidates must sell themselves to an organization and accurately assess whether they can succeed in that organization. Success means having the skills and attitude that are rewarded by that organization. The intangible of “attitude” really determines the right fit for an organization and a candidate.

    Each organization has its unique culture and adapting, in fact thriving, in that culture is required to be productive and effective. But determining what that culture truly is and whether “I’m comfortable here” isn’t always easy. Have you ever heard the comment, “I wish I’d known this before I came to work here”? The time to determine the best match is before you take the job, not after. Here are five ways to start the process of uncovering “the unwritten rules of survival” in an organization:

    1. What are the three most important categories on the organization’s performance evaluation?
    2. Can you describe someone who was recently promoted and tell me why that person was promoted?
    3. Who is your organization’s competition and what does the competition do better or worse than you?
    4. Who held this job previously and where is that person now?
    5. What do you know about the organization now that you didn’t when you joined it?

    Looks Matter!—How information is presented is as important as the information itself.

    Ask these questions of your prospective boss, your interviewer and a range of potential coworkers and you’ll get a library’s worth of insight into the organization’s culture. That insight will help you decide whether to accept or reject the job offer. If, for example, you believe you do your best work alone, but everyone says teamwork is one of the most important performance appraisal categories, you may detect a faulty fit and escape a costly mistake.