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The interview process is a two-way street. The company wants to know if you will be a good fit with the company values, attitude, and qualifications needed. The interviewee (applicant) wants to know if the company will be a good match with their values and qualifications. The only way to make the most of the interview process is to be prepared to ask and answer questions.
Be prepared with questions of your own. Research the company in advance to prepare your own list of questions. Take this list of questions with you to the interview. Conducting research involves both prior to and during the interview.
Prior to the interview:
Read the company's annual report. Understand this report. This contains a wealth of information to prepare you for the interview. Perform some ratio analysis for your own benefit. If done correctly, this will reveal important information about the company.
If the company is publicly traded, research the stock information and notice trends. How many shares of traded? What is the stock price? Have there been any noticeable fluctuations in the stock value? Why? Any recent stock options offered? Any stock splits? By being prepared with stock research, you will gain insight into the company. Having your questions answered to your satisfaction will also give you satisfaction of the company's competency and honesty.
Read about company news. Keep abreast on what is happening with the company. Any new products or services offered recently? Any personnel changes such as new positions added? Many times company public news can include executive turnover. This is important to know. There are underlying reasons behind this trend. You need to be aware of this before accepting or rejecting a new position.
Prepare your reference list. Have at least three references available. To be safe, have two references be work-related. One reference will be a personal reference. Check with your references beforehand for inclusion onto your list. Include name, title, and phone number.
Research during the interview:
Ask about your superior's method of management. You need to find out if the person believes in a closed-door policy or open-door policy. This means, can employees feel comfortable knowing they can approach the superior without making an appointment (“open door policy”)? Or, do they need to schedule an appointment to speak with their supervisor (“closed door policy”)?
Be observant to the office culture and worker's personalities. Is the office one exhibiting quietness or is the atmosphere one of throwing paper planes while yelling across cubicles? (Don't laugh...this happens in some administrative offices.) Is the office well lit and clean? Notice the dress code. Is it to your liking?
Listen to what is said about your potential position. Is there a history of high turnover? Why is the position open? Ask if you are not told. High turnover signifies something is wrong. Is the job description to your liking? Is there a chance for advancement? What is the review process? What is the salary range? Is travel involved? If so, how much? Is overtime mentioned? If not, find out. Ask diplomatically what the average hours are for this position.
Notice the interviewer's demeanor. Would you like to work with someone like this? Do they seem easy to talk with? Are you comfortable (as can be during an interview)? Are they making good eye contact? Do they speak clearly and in non- demeaning terms? This section is important since the interviewer is a reflection of the company.
Ask about the company benefits, and its future plans. Listen to what is said. Do you like it?
Ask about findings from your ratio analysis. How are these questions answered? To your satisfaction? Why, or why not?
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|