By Joe Stein
An underrated but crucial part of any interview is the time allotted to the Job Seeker to ask questions of the person doing the interviewing. The Question & Answer (Q&A) period with a Recruiter can allow time to ask about process and timetable, while the time spent with the Hiring Manager can present the opportunity to ask about the job and expectations.
In this edition, let’s examine a common question to ask in an interview (particularly to the Hiring Manager): “What is a Typical Day or Week?”
Why Should You Ask It?
· Provide Insight Into Responsibilities – A Job Description is helpful, but there is nothing like hearing from the source what to expect. Mentally match your skills and experiences with the responsibilities presented. Be ready to respond with more detail regarding how you match well with these needs.
· Develop a Sense of Work/Life Balance – Asking this question should provide you a sense of the commitment needed to be successful in the position. If you hear a day or week that is much more aggressive than you are ready to commit to, then be ready to look elsewhere.
· Reveal Philosophy of Supervisor – Listening to the Hiring Manager describe a typical day or night, will help you gain a sense for what is important. Listening to the description will most likely also provide you a sense of both the communication and management style of the person.
· Determine Growth – This can be easily gauged by listening to the description of the typical day or week. If all you hear is day-to-day tasks, then the position is less likely to be one of growth.
· Determine Fit – Ultimately, this is the core reason to ask this question. A Job Seeker needs to determine if this position is right for them. This question will go a long way to helping make that decision.
Examples Of How It Can Be Asked:
· “What is a Typical Day or Week?” – The obvious way to ask it…especially considering it is the title of this article. This approach allows you to listen through a walkthrough of the position and gather much needed information on several points (listed above). I like the general nature of the question because it usually lends itself to the Hiring Manager freely speaking while not committing you to a particular point-of-view.
· “What Do You Feel Are the Most Important Duties of the Position?” – By focusing on what the Hiring Manager believes is most important, you start having him or her speak freely. The emphasis is on the positive, specifically what is of the highest value to this person.
How Not To Ask the Question:
· “How Many Hours Would I Have to Work?” – A negative approach to gauge the hours required in the position. The Hiring Manager will most likely interpret this question as coming from someone who is not dedicated to the position and company.
· “Would I have to Work Past “X” Time?” – You may, for personal reasons, have a deal breaker component to your schedule needs. This question, however, causes you to go on the offensive and show your hand early in the game.
· “Is There Any Overtime?” – This is a dangerous question! If you ask it because you want OT and there isn’t any, then the Interviewer may conclude that you will not be satisfied. If you ask it in a way that is clear that you want to avoid OT, than the Interviewer may feel you are not properly motivated.
· “Would I Have To Do “X”?” – The interview is not the time to start expressing what you do not want to do in the job. Get a feel for the duties from the Job Description or listening to how the Interviewer answers your generic question. Do not single out a particular item as something you like or dislike until AFTER it has been expressed as a duty. At that point, you can state how skilled you are in that area and how much you really enjoy the responsibility being discussed. You should never profess how you dislike something that is a duty of the position.
An overall key when asking this question is to avoid showing your hand when provided with an answer. Don’t be quick to opt out, or show any type of body language that makes it appear you disapprove of a response. You can always regret an offer after you have had time to process everything presented and conclude that a fit does not exist.
As always, best of luck in your job search.