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Rethink your questions at the end of an interview

For the last twenty years we have heard and even may have practiced Behavioral Based Interviewing, the technique where you ask candidates about actual examples of situation they lived, how they reacted, etc. Instead of asking what the candidate’s strengths are, you ask for a time when they went above and beyond the call of duty, or for an example of a conflict they had with a coworker and how it got resolved. The goal is to get a better idea of the candidate’s experience, character and values with real examples as opposed to getting a canned response such as “One of my great traits is that I am hard working and I get the job done”.

But what happens when you are the candidate? When you are pursuing a career opportunity, you need to get better data about the opportunity and company. That is the only way you will make an educated decision. In the same way a business doesn’t want to waste time selecting and training people that ultimately are not a fit, you should not waste your time with an organization that is not a fit for you.

When interviewing try applying the same concepts of asking for examples and real stories. Why ask the same canned questions at the end of an interview? Why not ask questions that will give you better insight about the company and its culture? I call it reversed behavioral-based interviewing.

Here are just a few examples:

What is your culture when it comes to advancement, opportunities and promotions? Can you give me an example of a success story? What about a failure?This will tell you if the company promotes from within or not. You will learn what kind of support system exists for current employees. It is important to assess based on examples what kind of opportunities are really possible with that job and company.

Can you think of a time when a member of your team was not pulling their weight? What happened?

See how the examples given match with the way you feel about people who don’t contribute. Is this an organization that tolerates it or that demands that all employees chip in? Whatever the answer is, decide how it mashes up with who you are.

Would you say the company encourages people to speak out and contribute with ideas? Can you give me an example of a recent idea that was implemented and that has worked well?

Learn if people have a chance to throw their ideas in or not, if the company looks into the ideas seriously or it goes into a black hole of never implemented improvements.

When making decision related to a job search there are many factors that will influence your final choice. Some aspects are very practical like compensation and benefits or the commute. Others are subjective and more emotional such as the culture. I encourage you to take advantage of reversed behavioral-based interviewing to gather as much information about the opportunity.