Interviewing the Job Interviewer: 3 Essential Moves to Empower Yourself


Interviewing the job interviewer is needed to make sure the job is a good fit.

When most experts talk about job interviews, they talk about impressing the job interviewer. From how you should prepare for the interview, how to answer tricky questions and what to wear.

All of this can make you feel powerless.

It’s time to flip the script and put yourself in a place of power.

    Job interviews give you the opportunity to discover if you and your new employer will be a good match. This means you have the power to decide if the job interviewer and company meet your expectations.

    They have to impress you. You already have a job. You don’t need them, you want to find the right fit, not the fit for right now.

    How to Interview the Job Interviewer

    Find out as much as you can about a job by interviewing the job interviewer

    1. Learn About Company Culture.

    If the culture doesn’t fit, you’ll want to quit. Experts define company culture is a set of beliefs, values, work styles and relationships that are unique to that organization. If you enjoy the freedom to work autonomously, a highly structured workplace may not be the best fit.

    How to Find Out More About a Company’s Culture.

    You have to research the company and its customers. Look at the website and other media. Check out the physical location of the business and interact with employees if you can. For instance, if you want to work for a restaurant chain, go the restaurant and observe.

    How do employees interact with customers? What are they wearing? How do employees interact with each other? Get a feel for the culture and see if it meshes with your values and work style.

    Questions to Ask the Job Interviewer About the Company Culture:

    1. What three words would employees use to describe the overall culture here?
    2. How would you describe the executive leadership’s relationship with employees?
    3. What policies do you have regarding dress code, work hours and working from home?
    4. I’ve read that this company values (fill in value i.e. creativity, teamwork, a buttoned-up approach to projects …). What are your expectations of (value) for this position?
    5. You’ve been here X years, what is it about this company that I won’t find anywhere else?

    2. Weigh Your Chances for Job Satisfaction.

    In order to confidently interview the job interviewer, you have to be confident in who you are and what you can offer the company.

    You have to know what makes you tick. What are your strengths and how do they coincide with the strengths this company values its employees?

    Are your priorities geared towards helping others or opportunities for advancement?

    You also want to tune-in to what your potential new boss wants from you. What are his or her priorities? For instance, the hiring manager might value punctuality and following the rules without questions. He or she wants someone to depend on, not fresh ideas.

    You may have different ideas of what a good employee is. This could be a dealbreaker, especially if you prioritize innovation over falling in line.

    Some people are content with a position so long as it enables them to pursue outside interests. Is the workload too challenging? Do you prefer to have more time for family and friends?

    Questions to Ask the Job Interviewer About the Position:

    1. Can you describe the work-life balance and what the company does to encourage it?
    2. What are your priorities and expectations for meeting those priorities for this position?
    3. How would you describe your supervisory style? (Most managers are going to say they are cool, not a micromanager. Watch the body language.)
    4. When I’m at work I place a large emphasis on (strength i.e. customer service, analyzing data, solving tough problems) because I really enjoy it. Can you tell me about the opportunities for doing that kind of work here?
    5. What opportunities for advancement come with this position?

    3. Does This Job Meet Your Career Goals?

    Interviewing the Job Interviewer - Looking down the road, does this job  meet your career goals?

    Don’t sacrifice your career goals for the right now. You have to consider your career path.

    Too many times we take a job because we need a job. We settle. We pigeonhole our professional life into a dead-end cubicle. Why? Because we didn’t think ahead.

    Sure life happens, but remember that you are the boss of your career. If this job interviewer can’t support your goals, then you have to move on. Don’t wait around for a rejection letter.

    Before you step into another job interview or send out another online application, Plan your future. Figure out where you want to be in 5 to 10 years so you’ll know if the next job interview is going to get you there.

    Questions to Ask Yourself About the Future

    1. Is this job an opportunity to grow my skills or will I stagnate?
    2. Do you see yourself working here for 5 or 10 years? Why?
    3. Does this company support your short-term and long-term career goals?
    4. Does the compensation package and benefits cover current and future needs? I.e. retirement plan and health insurance.

    7 Tips for Gathering Information About the Job Interviewer

    Gather information from the job interviewer by keeping the conversation going.

    1. Stay on Topic

    Know your top priorities and stick to relevant subjects. It will make the best use of the limited time you get during the interviewing process.

    2. Create a Conversation

    From now on, think of job interviews are a conversation between two people rather than an audition. With this mindset, you’re likely to feel more relaxed and perform better. Keep the conversation going with a few of the questions in this post.

    3. Ask Open-ended Questions

    An old newspaper reporter trick is to avoid asking yes-no questions. You want the person to think and talk. Encourage stories and concrete examples like how a major challenge got handled or describing why someone was recognized as employee of the month.

    4. Follow up on What the Job Interviewer Says

    Listening is a big part of developing a rapport with your job interviewer. If he or she says something that you want to know more about, ask questions to get more information.

    5. Have a Pokerface

    Here’s another journalist trick — stay neutral but interested. You are trying to get the truth out of the interviewer, not the sales pitch. Sometimes we make comments that lead people to give us the answers we want to hear rather than the unvarnished truth.

    Try to remain neutral so the person you are talking to will be candid. Don’t react to what they say. Try to leave a pause between what they say and your response. Some people don’t like silence and will keep talking to fill it.

    6. Take Notes

    Go in prepared with written questions so you’ll look professional and remember to cover everything. Jot down essential points so you can review them after.

    7. Get More Than One View.

    Chat up the receptionist to get a feel for the office. Ask your interviewer for the opportunity to meet your future co-workers. Someone in your network may know an employee or former employee.

    Don’t think of job interviews as a time when you are in the hot seat. Use the meetings to get all the facts you need to determine if the job is right for you. This approach does two things. First, it takes the pressure off of you. This what can you do for me vibe comes across as confident and relaxed. Secondly, a wise employer will see that you took the initiative to get the information you need to evaluate a new position.

    Win-win.

    Good luck and flip the script!

    Tracey Lamphere

    Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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