The Interview

Somewhere in the land of job candidates someone thought it would be a good idea to have a few questions prepared for the interviewer, to show initiative, curiosity, and mostly to show how invested one is in the opportunity by showing how much one has prepared for the interview. No one wants to draw a blank and feel that awkward lump in the throat when the interviewer asks, "So, do you have any questions for me?".

Candidates have devised stock questions to remedy this, and typically write them in their padfolio ready to strike at the end of the job interview.

Good questions like:

  • Who does this position report to?
  • How many people would I be working directly with in the department?
  • Is there formal orientation and onboarding to help set new employees up for success?
  • Can you tell me about the management philosophy?

And questions that fail big time like:

  • How long do I have to wait before I can take a day off?
  • Do you monitor Internet activity?
  • Do you do drug testing?
  • Do you promote from within?

Did that last one get you? Most candidates think that asking if a company promotes from within is a great question, that it shows initiative. I have heard it more times than I could ever recall, but when I think back it hasn't been often that those were the candidates who got the job offers...

Putting the cart before the horse is flawed logic

Employers want new hires that will focus on the job they are interviewing for. Someone who is going to dig what they are hired to do. Someone who will provide a ROI on training dollars and become an expert in their position and area of accountability. Someone who is motivated but not overly ambitious, vying to conduct acoup d'etat before the annual picnic.

The other important thing to know is that this question makes little to no sense. Companies are motivated to hire solution providers where they are needed and from wherever they come. But, there's nothing better than an proven insider they know and trust, who knows the business and has acquired knowledge capital, and requires less transition time than an outsider.If you're it then you're it. If you don't become that person, that resident expert with leadership qualities who shows potential to grow into the next shirt size - asking that question will not get you anywhere. Ever.

Learning about how opportunity is managed

There are ways my friend, there are way to know how serious the company is about cream rising to the top. Here are some questions to add to the list of ones you want to ask:

  • Can you tell me about associate development programs?
  • How have employees who have done consistent exemplary work been recognized?
  • Where did the most tenured employees start and where are they now?
  • How does the company celebrate overall and individual success?
  • What is the average tenure in this position? Where do people typically go, lateral, upward or out?

Let's face it, at least in professional white collar positions, HR, Recruiters and Hiring Managers know you want a foot in the door and have aspirations of growing with the company, salary increases and even world domination. But that's your agenda, not theirs. When it comes to the interview, you are in the seat to see if you can solve the current pain point, not replace the manager who is likely interviewing you.

If you are curious about how long it takes to move up, I would say the answer is that unless you are interviewing for a college recruiting corporate management training program with a defined timeline and intention to grow you into management from the get go, it depends on a few factors:

  • Future leadership attrition (unknown - though there may be trends that won't be disclosed to you)
  • Future corporate growth (unknown - though hopefully projected)
  • Your future performance (if you are hired, of course)

Don't bother asking the question at the interview.

If you are really that curious, do some back channel networking with former and current employees - do some research on LinkedIn and glassdoor.



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