Nail the Interview

8 revealing questions to ask at your next interview

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Have you got any questions? You know you are going to be given the opportunity to ask questions at some point during an interview, or the interview will be a two-way conversation and you will be asking questions all of the way through. What I would like to share is a selection of questions that will tell your interviewer a lot about you as well as telling you a lot about your prospective company.

success

Measuring success

Every company, team and sometimes role will have ways of defining and measuring success. The most common ways are KPI which for most companies will include revenue, profit and a host of others. The team you’re interviewing for will also have KPIs so why not start by asking:

  • Which KPIs matter most to the team?
  • Which KPIs are the priority for improvement right now?
  • Which KPIs would you expect this role to directly influence?

A lot will be revealed if these are answered. Does the team have clarity on which metrics they are influencing and which need improving? How healthy is this team right now? Is there an ‘everything needs improving’ mentality or a more targeted and considered approach to performance management.

You know you are going to be given the opportunity to ask questions at some point during an interview. What I would like to share is a selection of questions that will tell your interviewer about you as well as telling you a about the prospective company.Click To Tweet

What you are also signally is your willingness to measure performance and be measured. There are measurement resistant people out there and you don’t want to be one if you want to progress.

Clarity on goals

Having clarity on which measurements matter is a great starting point. Having a goal planning cadence and clarity on which goals matter most in the next step. Lots of teams struggle to achieve this with common issues being not being able to prioritise and setting too many. The result of this is less gets achieved as efforts are directed towards less important goals. Good questions to ask would include:

  • How often do you set team goals?
  • Who sets goals for the team?
  • How many goals does the team currently have?
  • Which framework does the team use to set goals?

If your team sets goals annually that would indicate they are slow-moving and not especially agile. There’s also a good chance you could be working on irrelevant activities as a lot changes across the course of a year. If the cadence is quarterly that’s a much better sign as that is a balance between not constantly goal setting and not being responsive to change. There’s also a lot of benefit of prolonging focus on a high-value goal for 3-months.

If goals are set at the top and handed down with little or no involvement by the team, that could be a sign of old-school autocratic leadership. Most employees are choosing not to be managed in this way and preferring performance management processes that offer more trust, autonomy and goal and agile execution-based accountability and collaboration. 

The question of which goal-setting framework is being used is also interesting. The first possible answer is there isn’t one or ‘targets are added to a spreadsheet’. For teams that do set goals, two popular methods are OKRs and SMART goals. You can read more about OKRs vs SMART goals here.

If the company is using the increasingly popular OKR framework used by Google and pretty much the whole technology sector, they are likely to value:

  • Transparency – everyone sees everyone’s goals and there are no silos
  • Ambition – OKRs are scored to be hard by default but don’t worry, 100% is not the definition of success, read more about OKR grading here.
  • Agility – agile teams need goals to direct their efforts and OKRs are a big favourite. OKR achievement is nearly always underpinned by weekly and bi-weekly check-in cadences where priorities, problems and wins are openly discussed and shared.

Missed Goals

There are not many teams that hit all of their goals all of the time. How missed goals are looked upon and treated will tell you a lot about a company. Here is a good question to ask:

  • If you set a goal and it’s missed, what happens next?

Really good teams are not afraid to set the bar high and stretch themselves. This means they also can’t be afraid of failure or at least not hitting the mark. The ideal answer is to see any missed goals as learning opportunities through a process of reflection and discussion. The wrong answer that might not be revealed at an interview is there’s a post-mortem, people shout and sometimes people lose their jobs. Living in a culture of fear is always going to be a place to avoid.

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