Last week Barry Hessenius sent me a link to a Buzzfeed article listing answers to job interview questions, suggesting it might make a good blog post. This suggestion was well-timed because Drew McManus had also posed a question on LinkedIn about whether cover letters were useful any more, spurring a spirited conversation among arts professionals on that topic.
Between the two, there is a lot to think about in terms of how we interview, both as employers and potential candidates. For example, in the LinkedIn discussion, Tyler Rand mentioned his company inviting people to introduce themselves by choosing from a number of formats including letters, email, personal statements, videos and showing their suitability for the position through either resumes, work samples, links to websites or LinkedIn profiles.
The Buzzfeed piece claims the list contains clever answers to tough job questions. While there are some suggestions like describing yourself in the context of your Hogwarts house and how to navigate the dreaded “what are your weaknesses” and uncomfortable salary questions, many of the tips mentioned are smart responses to typical interview questions rather than a matter of clever maneuvering.
For example asking
“What’s the biggest pain point in the company/office/on your team, and what could I do to address it if I started tomorrow?”
Can be useful in uncovering issues about the work environment that hadn’t come out during the interview, possibly revealing an organizational culture that doesn’t suit you.
“When they ask if you have any questions, ask what current/past employees in this role find the most rewarding and challenging about the position. If there are red flags, you’ll get them here. It’s basically asking the interviewer what the job’s strengths and weaknesses are but more effective.”
I have been asked a number of times what my plan for my first 90 days on the job will be, but it never occurred to me to turn it around and ask the obvious:
‘What are your 30/60/90 day goals for the role?’
I have asked what the goals for the new person might be and how my skillset might be applicable toward fulfilling them, but the X days horizon can give you a sense of top priorities and allow you to judge whether they are realistically attainable in that time period.
Anyone have any additional thoughts on obvious, but seldom asked questions or processes they feel are antiquated? Are there ways you would rather interview, both as an employer or candidate, but feel stuck in a framework of expectations? I suspect there are questions some candidates would love to ask but there is a fear of appearing too presumptuous to the prospective employer.