It takes two to tango, even in an interview


Getting hired is a moment of joy and one to be remembered in most people’s lives, be it a fresher or an experienced hand. Except if they belong to the ilk which possesses the inborn urge to set out their own path, regardless of any field.

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Most hires emerge as butterflies out of the cocoon called the Interview. Quite evident from the term itself, an interview is a session to know about each other’s views (inter-view). Maximilian Schell, the Oscar-winning Swiss actor, elucidated it beautifully when he said, “I just think the word interview, although it is the view between two people exchanged, became a sort of cliché. You ask questions and the other one answers.” But it is quite interesting to note that most candidates who get to the room fail to understand that an interview isn’t merely about tearing away the questions thrown at them. It also involves questioning the interviewer in turn to better understand the firm and the role before taking up the job.

So what questions do you raise to get the person in front of you gleaming with appreciation? Surprise them and present a strong case for getting yourself on the company’s payroll. As LA based journalist and author Hector Tobar said, “As a professional journalist, I've been interviewing people for almost thirty years. And the one thing I've learned from all those interviews is that I am always going to be surprised.”

People commonly tend to lean more towards clarifying the roles and responsibilities the job entails (an acceptable reservation to be cleared), the ‘package’ (which I think should be discussed strictly upon receipt of the offer), the perks, and the working hours (again, something to avoid).

Far more important aspects of work, including the organisational setup, the work ethics, and the employee culture, play an invaluable role in determining one’s fit into the firm. The questions you ask should touch upon such aspects. For instance:

What would be the chain of hierarchy in making an organisational decision?

This would give you an idea of the swiftness with which operations take place. A place reeking of lethargy would not be preferred since businesses require quick and effective action in this age of cutthroat competition.

What would be the contribution of the job applied for in the holistic scheme of things, at present and in the immediate future?

This will let you understand the importance of the post and thereby provide a window into the scope of work that could be carried out over the short and long term. You also become aware of the necessary skills and expertise required for the given job.

What are the employee upgradation programmes available, both at the professional and personal level?

This is a vital piece of information to understand how the job can make you a better individual, both in terms of work and also in terms of increasing your knowledge and soft skills in a particular or a variety of areas. Simply put, it lets you understand the firm’s contribution to the employee’s learning curve.

What is the outlook of the company towards employees brainstorming ideas and the implementation of the same?

A company is solely run only by people’s ideas and their subsequent execution. Hence, this question can give a good insight into the respect attached to the proposals and suggestions provided by employees. It will also give you a feel about the attitude of the superiors to the subordinates. By now, you could gain a fair understanding of the company. This sets the stage for the next question.

What is the most important aspect of the company culture that sets it apart from competitors?

This provides you with the crucial cultural aspect of the firm that is held in high esteem by the management. It will also help you take a call on working there. Identifying with the organisation’s values and its vision and mission and believing in its cause is essential in achieving a good performance at work.

These questions can help you assess the job and decide whether to stay put or to back out after the interview, regardless of its result. As American comedian and actress Joan Rivers stated, “You've gotta understand interview, it's not an interrogation. It's not the Nuremberg Trials.”