Career

How to Form Interview Questions That Will Best Serve Your Job Hunt

For a long time, I thought interviews were a time and place for only me to prove I was the perfect candidate. Although, yes, it is important to show that you’re right for the role. It is just as important (if not, more) for you to learn if the company and role will be a good fit for you. Here are three things that will help you form interview questions to best serve you on your job hunt.

You know what they say about the importance of writing things down! So I created this free workbook. Download and print it and we can work through each step together!

1. Establish your end-goal

Why this is important:

When you work in an industry where you can define your own path, finding your next step can be confusing. For example, let’s say you want to become a CMO. Unlike becoming a doctor or CPA, there’s isn’t a clear cut path for you to get there. So, the best thing for you to do is start with where you want to end and work back from there.

Here’s how:

  • Write down your dream job
  • Work backward
    • what job do you need right before you can get your dream job? What job will you need to get that job? Keep doing this until you’ve reached the entry-level position. Once you’ve done this, you have your career roadmap! This will help you find the jobs that help you get to your next step.
  • Look up job descriptions for this entry-level position
  • Write down common themes
    • maybe you need people management experience. If so, is there a specific size?
    • maybe you need experience managing budgets. If so, how much?
    • tasks
    • responsibilities

Pro tip: Just because you’ve created a roadmap, doesn’t mean it needs to be set in stone. Things can change and that’s okay. If after a year, your dream job has changed, simply redo do this step. Then refer to this blog post on four questions to ask before you quit your job.

How this helps you develop interview questions:

This step can even help you before you start the interview process. It will help with your job hunt process because your roadmap will give you a clearer idea of the types of jobs/tasks you need to be doing.

It also helps you once you’ve started the interview process. When employers write a job description, they need it to sound interesting to attract good candidates to the role. Because you’ve created a roadmap, you know what you need to take the next steps in your career. As a result, you’ll be able to ask clarifying questions about the tasks and responsibilities listed in the job posting. This shows the employer that you’re thinking through the day-to-day tasks and that you understand what it takes to get the job done. You’ll also be able to compare the responsibilities in the job posting to what you need in a job.

Pro tip: Sometimes your first interview will be with someone who works in HR. So you’ll want to save these questions for your interview with the hiring manager.

2. Define your core values

Why this is important

“When we get in and we stumble and fall, we need our values to remind us why we went in.”

Brene Brown in Dare to Lead
To read this blog post later, pin it!

Just in case you haven’t read this book (which I highly recommend), let me rephrase this. It’s important to define your core values because when times get tough at a company, it’s your values that remind you why you chose to work in the profession you are in. 

Let’s say you end up working for a company whose values don’t align with yours. When times get tough, you’ll find yourself looking for the purpose of you getting your work done. Instead of using 100% of your effort to get your job done, some of your energy will be spent looking for your purpose. 

However, when you work for a company whose values and beliefs align with yours, you’ll be able to focus on your job while staying true to what is important to you.

How to:

  1. Print out a list of values. You can either Google “core values list” or (if you haven’t already) you can download the FREE workbook that goes along with this blog post.
  2. Read through the list and cross out any values that don’t automatically resonate with you
  3. Group the words that are similar to each other. Then choose the one that most resonates with you
  4. Pick the two you hold most important

Pro tip: Looking up the exact definition of each word can help you distinguish which one most resonates with you

Brene Brown says that your values shouldn’t feel like a choice. They should feel like they are a part of you.

How this helps you develop interview questions:

Write down questions that will help you discover an employer’s values.

Example of interview questions:

My two core values are gratitude and personal fulfillment. Here are questions I would ask during an interview:

  • Is success and achievement celebrated at this company and/or within this team? If so, how?
    • If the interviewer mentions something along the lines of showing employees how grateful they are for their work, I know that gratitude might be a top priority.
  • When was the last time, your boss thanked you for a job well done? And when was the last time you thanked someone else for doing a good job?
    • This is a question I like to ask when I have back-to-back, one-on-one interviews with the team I’d be working with if I got the job. If the average answer was that it happened recently, I know that showing gratitude could be a top priority.
  • What programs are in place for employee growth?
    • If a company is willing to invest in their employees, I know that personal fulfillment is also probably a top priority
  • Is this a new role? If not, where did the person in the role previously go?
    • Sometimes, I’ve learned that the employee went somewhere else in the organization or got a promotion. If this is the case, this could be a clue that there is room for an employee to grow. And in my book, growth is needed for personal fulfillment.

Pro tip: Remember that asking questions about a company’s core values is like trying to find an average. You have to ask more questions to get a clearer idea.

3. List everything you need to accept a job offer

I know that we are just talking about the interview process right now. But before you go to an interview, you need to know what it will take for you to accept the job offer. There is a possibility that they could offer you the job on the spot.

Since you probably don’t need a how-to on writing everything you could ever want from a company, I’ve listed some examples to help you get the ball rolling. Once you have a list, you’ll need to rank these from most important to least important.

Examples of what you might need/want:

  • Stronger or different title
  • What is the minimum amount you can work for?
  • Commuter or parking benefits
  • PTO and/or sick days
  • Ability to work from home
  • Flexibility to stray from the regular 9-5 hours
  • Overtime pay
  • Medical/Dental insurance
  • 401k
  • Based on your research, are there responsibilities you’d like to add or remove?

How this helps you develop interview questions:

Although you don’t want to immediately bring up pay and benefits (unless the interviewer brings them up first), asking questions about the perks reveal a lot about the company’s culture.

Here are a couple of interview question examples:

  • When do people tend to leave and enter the office?
    • The answer to this can give you an idea of whether or not there are flexible hours. Sometimes you can even find out if people work from home.
  • How do you commute to work?
    • If the company offers commuter benefits, this is often a part of the answer.
    • If many people take public transportation, it could be a sign that the company’s happy hours or events are well attended.

[Bonus] This also helps with negotiation! The list of everything you want and need in a company will help you determine your bottom line and the nice-to-haves. Here’s everything you need to know about negotiating a new job offer.

Remember that by asking you to come in for an interview, it shows that the company is interested in you. And it’s better to discover a job isn’t a good fit at the interview than when you’ve already started.

If you haven’t already, check out the free workbook that will help you work through the steps outlined in this blog post. Download it, print it out, close your laptop (who doesn’t love a chance to unplug?), and get to work! 🙂

Thanks so much for reading this blog post! I hope it’s helped you create interview questions that will best serve you in your job hunt. If you have any questions feel free to reach out through this online form. Or, if you have additional advice for creating interview questions, comment below!

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