Don't Let Smoke Get In Your Eyes: Ask Questions On The Interview

I have had a long and rocky career.  Most of it was quite successful, and found support and energy from my supervisors.  However, I also have failed miserably, and after I got finished beating myself up about my failures, I went back and analyzed why.

In every instance, I didn't listen to my gut.  I was so excited about the job, the industry, I never really listened to my feelings about my immediate supervisor.  Moreover, I took some risks with positions that were less than stellar because I wanted to be in a particular industry.

I can remember, very recently, interviewing for a position where I was told "do not ask questions," I am the interviewer, and I am interviewing you."  No, no no!

Most good human resource managers' will agree that the interview process is as much your business as it is the interviewer.  I now know that if someone tells me not to ask the questions, a red flag goes up.

The point is that few candidates' listen to their inner voice with regard to their feelings about their working environment.  Perhaps the money is good, the industry is what they want, and they minimize the importance of the dynamics of their relationship with their immediate supervisor.

One of my biggest failures -could have been avoided - if I walked away from a job that I really wanted. I knew was not the right fit for me. I went in for a couple of interviews, all from supervisors' who would not work directly with me.

When my immediate supervisor interviewed me, it was at a rapid fire pace.  She explained the job, and her expectations, in five minutes.  Moreover, she told me that nobody from the organization had even asked her what her about the type of candidate she felt would best suit the position.

I didn't feel good about this remark, but let it slide anyway.  In the five minutes I spent with her, which was to be my final interview, I felt as though the interview was an intrusion on her time.

I was offered the position, but it was a bust from the beginning.

 I had already failed as the chemistry was not there between us, and I was off to a bad start.

I had been out of this particular industry for some time.  The organization wanted a band-aid candidate to just have a warm body on site.  There was no start-up time for learning.  I was expected to hit the ground running.

Another red flag.

My job skills were rusty, and I asked if there would be training.  I was told that yes, absolutely, I would receive training.

Realty set in when I got a 45 minute phone session from someone in the New York market.  That was the extent of the training.  During the training, the "trainer" yawned on the conference, as if she was straining to stay awake.

Not very professional at all.

Today, as difficult as it may be, I would ask more direct questions about the position, instead of assuming I could hit the ground running.   While skills are most important, I won't let anyone dissuade me from believing that chemistry with your co-workers and immediate supervisor can make or break you.

So, the next time you go in for that dream job, have a list ready of the most critical questions you have for taking on the position.  If you're concerned, like I was, about on the job training; ask about how much training you will get.  I certainly would also ask what the timeline is for getting up to speed in your new position.

It can make the difference between success and failure in your new role within the company.

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