It’s always fun to read the crazy interview questions that companies like Google and Facebook ask during the hiring process; but, some of the most important questions actually come from the interviewee and not the interviewer. After all, the interviewee has to make sure the company is right for them, too!
So, as the class of 2015 prepares to graduate and interview for jobs, here are some questions they may want to arm themselves with that are often overlooked. And, while this is the PR edition, many of these questions apply across any industry.
- What is the day-to-day like for this position?
Obviously you’ll want to know what you’d be doing if you get the job, but take this one step further and ask if there will be an opportunity to talk to someone who is currently in the role you’re applying for. When interviews are conducted by the HR or management team, they’re often a bit more removed from the day-to-day of the role they’re hiring for, so this is a good tip.
- Do you work in siloed teams or would I have the opportunity to work with everyone in the company?
In PR, siloed teams are very common within agencies. So, even if you’re applying for a job at a company that has 50 people, you may wind up only working with five of them! You may be pigeonholed into a division that only focuses on one technology, industry or client; so, if you’re seeking diversity, this is a key question to ask.
- How would you describe the company atmosphere?
Hopefully it’ll be described as supportive, friendly and motivational. But, hopefully the interviewers are honest and transparent about things like stress levels and demanding hours, too. If not, ask. It’s important to get the full picture upfront.
- What do you think are the advantages of joining a company of your size versus one smaller/larger?
This one is important, especially if you’re interviewing at multiple places so you can consider each response in relation to the others. For PR, many smaller agencies may describe their advantages as being able to be exposed to much more from the get go, or having more direct access to senior management and mentors. On the other hand, larger PR agencies may tout their formalized training programs or perks. In line with this, you may want to ask about the differences between working “in-house” for one company versus at an agency for many clients. It’ll be up to you which scenario appeals to you more.
- How much opportunity is there to move up within the company?
Assuming you’re looking for a career and not just a job, this is important to look at from a career trajectory stand point. Where do you want to be in five years? Could you get there with this company?
- How do performance reviews work?
Every company evaluates employee performance, but some do it only on a yearly basis and that’s when promotions occur as well. Others may do it more frequently and promote based on merit, whenever they deem it’s deserved. It could be a casual process or more formalized system that can provide you with specific feedback of what to work on. Learning how you’ll be evaluated will be important to achieving your desired career path.
- Does your company have plans to adapt to the changing industry landscape?
This one will likely impress. But, be warned. If you ask this question, they will likely come back with a question for you like, “what changes are you referring to?” Arming yourself with a quick Google search beforehand will help. For PR, this may be referencing the shift to more content development or more digital services. They may be reluctant to give away too much of their company roadmap to a job candidate, but it’ll be important to identify a company that can evolve with the changing times and won’t die out by sticking to old techniques.
So, while seemingly irrelevant interview questions like, “If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jelly beans, what would you do?” may give interviewers some deep insight into your untapped potential, remember, it’s a two-way street. Prospective candidates have to ensure the company is a good fit for them, just as much as the company has to determine if the candidates will make good hires.