Become the Interviewer in Your Job Search

21 Feb

Job-Interview-jpg-V2Make the decision that you will not stress out or over think your next job interview. Keep in mind that the interview process is a two-way street — a win-win situation for both you and the prospective employer. Realize that once you’re invited to interview for the position, you have crossed the employer’s threshold of phase one. Know that you were selected because you represented yourself as experienced, skilled, and qualified for the advertised position.

Nailing phase two is up to you. This is where the transformation begins. You must become the interviewer. Mentally switching places — changing from interviewee to interviewer — means being adequately prepared, having confidence in your abilities, and keeping your eyes on the prize. There might have been hundreds of resumes and applications for this one position. More than likely, the search was narrowed to three finalists, which included you. Now is not the time to do the proverbial war dance. Now is the time to ratchet up your research of the employer and do due diligence on every aspect of the organization, its board if there’s one, and its leadership/executive staff. You cannot duplicate similar mistakes as in past interviews, in which you were not successful in getting a job offer. You must do more than reread online advice or listen to your coach dictating how to present yourself. You must compartmentalize all the instructions given about what to say and what not to ask during the job interview. Know that the do’s and don’ts of interview preparation are only reference points. Harness your heightened level of anxiety to quash unnecessary nervousness.

Realize that you convinced yourself, whether consciously or unconsciously, realistically or unrealistically, that you must have that job; that you need the job! Either situation may be true. However, your body language doesn’t have to emit an SOS signaling your distress. Don’t have DESP ERAT ION tattooed on your forehead.

If you secure that sacred invitation to interview, definitely prepare; but prepare in a structured manner. Have your ducks in a row so to speak. You already know you are the right candidate for the job. All you need to determine is if the employer is the right fit for you. Simply put, take charge of your career.

Now is the time to turn the tables — make the interviewer the interviewee. What do you have to lose? You’ve already sat through a half-dozen interviews with different employers — and still no luck. You’ve read the “How to Interview” books, the “How to Dress” books, and anything you could get your hands on about the interview process — the correct way to shake hands, how to hold eye contact, the correct questions to ask. Your skills, qualifications, and experience were impeccable and complementary to the position. Your written and oral communications skills are superb. The job appeared created with you in mind. You left those interviews feeling proud of yourself. You knew you nailed it. You sent the required thank you note. Yet, there was no job offer forthcoming. Not even a “no thank you” letter. You don’t understand what went wrong. You beat yourself up psychologically, and go over and over in your mind every aspect of the interview trying to figure out what you said or didn’t say. You can’t believe you weren’t the candidate selected — once again.

It’s time to step out of your comfort zone. It’s time to stop being afraid. When asked at the end of the interview if you have any questions, this is the time you become the interviewer. Ask questions that demonstrate you are also determining if this organization is the right fit for you. Even if you found the answers to some questions during your diligent research, still ask them. There’s always the possibility that you may hear a different answer.

  • Is this a newly created position?
    • If yes, what factors played into the determination that this position was needed?
    • If no, what happened to the previous person in the position?
      • Was he/she promoted (if yes, then there are opportunities)?
      • Did the employee leave on good terms? If yes, is it possible to speak to the person about the position? If no, then you will have to come to your own conclusion since legally the employer is not allowed to speak negatively about the employee.
    • What did you like best about the last employee in this position? What did you like least?
    • How long was the last employee in the position?
    • Were there any lessons learned?
  • What is the organization’s turnover rate? (Very important. You don’t want to go to an organization if there is a revolving door — employees leaving in droves).
  • Has the company had a layoff, reduction in force, reorganization in the last five years? If so, how many?
    • What were the reasons?
    • Does the organization expect another layoff or reorganization in the next two to three years? (You do not want to work for a company that is laying off every two to four years).
  • What is the diversity makeup in the company’s leadership ranks and board (race, age, gender, nationality, sexual orientation)? Determine upfront if the company’s culture is a good fit?
    • Ask if the company has a short- or long-term action plan that highlights the importance of diversity in the organization.
  • Google the company’s 990 for the last three to five years. If the company’s revenues are steadily declining, ask about it and ask what the company is doing to turn itself around.
  • What is the organization’s leadership style? Do all managers follow this leadership style?
  • Is the company innovative, tech savvy? Are employees allowed to take risks?
  • What’s the company’s attitude toward work-life balance? Is the organization properly staffed? Is the ratio of workload realistic to the number of employees?
  • You’ve read the company’s mission or vision statement. Ask what the company’s strengths are and what its weaknesses are? What is the company doing to overcome any weaknesses?
  • Ask if the organization has done an employee survey in the last two years? What was the outcome? Has any changes been implemented based on the outcomes? What are the employees’ overall satisfaction with the organization?
  • Ask employer why you should accept the position if offered? The employer often asks why the company should hire you.
  • Ask the prospective supervisor to list five words that describe his/her leadership style. The answer to this question will offer you an insight into the leader’s management style and whether your two styles will complement each others.
  • Ask what type of performance evaluations are done and how often? It’s important to know whether it’s a top-down review or a 360 degree feedback.

Turning the tables puts you in the driver’s seat. When you’re in charge of your career, you can make the decisions regarding whether an employer and its culture are the right fit for you, not the other way around.

(Picture Source:


Posted by on February 21, 2013 in Employment, People


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4 responses to “Become the Interviewer in Your Job Search

  1. Lisa

    February 21, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    Did I write you? Because this blog must be for me! I love, love, oh, and did I say, love the list of questions. Too many of us interview as if we are in the passenger seat. Shoot, I may have even been the backseat driver. This blog has definitely helped me to feel empowered!

    • Gwen Pegram

      February 22, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Thank you so much. You know, I haven’t tried this out yet but only because I’m not presently looking for a job. However, the moment I seriously start my search, I am definitely following my own advice. I really am sick of reading the same old boring advice about how to conduct oneself during an interview. And, my question — is it working? So, I can’t wait to hear from someone who took me up on the challenge.

      It’s nice to hear that my blog made you feel empowered. You know, sometimes that’s all the push one needs. Good luck.

  2. jumbledwriter

    February 22, 2013 at 12:56 am

    This is a great post. I especially like the opening line about thinking of the interview as a benefit for both employee and employer. I have never seen it that way before.

  3. Gwen Pegram

    February 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Thank you.


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