Interviews can be stressful for some and even enjoyable to others – it just depends on your perception of what you hope to achieve from them. Clearly you are hoping to be offered a job but that is not always the case; the interview should be a two way setting and often the candidate loses sight of this. I have been in interviews where I have known quite quickly that it is not the role for me, and walked away from interviews wondering if I actually would welcome an offer – therefore it is important to make sure you know if this is the one for you.
Most formal interviews will consist of an introduction from the interviewer followed by a series of questions presented to the candidate to understand how you work and react in situations, towards the end of the interview you will be presented with the opportunity to ask questions back. This is where some good planning comes into play; you need to think outside the box as the interviewer should answer a lot of questions in their introduction. A trap, a lot of candidates fall into is to respond with “I think you have answered everything I was going to ask” – this can come across as a lack of real interest in the business / role and can put interviewers off you.
Here are a few questions you may find useful to note down for future interviews:
- What does the actual day to day work involve? (bearing in mind Project Management makes for constant change, there will still be core duties required of you)
- What do you enjoy most about working here?
- What are the main challenges the team / projects face at the moment?
- Have you identified any weaknesses in the team; are these something you would like me to address from the start?
- What do you think it might take to be really successful in this role?
- Could you talk me through the management style here?
- Do you have any specific projects in mind that the successful candidate will be working on?
- Is it likely I will be working as part of a team and are the staff involved in different projects at any one time?
- Does the business encourage employees to study and gain professional qualifications? What kind of support is in place?
- What kind of backgrounds personally and professionally do the existing team have?
And to round up:
- When can I expect to hear from you with a decision and do you usually call or write to let candidates know the outcome?
- Would it be possible to gain some feedback from you regardless of the outcome?
- Have I answered everything thoroughly enough for you or is there anything else you would like to ask me?
I recommend writing a list of questions to ask – always write down more than you need in case some are already covered by the interviewer (some interviewers are more thorough than others). Avoid any questions about pay, holidays, benefits, sick leave, hours of work etc as this can give a bad impression – these questions will be answered at the offer stage (if you get that far). Once you have a list of questions, place them in a folder and when you are asked for questions do remember your manners and ask if it is OK to refer to the list you prepared prior to the interview.