Career and Jobs

Why You Must Ask Hard-Hitting Questions In The Job Interview

The Sudden Change In The Job Market

When you are seeking out a new job, ask tough questions during the interview. The goal is to find out the truth of what is really going on at the company. Rising inflation, war, higher costs, supply chain disruptions, layoffs and an increase in interest rates will take their toll on the economy. Moving forward, it won’t be so easy to find a new job.

The blazingly hot job market—in the tech sector, venture capital-backed startups and cryptocurrency space—abruptly cooled down. About 17,000 jobs were cut in the tech sector. Plummeting cryptocurrency prices led to large layoffs in the digital asset space. Coinbase, one of the top cryptocurrency platforms, recently laid off about 1,100 people and rescinded job offers made to candidates. Their reasoning, in part, was due to current market conditions, and concerns about future events, deeming it fiscally prudent to cut back on hiring. BlockFi, Crypto.com, and Gemini along with other crypto companies collectively cut about two thousand jobs in what was called a “crypto winter.”

The sudden change in fortunes is a cautionary tale for job hunters. The takeaway is that you can no longer blindly place your faith in companies and their pitch. Their public relations teams boast of how well they’re doing. On social media, everything looks great. To gain a real understanding of what is happening beneath the surface, you’ll need to dig deep behind the hype.

Trust But Verify The Veracity Of What People Say

The vast majority of human resource professionals, recruiters and others involved with the hiring process are decent and honorable folks. They seek to attract, recruit, onboard and retain top talent. This doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Everyone has a vested interest in the hiring process.

Recruiters want to make a placement and earn their juicy commission fees. In-house corporate talent acquisition recruiters need to fill seats and appease the hiring managers who are complaining to their bosses that they are not getting a sufficient flow of suitable and appropriate candidates within the allotted budget.

The reality of business is that people sometimes cut corners and shade the truth. For example, real estate salespeople extol the virtues of the home they are showcasing, but conveniently forget to mention the twenty-year-old roof leaks, the basement floods when there is a rainstorm, and the next-door neighbors throw loud, wild parties every weekend. Similarly, recruiters, human resources, hiring managers and others involved in the hiring process may ‘inadvertently’ leave out some of the downsides to working at the company.

Avoiding Job Switch Regrets

During the height of the Great Resignation when four million Americans quit their jobs on a near-monthly basis, people succumbed to the fear of missing out (FOMO) and felt the social pressure to switch jobs to keep up with their colleagues who’ve bragged about how much money the received with their new job offer.

Several surveys showed that people regretted their job switches within 90-days. The regret could have been due to recruiters, interviewers and hiring managers providing too rosy of a picture in an effort to attract applicants when the market was hot. Job hunters may have overlooked landmines as the FOMO blinded them in their pursuit of gaining a substantial increase in compensation when changing jobs. In hindsight, many job hoppers realized too late that they should have conducted more due diligence about the new opportunities.

They didn’t question or push back on the wonderful things the recruiters, interviewers and hiring managers told them. For an extra several thousand dollars, they dove headfirst into the deep end of the pool, without really knowing how to swim.

Questions For Human Resources

To ensure that you don’t later lament a change in jobs, it is imperative to ask tough questions in the interviews. Understandably, it places you in an uncomfortable position. You want to be liked by your future supervisor and not come across as too pushy or demanding. It’s reasonable that you will feel awkward by digging deep with penetrating questions that could come across as if you don’t trust the firm and are doubting their sales pitch.

In light of the anticipated slowdown in the job market, an applicant needs to know the truth about what is happening right now, and where they feel the company is headed. Some of the core basic questions when interviewing with human resources is to ask about the salary range, bonus potential and stock options. Make inquiries into whether or not there will be promotional opportunities or the possibility of pivoting within the firm in a lateral internal move.

You need to inquire about why the job is available and how long it’s been open. It could be a red flag if no one accepted the role after three to six months. A more informed decision could be made if you are told what happened to the last person who held the position. The amount of turnover within the group and overall company could be a warning sign if employees don’t stick around for too long.

It is fair and reasonable to talk about corporate culture. Find out if there is a toxic environment, are long hours demanded, does leadership support the division you’re considering joining, and are people happy and empowered.

What You Want To Know About The The Hiring Manager And Job

It’s acceptable for hiring managers to ask invasive questions about the candidate’s skills, background, education, prior experience and relationships with their boss and coworkers. The same should hold true for job hunters.

It is only fair for you to ask about your future boss. Feel free to say, “Could you please tell me about the hiring manager?” In the same way, you offer your background, the manager should share their experiences, where they went to school, how long they’ve been at the organization, are they valued by leadership, do they feel fulfilled and like their job.

The human resource department should share what is in the files of the potential supervisor. You would be better off learning upfront that the boss reprimands his team in public, has a reputation for being a bully, intimidates staff members and is known for being a mean, vindictive micromanaging tyrant. You don’t want to be surprised after a few weeks at the new job that this critical information was not provided, and you’re stuck in a precarious position. You’d have to decide to either stick it out so it doesn’t look like you jump around too much or cut your losses and resign without another job in hand.

Here Is A Short List Of Questions You Could Ask During The Hiring Process

  • What happened to the last employee who held the job?
  • Was the person terminated or offered a promotion?
  • How long has the supervisor been with the company?
  • What is the average length of stay at the company?
  • Could you please share the company’s long-term plans?
  • Does the firm offer mentoring, coaching, training and upskilling?
  • Ask about the expectations for the role, and what you need to do to succeed.
  • What are my daily routine responsibilities?
  • It would be helpful to speak with coworkers and people you’ll regularly interact with. Ask if meetings could be set up with them.
  • What are the company’s core values and principles?
  • Will there be a chance for advancement? Can you please take me through my potential career trajectory?
  • Are there set schedules for performance reviews and opportunities for receiving salary increases, especially during this time of high inflation?
  • Could you tell me about the life-work balance, and what the organization does to help with employee mental health, emotional wellbeing and burnout issues.
  • Everyone has their own work style preference. To avoid an unpleasant surprise, find out if you will be working remote, hybrid, in-office, offered flexibility, the chance to become a digital nomad, or relocating to a lower-cost location for the same pay.
  • If the job is remote, how could you make sure I won’t be perceived as a second-class citizen?
  • In a hybrid role, is there a guarantee that I won’t be forced to work in-office five days in the future?

In addition to asking questions during the interview phase, conduct a deep dive into the company. Scour the internet and social media to find out what others are saying about the organization. See if you can locate people you know who work there, and ask them if they have a couple of minutes to chat and offer insider insights.

When the job market is hot and jobs plentiful, the downside risk isn’t too great. In a robust economy you may easily land another job. When the circumstances start crumbling with runaway inflation, a likely recession, possible stagflation, announcements of downsizings and hiring freezes, you must do your homework and ask hard-hitting questions to ensure you know what you are getting into.


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