So you’ve read the job description and you think, “this sounds like the perfect job for me!” That might be absolutely true, but you won’t know for sure until your interviews with the hiring manager and company. During those interviews, you’ll gain even more insight into the behavior and culture of your potential next gig.
Here are 5 interview questions that, if you're asked, will reveal more about the reality of the position than the job description:
1. Let’s say two different teams need something at the same time. How do you prioritize your workload?
Two things: first, you should expect that you’ll be put in this position by this company—the position is apparently so important, you will be in high demand here. Second, your answer will tell them if you’re a team player who feels confident they can tackle anything on their own and ask for help when needed from, say, a project manager. Feel free to use this as a time to ask more questions about the structure of how assignments are assigned so you can get a clear picture of what you’d do, or not do, in this situation.
2. Describe a time when you needed to persuade someone to accept your point of view on a project. How did it go?
Anyone who’s had to pitch their creative work, like in an agency setting, will know that this is a part of the job. But if you’ve never worked at an agency, this might be a new skill that this particular job requires (even if it’s not an agency). Some creative teams work as in-house agencies, pitching one another and marketing teams as though they’re clients. Use this as a time to ask how the team works, and if they require you to create pitch decks and defend your work regularly. You’ll need to be cool with that if they offer you the job.
3. Tell me about a time when you clashed with a coworker. What was the outcome?
Jobs with naturally competitive natures will tend to breed a culture of critique and the constant need to improve as a team. This type of culture isn’t necessarily a bad thing—you’ll just need to decide whether or not it’s for you. Take the time to ask them a similar question to see how their experience compares with yours. Their answer will tell you a bit more about the culture and whether or not it’s a place you can envision yourself working for.
4. Tell me about a time when you weren't able to get all of the info you needed on a project. How did you resolve the situation?
This question expects you to prove how you’re a go-getter who is comfortable with taking initiative and, if necessary, thinking on the fly. They’re wondering how creative you can get at fixing issues. But what they’re not mentioning is that you may be expected to make lemonade… without the lemons. Answer the best you can, but also ask them how they organize their projects. What are their briefs like? How many people are involved in any given project? Does the team have a project manager that will go to bat for you? Or are you also expected to project manage yourself? Also, ask them about times they wanted to achieve something great but had to work with very little (you get the idea). These are all highly important questions that you can't get the answers to from a job description.
5. Describe a time when you were asked to perform a duty that was not in your job description. What was it and what was the outcome?
Again, they want to know that you’re a team player. They might also be asking you if you’re okay with filling in for others when necessary. In smaller teams, and especially in startups, this type of culture is not only accepted—it’s somewhat expected. With all that unlimited vacation that’s promised, you can bet it probably comes with the cost of working two jobs while someone is away. We’re not talking about someone filling in for another person in the same field. We’re talking about asking UX designers to write code or copywriters to project manage a team, you know, skill sets that are actually outside of your required duties. You’ll have to decide for yourself if helping the company by going beyond your job description is really something you’re down to do occasionally. If not, this might not be the right company for you.
These are just a handful of questions to look out for when assessing whether or not the job itself is being accurately described during interviews. We advise that you do as much digging as you can about the company, whether that’s reading reviews on Glassdoor or messaging employees you know who already work for the company. Also, ask all the possible questions you can before getting and accepting an offer. Hopefully, all of these steps along with your own intuition will help you land the job that’s right for you.
Speaking of, are you looking for your next gig? We can help!