5 Topics Often Neglected During Interviews


By:   |   Updated: 2020-01-27   |   Comments   |   Related: More > Professional Development Interviewing

Problem

Job seekers rely on Managers and Recruiters to give them all the information about a position. For various reasons, however, many important details aren't brought up organically. Some of the most common reasons important details are unintentionally (this is key; you should assume positive intent here, and not have the belief that people are intentionally excluding details) omitted include:

  1. People simply are not aware of your exact motivators, and, as a result, don't tailor some of the information that would be really important for you to know. This may include anything from specific benefits and PTO to actual project scope or versions of technologies.
  2. Time constraint - Most conversations with Recruiters about opportunities are 10-30 minutes, and many hiring Managers are always short on time.
  3. Lack the details themselves - As former Recruiters, we both experienced job seekers who were frustrated with us because we couldn't answer specific questions about the nitty gritty of a job, team, company, expectations, etc. Trust us, we hated not being able to provide you all the details you wanted too! We simply weren't given the answers for everything.
  4. Lack of training - We share this a lot with job seekers, and it usually makes them feel a bit better about the angst they have to deal with during the job search and interview process. Please keep in mind that most Team Leads and Managers, and a lot of Recruiting companies, do not have formal training around how to write quality job descriptions and how to interview people. It might be some basic online training, or even a quick 30-minute discussion, but it's hardly as extensive as it should be.

Hopefully these reasons help you understand why important topics might be neglected in an interview, but again, it is by no means intentional!

Solution

We believe it should be "shared responsibility" between the Recruiter/Manager and the interviewee to cover all of the information that would be helpful to know about a job! However, as an interviewee and educated job seeker, you should be determining what topics are important for you to ask about, and then framing or outlining questions that address those.

Not sure where to start? Here are 5 of the most common topics we have seen not been brought up organically during an interview that we would encourage you to inquire about! 

  1. Key expectations - One of the things that shocked us early on as Recruiters was how many of our candidates called us after an interview and said something along the lines of "we didn't really get into much of the day-to-day responsibilities of what I'll be doing" or "I don't really understand the major expectations of this role." Therefore, it is so important to ask questions around the core expectations and a timeline for delivery.

    You can ask questions like "Can you help me understand what the day-to-day or weekly responsibilities for this role are?" or "What are the core project/s and application/s this role will be supporting and what are expectations around them?" or "What do you want this person to accomplish in the first month? Three months? Six months?"

     
  2. Technology stack(s) - Many Recruiters, Managers and job descriptions are great at communicating "here are the technologies we need this individual to have experience with," but aren't necessarily so great at communicating the complete technical landscape of the team, including all languages, tools, and technologies they use (as well the versions), along with the methodologies, frameworks, and/or processes they follow. As a result, especially as a technology professional, you need to inquire about this topic so you get a better picture of what all the technologies you'll be working with include.

    Ask questions such as "Will you break down your technology landscape for me? What are all the technologies the team uses, including versions? What tech will this role specifically be using?"

     
  3. Success criterion - During a job seeker workshop recently, a common frustration was "it's so difficult to gauge from a job description what requirements are true requirements, and what a client/Manager actually wants from a prospective candidate in terms of skills." We agree wholeheartedly! It is almost impossible to determine if you are 100% qualified for a role, and to understand the skills needed to be successful, simply from reading a job description. Therefore, a topic necessary to discuss in an interview is success criterion.

    As a candidate, you ask questions such as "I'd like to review the requirements of the job. There are 14 requirements listed, but what are the key skills and qualifications you need someone to possess to be successful in this role?" or "What skills have previous strong performers in this role had that attributed to them getting ramped up and being a contributing team member quickly?"

     
  4. Potential challenges - As a candidate exploring whether a position is going to be a good fit, part of your "discovery process" when understanding the role should include determining what challenges to anticipate. While Recruiter/s might not have a lot of insight into this, unless they've supported that client and team for years, it's a question to pose to the Team Lead or Manager the role reports to.

    Ask a question such as "I'd like to understand the expected challenges this role will face. What can you share there?" or "What challenges did the prior individual in this role experience?"

     
  5. Future roadmap - While in a meeting with three Directors of Software Development at an enterprise organization who had hundreds of Developers, we were discussing pain points with their hiring. They all were struggling to "sell" their environment and positions to the quality Developers they wanted to hire; they all had a lot of Developers decline their offers. When we got into more details on why that was happening, we discovered that "Developers don't want to work with the older version of the main programming language we are currently using." After posing the question "Well, what are your plans for upgrading and what's the timeline?" we learned that they were upgrading to a much newer version within 6 months, as well as implementing some other new frameworks and tools that many Developers were eager to work with. After suggesting they start to proactively communicate their roadmap to interviewees, they saw an increase in candidates accepting their offers!

    As a candidate, pose a question such as "What can you tell me about your project and/or technology roadmap? Are there any upgrades or new tools, technologies, etc. that will be implemented in the next 6-12 months?"
Next Steps

Going forward, as you are interviewing for jobs, consider asking questions related to each of these 5 topics. You can use the questions we provided, which we have compiled below, or tweak however you see fit.

  1. Responsibilities/Expectations - "Can you help me understand what the day-to-day or weekly responsibilities for this role are?" or "What are the core project/s and application/s this role will be supporting and what are expectations around them?" or "What do you want this person to accomplish in the first month? Three months? Six months?"
  2. Technologies - "Can you break down your technology landscape for me? What are all the technologies the team uses, including versions? What tech will this role specifically be using?"
  3. Success Pre-Requisites - "I'd like to review the requirements of the job. There are 14 requirements listed, but what are the key skills and qualifications you need someone to possess to be successful in this role?" or "What skills have previous strong performers in this role had that attributed to them getting ramped up and being a contributing team member quickly?"
  4. Challenges - "I'd like to understand the expected challenges this role will face. What can you share there?" or "What challenges did the individual in this role before experience?"
  5. Roadmap - "What can you tell me about your project and/or technology roadmap? Are there any upgrades or new tools, technologies, etc. that will be implemented in the next 6-12 months?"


Last Updated: 2020-01-27


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MSSQLTips author Erica Woods Erica Woods has nearly a decade in the IT staffing world, an MBA, and is a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

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