Friday, July 24, 2009

6 powerful questions to ask at job interviews

Time to read this post: 4 minutes

What you won't read in "What color is your parachute"

I gave a talk in March of this year at the Wharton School on "Applied Happiness - Building the Positive Organization". I shared the six questions that almost nobody asks when applying for a job. I believe these simple questions are critical to understand whether or not you are suited for it. Kathyn Britton wrote up my talk on Positive Psychology News Daily. Here is an exerpt:

"1. Who will I learn from and how?
Is career development outsourced to training companies that know little about the specific environment? Does the company tell employees “You’re responsible for your own career,” avoiding involvement?
Or does the employer have a mentoring culture where more experienced people gracefully accept the responsibility of helping new people develop? Does it have a peer learning model where people are expected to take time to help each other learn? Do managers share the responsibility for career development with employees? Is mentoring ever tipped upside-down so that senior people learn new skills, such as computer proficiency, from younger people?
Jane Dutton describes a related key strategy, task enablement that can involve teaching, designing tasks effectively, advocating, and accommodating individual differences. Some of the references below explore the value of mentoring to the workplace, mentor, and protegé.

Who is held up as a hero here? What for?
Bandura’s serial dramas are based on the theory that people learn from role models whose behavior they wish to emulate. In similar fashion, workplace culture is conveyed to new members through the stories of its heroes. What behaviors are valued here? Are those behaviors that you wish to emulate?
Are the heroes people who deliver on very aggressive commitments, no matter what — even if people leave their organizations burned out and demoralized? Or are the heroes people well known for collaborating and bringing opposing sides together?
Are heroes always individuals, or are particular teams held up as examples because of the ways they’ve pulled together?

3. How do you resolve conflict here?

There will be disagreements in any work environment. So how do they get resolved? Are corrosive, threatening behaviors tolerated? Or are there procedures for giving everybody a voice but coming to agreement, either through explained decision-making or consensus?
Dutton, Frost, Glendinning, Sutton, and others write about corrosive workplaces where bullying is tolerated. According to Pearson, Andersson, and Wegner, people who instigated incivility were three times as likely to have more power than their targets than to be peers or subordinates.
This is the question that Janet most wished that she had asked in her last interview.

4. How willing are people to help each other?
Are people pitted against each other in job evaluations so that there is a feeling that helping someone else will put a person at a disadvantage? Or is helping others both valued and expected? How is work divided up? Are people given assignments and expected to complete them by themselves? Justin Berg suggests that the Job Crafting Exercise could be used by a team to divide up work so that people spend more time with tasks that line up with their strengths, motivations, and passions. How much flexibility is there for people to divide work and swap tasks?

5. How do you celebrate what’s working?
It is so easy for organizations to focus on problems and negative events and then take victories, large and small, for granted. Gable and colleagues have demonstrated that people get much more benefit out of positive events when they take time to talk them over with trusted others who respond actively and constructively. At an organizational level, do people have an opportunity to capitalize on achievements?
Are questions asked that highlight what’s working?
Alan mentioned that people in his company became much more willing to fill in employee surveys when the first question changed from “What is going wrong on your project?” to “What is going well on your project?

6. What keeps you going when things get stressful?
Fear or a sense of purpose? Competition or comradeship?

This article is © 2009 The original article was authored by Kathryn Britton on April 7, 2009, and can be seen here. To join the discussion about this article, click here."

Picture from Flickr


ryan said...

Great subject. I have been playing around with the idea of the comment structure recently.

part time job

Sara_C said...

When I read your article, the thing that came into my mind was simply that it would benefit people searching for jobs to know if the company they are thinking they want to work with employs performance management software. When companies, like Healthcare source, are working with a place of employment, employees can be sure that their efforts will be rewarded! There is a great link describing this kind of software at

I found it to be a great way to let my employer know that I'm the kind of employee that they want because I am forward thinking and know that my performance equals their profits!

Sara said...

Tks very much for your post.

Avoid surprises — interviews need preparation. Some questions come up time and time again — usually about you, your experience and the job itself. We've gathered together the most common questions so you can get your preparation off to a flying start.

You also find all interview questions at link at the end of this post.

Source: Download Ebook: Ultimate Guide To Job Interview Questions Answers:

Best rgs