Is it possible to know as early as a job interview that the boss interviewing you will care about your career?
If your boss asks these questions during the interview, they’re subtly indicating that they're interested and invested in your career growth — and that they want to give you opportunities to advance in their organization.
This question is a familiar staple of the interview process. Sometimes it is asked in a slightly different style, such as what gets you out of bed in the morning or where you would like to be in five years.
Asking this question gives a potential boss insight into a candidate’s goals and ambitions. Candidates that share a thoughtful answer allow the boss to learn more about how they would like their careers to turn out. This is often the starting point for how a boss can help mentor, train and get talent on track to reach these goals.
Many candidates that apply for jobs ask about teams in and out of their department. It’s natural to be curious about the people you will be working with. You also may want to learn more about where individuals that previously held this role are now.
This is a good opportunity for bosses to speak up about their team members. Patricia Karam is the CEO of Mission Recruit, an employment agency that works with Fortune 500 companies nationwide.
Karam advises interviewees to listen closely to how bosses speak about past and present team members. Pay attention to how leadership supports professional growth and helps move team members into different roles, especially once they know and understand their key motivators.
“The best leaders are constantly thinking about the team and where to best promote or move team members based on an individual’s talent and passion,” Karam says.
Beware the boss that only asks what you can do for the business, according to Linn Atiyeh, CEO and founder of Bemana.
Atiyeh says that balance is necessary for fair treatment and harmonious workplaces. Employees should feel supported by their bosses. A supportive boss will not be threatened by a candidate’s future plans. Rather, they may be curious and ask more questions.
This type of question, Atiyeh says, is a good indicator that a boss is genuinely interested in your goals and well-being. They will be ready to serve as an advocate when it matters most and will support you once you become part of the company.
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is equally as important that candidates feel comfortable speaking with a potential boss about the future. Avoid using a canned response or saying what you think the boss might like to hear. If you’re comfortable, openly talk about the plans that matter to you, such as starting a family or an aging relative you are caring for, rather than ignoring these plans to pretend that career is the only end game. An employer who cares about you will care about your plans outside of your career, too.
Atiyeh adds that it’s a good sign when an interviewer creates time and space to answer questions from the candidate. Typically, this space is designated towards the end of the interview and may last for at least 15 minutes or more if the conversation is lively and thoughtful.
“This shows that they are looking to bring you into a workplace that understands employees have their own perspectives and aspirations,” Atiyeh says.
These questions may be about the company, the position the candidate is applying for or about leadership. You can, and should, use this time to ask questions to the boss interviewing you. Ask about their career path, interest, and work-life balance strategies to learn more about the boss’ personality. You might just discover that you truly care about their career, too.
This article was written by a Fairygodboss Contributor.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.