Every individual working in any company, anywhere in the world has certain expectations from their jobs. Some of the basic expectations are - job satisfaction, growth opportunities, good compensation and benefits, amicable work-culture, and work-life balance. Unfortunately, very few candidates ask any question in job interviews to find answers of their concerns. They don’t ask questions and then from first day itself they start complaining about N numbers of things about company policies, culture, growth opportunities, rewards, etc. Why do you complain? Did you ask your employer about their performance management or reward system? Did you ask your employer about expectations of the role and how you can excel in that role? You didn’t ask. Even if you have asked any question, if at all, those questions might be about compensation being offered, paid vacations, and working hours. Remember, if you ask profound questions, you will get profound answers. If you ask shallow questions, you get shallow answers. If you ask no questions, you get no answers at all.
Asking questions is a natural part of your biological make-up. Remember, when you were kids, how many questions you used to ask out of curiosity or to get information and some questions were really challenging. Why there are 12 months in a year? Why the colour of sky is blue? Why there are 28 days in February? What is leap year? Who stays on starts? How I came to this planet? Etc. But now you have stopped asking good questions? In fact, you don’t ask any question, even if it is about your future, your career, and your growth. Why? Because most of us are told by our parents, teachers, partners, elders in family and bosses to stop asking questions. Not only that are we told not to ask questions, but when we do ask a question not considered appropriate or correct, we are ridiculed. As a result, we become afraid to ask questions. We begin to think that smart people do not need to ask questions, as they already have the answer. We protect ourselves from being perceived as stupid by not asking questions. They have killed our instinct of asking questions.
This article is to reignite your basic behaviour of asking questions. You must ask questions which are about your future, your growth and your success. You must ask questions at the time of your job interviews.
Here are few questions a candidate must ask his interviewer at the time of job interview –
1. How my performance will be measured? - Companies hire you for specific work. As an employee, you must know how does the company going to measure your work and performance. What will be performance criteria’s? Who will be assessing your performance? When? How frequently? This can be very powerful question.
2. What is the company compensation percentile for the role? - Balancing internal and external equity is a challenge for all companies. Dissatisfactory compensation is one of the prime reasons for employees to resign from their existing jobs. Therefore, you must know where your compensation stands vis-à-vis similar roles within and outside the company.
3. How my performance will be rewarded? - Every good performance must be rewarded. Therefore, you must know what shall be considered as excellent, good as well as poor performance for your role and how Company rewards the great or excellent performance? Candidates don’t ask this question at the time of interview and later on they start complaining.
4. What company does to ensure work-life balance for employees? - Disparity between work and life is another reason for employees to leave. Therefore, ask the interviewer about HR initiatives towards work-life balance. This is another way of asking about working-hours, work-culture and paid vacations.
5. What company does to retain its customers? - Customer retention is directly linked to employee retention. A company that is doing nothing to retain its customers will do nothing to retain its employees. Ask them what they do to retain their valuable customers.
6. What is the growth plan for the role? - Each role in a company has accountabilities [accountabilities are different from responsibilities], set of competencies and a growth plan. There is an upward movement for every role. Instead of crying at later stage of your employment with company, ask the interviewer about growth plan for your role.
7. What are employee development plans and procedures of the company? - If they have growth plan for your role then they also must have development plans for your role. Ask them.
Don’t assume anything, instead ask questions and ask good questions. Questioning is learning. Questions and a questioning attitude are not just important to be successful in career or in business; they are also useful day in and day out for making good decisions, giving feedback to friends and family, problem solving, planning, and resolving conflicts. If you are given an opportunity to ask questions at the end of an interview, grab it with both hands. It is about your future and your career, therefore, have enough courage to open-up. Courage is always an act, not a thought. You cannot think your way into courage, you act your way into courage.
Asking questions is not always easy, especially tough follow-up questions that require deep and intensive soul-searching. Courage includes the willingness to ask questions that may challenge or even break-up current perceptions and patterns. Courage is required, because to keep looking for better answers, we have to be willing to give-up our current beliefs or positions. Some answers are more accurate, appropriate and useful than others. For you to want to do the hard work necessary to find better answers, you need substantial curiosity and courage.
Asking profound questions is an art. It comes with practice. Since, you have stopped asking questions for more than TWO decades now, hence you might need appropriate coaching. As self-help guide, remember that a thoughtful question adheres to one or all of the following parameters –
1. Challenge taken-for-granted assumptions that prevent people from acting in new and forceful ways.
2. Create deep reflection
3. Generate courage and strength
4. Lead to breakthrough thinking
5. Cause the person to focus and to stretch
6. Generate positive and powerful action
7. Open doors in the mind and get people to think more deeply
8. Test assumptions and cause individuals to explore why they act in the way that they do as well as why they choose to take action
9. Contain the keys that open the door to great solutions
10. Enable people to better view the situation
When individuals fail to ask questions, they forgo an opportunity to test their assumptions and prejudices, whether those prejudices involve cultural beliefs of people, human behaviour, and growth opportunities in your profession of choice. Those who avoid questions are actually losing opportunities to learn. Asking lots of questions opens new doors to new ideas, which ultimately contributes to your competitive edge.
By their nature, questions help us think clearly, logically and strategically. Questions increase communications and listening as well as prevent us from misjudging each other’s motivation. We can find the truth more easily through listening to each other’s questions than by being forced to listen to opinions and statements that are based on assumptions. Truth emerges not from opinions but from the free movement of open minds. Questioning causes us to view one another as resource.
Telling creates resistance, whereas asking creates relationships.
Written By: Sanjeev Himachali