The most powerful question a candidate can ask of a potential employer is “How can I win in this job?” Listen carefully to the answer. If the hiring manager can’t rattle off the top competencies, tell you how results will be measured, and show what supports are in place — the position may bring with it inordinate risk.
It’s not uncommon for organizations to begin a recruitment campaign before fully understanding the needs and success measurements of a given position. I’m seeing this even more lately. Here’s one theory on why this may be happening. Now that the economy is showing signs of recovery companies are demonstrating their growing confidence by granting small headcount increases. Finally getting the corporate nod to do some hiring after what may seem like an interminable hiring freeze can entice some managers to jump the gun. It takes patience and forethought to work out a winning game plan and the requisite competencies before going to market.
If you’re interviewing right now you can prepare yourself by practicing with this question. Think about the kinds of responses you may receive and how you will react to them. Keep asking – and listening – until you arrive at a clear picture of what you will be expected to accomplish and exactly what you will need to do to win. Then you can make an informed career choice.