create job bliss by asking the right questions

Questions are powerful things when asked in the genuine spirit of curiosity. And curiosity is what will lead you straight to job bliss.

Especially in an interview situation (and dating too … because really they’re not so different when you think about it).

It’s because you get to see things for what they are, as they are, when it’s not useful or wise to want something different than what is.

Just remember – in your asking, be prepared to hear what you’re listening to. Because the answers have implications for you and whether or not the job will feel more or less satisfying than the last.

Case in point: Carla*, a client of mine, asked her prospective future boss about his management style during a three-phase interview process for her first role at the Director level. The boss’ answer was an honest one: “Autocratic” (in other words, the style of management best suited to crisis situations – an authoritarian style where an individual controls all decisions with little input from others).

Carla thought she understood what this term meant. She thought it meant that she would have autonomy because “auto” was in the word and because that’s what she hoped that it meant. Oopsie.

In short: It turned out to be a mismatch from hell.

She stopped beating herself up for her situation after she was intuitively guided to look up the word one day shortly before giving notice. She couldn’t figure out how she had ended up where she was until she read what the word meant. She laughed. Decided not to feel bad anymore. And move on. (BTW she got another Director job that was a better fit – so yah!).

Take away: Verify words that you think you might know (just in case). You could be saving yourself a lot of heartache.

And if you know what the words being presented do mean, accept them for what they are coming from who they come from. It may not be comfortable to admit that you can’t live long term with what you hear from a prospect for ending financial uncertainty right there in front of you, but it will save you time and money in the end to walk away from what is sure to not last anyway.

Plus you’ll have nothing but the highest respect for yourself. As Maya Angelou said: “When people tell you who they are, believe them.” They know themselves better than you.

Onwards …

So you’re in the interview – calm as the water’s surface on a still summer’s eve because you came with questions to ask. (Actually, I know that’s not how you feel, but you would be wise to do whatever it takes to feel at home in your own body during this process. Really. Serious.)

So, back to the questions you have in hand – they’re not: What are the hours? What is the pay? What are the benefits? How much vacation do I get? When can I expect a raise? The first interview is like a first date and you’re talking about marriage on the first date?!!?

(No, of course not.)

Here’s what I tell my clients who are working on creating their next career stepping stone: Have 10 questions on hand to ask a potential interviewer (and customize them in how you word them so that they sound like you and are ultra relevant to the position that you want because you are indeed the marrying kind).

Does 10 sound like a lot?

It’s not.

Because chances are that over the course of the first interview (to be thought of from now on as your first date), lots of the questions will get covered naturally. However, chances are good that at least 2-4 of them won’t.

So you’ll at least have something.

And you’ll definitely want to ask some thing(s) before you leave because they reveal who you are in your own words. How questions are asked and what questions are asked are often more telling than answers – in other words – you say so much about yourself with the questions that you ask.

And besides (in response to your questions), you’ll want to know who (as in what kind of person, not ‘who’ as in a form of identification) you are talking to exactly. Because really, you definitely want to know if you’re wanting to accept a follow-up interview (herein thought of as a second date). Very likely you’re talking to your future boss after all (or will be talked about to your future boss most definitely), at some point in the process anyways.

(Let’s call that paragraph above informative babbling shall we?)

So, here are two of my top picks for questions that you ought to take with you and ask at an interview before you leave + why (the important part):

Q: How you do celebrate accomplishments and achievements here?


‘Cause recognition and celebration can replenish your enthusiasm for what you do at work IF (and only if) accomplishments and achievements are celebrated in ways that are meaningful to you.

If you value being told to “add an extra day on to your holiday next week for a job well done,” but if instead what the culture offers are verbal accolades from the boss like “I want to recognize Carla for bringing in new business,” or a team drink after work with your drink “looked after,” or a pick out of the employee recognition catalogue every 5 years – if those things aren’t of value to you (and they might be, I’m not judging – just offering examples), then work is going to feel like more work.

So know what you value and look to see that there’s a culture that matches what you can appreciate too. Namely, because people leave when they don’t feel recognized or appreciated in the ways that are important to them.

Q: What does success look like or mean in this role from your perspective?

Why: We don’t realize it, but the definition of “a job well done” to you isn’t necessarily the same definition for your (future) boss. Ideally what you do and how you do it are a match to what they are looking for as they rely on your role for their success.

But really – often this is not the case.

And what defines “a job well done” doesn’t need to be a secret.

Ask and you will learn at the very least:

:: What to focus on so that you can spend your time efficiently during the day (avoid burnout); and/or

:: Whether what the job focuses on and what determines success in the job is what you can sustainably give or not.

Looking for a few more questions to make your next interview meaningful? Click here.

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