Interview for the Potentially Disinterested
November 4, 2012 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Interview questions for when you're not sure you're interested.

I want to seek new employment next year, but applied for a job a few weeks ago on a whim and got an interview with HR. I'm now scheduled for a second interview and not sure how interested I am.

The job is in a subset of my profession that I'm looking to get back into. This will certainly result in a pay cut, regardless of the organization. I am certain, though, that I want to make this kind of move.

However, the job in question is at a large company when I want to be in a smaller organization. It's also not in the field I was gunning for. And the hours may be longer. But it's permanent with excellent benefits and, again, in a direction I'd like to head. I've been consulting for the past year. Besides that, I don't know much about the job.

What questions should I be asking in the next interview I feel sort of meh about the position?
posted by lunalaguna to Work & Money (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Ask about the things you care about, and throw yourself into the interview as if you care about the job, because if the answers are good, then you do. Be enthusiastic, but at the same time let them sell you on the job, and see how you feel after they've given it their best shot.

But if you're pretty confident you'll be meh no matter what, and you don't want to use this as a practice interview for a job you do care about, save yourself and them some time.
posted by zippy at 12:30 PM on November 4, 2012

As someone who's been consulting for the past four years and recently transitioned into a full-time institutional gig, some things I wish I had asked:
  • How would you characterize the workplace culture here? Is it formal/informal, still/animated, highly structured/freeform?
  • What opportunities and/or resources for professional development exist in the organization?
And straight up ask if there will be any opportunities to explore whatever topics/skills from the field you ARE gunning for in this new position. (Without specifics, it's hard to know if this is reasonable/feasible/or makes any kind of sense.) I'll admit: it's been a harder adjustment than I thought it would be, but YMMV. And it's not all bad, either. Paid sick days! Paid vacation!
posted by smirkette at 12:55 PM on November 4, 2012

Yeah, ask about the things you care about. What do you expect to like about working there? What concerns you about working there? Ask about those things. You must have specific reasons to be concerned about the field you would be entering and the size of the organization, so you need to ask questions designed to elicit useful information concerning those issues. Without knowing a lot more information, I don't think AskMe can tell you what those questions are, but that's the basic idea.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:15 PM on November 4, 2012

I've usually approached jobs and interviews by first doing research on the company, and usually I can dig up enough information to be enthusiastic about what they do/topic X, etc. The suggestions below may be obvious, but YMMV. FWIW I like to learn from interviews, so I do use that approach.

Google the potential company and take a look at what they have on their web page. Do they have any press releases about their new X [grant, research project, collaboration with company Y] Are there publications for your industry like a journal or magazine and do they review companies? See if this company comes up in a search for previous years (i.e. best digital company for 2011, or recently awarded 30 grants in area X, or whatever). Take notes about those things to remind you to ask about it as a potential question.

Now when there, definitely do ask about their best whatever status (that you researched before on their web page or magazine) and ask to see samples. This gives them a chance to show off what they can do and be warm and fuzzy during the interview, and it will also give you a chance to see what is hot in the industry, new trends, etc. One would assume that when you see what they can do/did, that new questions will be generated from there. Even if you never take this job, you will walk away with a knowledge or ideas of what can be done in the industry.

Can you see a way that you could complement their (new grant area, digital stuff, whatever it is they had) or do you see something that has been part of other programs and they don't seem to have it? Ask about the missing part or if they would be open to (whatever is you can add to it).

If you could design your company and/or position, what would it be besides a small company? You can ask if they ever work in those areas of interest that you identify, because you may find that they do or they will. Since you are likely to be excited about this when you find out, then ask a lot of questions about this because then you will project enthusiasm.

Since you are trying to transition into a new area, you may ask people during the interview how they got into that particular niche or area, too, especially if they let you talk to potential colleagues - so it can be a way for you to learn more about the industry, too, or additional ways to break into the niche area.

Even if it is not a fit for a full-time job, some people will make an invite for a project/contract position if you point out later post interview that you really liked X and Y but don't see a full-time position as a good fit. Or people will stay in contact and let you know about positions at another company....these things do happen

I have had interviews where I have realized part way through that the job will not be a good fit for me and I would never take it. I usually still interview as if I want it, but you can play with whatever it is you may want to improve on during interviews. So is negotiating and creating new opportunities important? Ask if you might have the freedom to do X and Y if you get hired for Q and see how they reply (excited? mention it again if the job offer is made?). Or maybe you want to practice asking harder questions. Did you find "layoffs" in your research about the company? Ask about it directly: So I see that you have laid off X people in 2012, is this position safe? Watch how they reply.

Use it as a way to train for the next interview.

posted by Wolfster at 1:52 PM on November 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

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