Updated: Jun 8
In Part II, I ended with the questions I’d asked the panel. When I asked these questions, I focused more on the panel’s body language and facial expression. There were some questions that I observed an obvious discomfort, especially when I asked about the work culture.
Remember, just as much as the panel wants to make sure you are the person for the job, YOU also have a responsibility (and right) to find out about what you’re getting yourself into.
Anyway, the questions I asked are in Bold below, and the answers I got are right below.
Was there anything unclear about my previous answers that you’d like me to clarify?
This gives the panel an opportunity to confirm details about your CV or your previous answer. If there's anything the panel is concerned about, this is your chance to redeem yourself.
However, they answered no.
Why was this position open? Was it an internal promotion of the previous post holder, a resignation or was this a new post?
I was told that the job I was interviewing for was a brand new role after they had done some internal restructuring. Which is a reasonable answer.
If the panel looks uncomfortable with this question, this is a red flag. If the previous post holder resigned, there’s probably something fishy about the work environment or management. However, If the previous post holder was promoted, there’s probably a good chance of mobility along the career ladder in the organization.
Can you tell me about the work culture? Is the work culture here collaborative or independent?
All the three panelists' responses heavily emphasized “We’re like a family here, very collaborative!”. I saw that the two of the panel exchanged looks with each other, and that was a subtle red flag for me. I personally hate when organizations say “We’re like a family here!”. No, this is work. I already have a family at home.
There were no specific performance indicators on the JD advertised. How will performance be measured?
The answer was something along the line of “When you’re officially hired, we’ll let you know”.
What is the leadership style of the executive team here?
Again, “Our leadership style is collaborative and we treat everyone like family!”.
I suppose they mean well when they emphasized “We’re like a family!”. However, families/ family dynamics can be dysfunctional, toxic, and abusive.
Sure, there are some really happy, lovely families out there and that’s the image they want to portray. Whatever your image of family is when you hear “We’re like a family” in a professional setting, I’d recommend you take it with a pinch of salt.
If I am hired for the position, what is the immediate priority expected of me to achieve?
Mostly Performance Management. This is fine by me because that’s what I’ve been doing since 2015.
What are the prospects for growth in this organization? Are there training opportunities and career development opportunities for staff?
“Yes, we have training programs for our staff”.
I politely smiled, waiting for elaboration. No further information was given. I didn’t push further either.
What do you enjoy the most about working here?
The answer that stood out the most to me was “We all pray together every single morning!”. My current organization (and most others) only does a morning lotu once a week on a Monday.
The only other organization that I know that does a staff lotu every morning is Prema & Sons store in town. I walk past the store most mornings on my way to work, and most of their staff looks so disengaged and bored during their morning lotu program. Oh well.
When can I expect to hear about your final hiring decision?
“We’ll call you and let you know within a week.”
The second-round job interview
So a few days after the first interview, I got a call again for the second round of interviews. When I arrived at the office, it was more of a one-on-one chat with the CEO. She explained more about the job, especially what HR functions they needed the most help with. Then she asked whether I was comfortable working weekends.
“Like, a full day every weekend?”.
She must have picked up the hesitancy in my voice. “Well, half-days from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm every Saturday. Will you be ok with that?”.
“Uhh, yeah sure.”.
“And what are your long-term goals, let’s say, for the next 3 years?”
“I’m passionate about learning, so I envision myself in a place I can learn and grow”.
“I see. Your latest degree was on a scholarship. So you’re a scholar.”
“I suppose, yes.” I wasn't sure if that was a question or a statement.
“And what if there was a scholarship you were interested in? Let’s say, within the next 2 years and we employed you?”
“I’d appreciate it if I could pursue my academic goals. Learning is my passion, and I’m sure I can contribute even more to the organization if I increased my knowledge and skills.”
“Ok, thank you for your time”. She smiled, shook my hand and walked me to the door.
However, I went home feeling like I fucked up. Like, a BIG fuck-up. At least I was honest with my answers. I love learning and I’m passionate about education. If I had to choose between work and learning/ going for another degree, I sure as hell won’t be choosing work. The tingling feeling in my gut bothered me all night.