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Whether it is because of nerves or the thrill, but interviewing for jobs is a daunting experience. However, during that process, I have often noticed that many candidates forget one really important thing- job interviews are a two-way street.
As important as it is to answer the interviewer’s questions to the best of your ability, it is also important to be prepared with questions of your own. The best candidates I have met are the ones who have come into the interview with a set of questions that would help them understand the role better and gauge their own fit and interest in the position.
When one of our potential hires reaches the final round of interviews with us, we always look out for this one question: What does success look like in this role? In other words: What am I expected to do and how? How will success be measured? What does the employer want this role to accomplish?
Regardless of how it is worded, it is the one question no job seeker should ever leave the room without asking.
This question addresses your and the company's needs on multiple levels. There are four very different roles that it plays before, during, and long after an offer has been accepted.
1. Clarifies expectations and gives you a better idea of what to deliver on
On the surface, it outlines what the job entails and the nature of key deliverables. On a deeper level, asking what success should look like, or how it will be measured by the employer, helps you understand, simply, what exactly you’ll be doing and why. You are also able to gauge where to best utilize strengths, and recognize the areas where you may need some training.
2. Helps you understand the current problems being faced
Being informed on how you are expected to succeed in a new role lays out what the company may have been missing thus far, or the problems that they may have been dealing with. These can be small things like a sporadic feedback system between a supervisor and employee, or larger things like inefficient communication or workflow processes.
It also gets you up to speed with what the company is trying to accomplish as a whole and how your potential role would fit into the company's larger vision. You can begin to think creatively about alternative solutions to the problems explained by the employer (maybe give them a thought after the interview and offer them up in a follow up email to really leave your mark!).
3. Shows you are OKR-focused
Employers want top candidates who can prove their talent and skills through their work. Focusing on measurable key results is crucial as objectives without measurement are just desires floating in space.
The OKR (Objectives and Key Results) goal-setting system is used to align and manage goals within a team. The system is used by companies like Google, Twitter, Spotify, and LinkedIn, amongst multiple others. OKR enforces SMART goal-setting as per John Doerr’s formula:
“I will _[achieve this objective]_ as measured by _[these set of key results]_.”
It ensures all teams are unified in their priorities and objectives. When you, as a candidate, are proactive about the objectives of the company and responsibilities of the role, it demonstrates the right kind of focus and fit from day one.
The OKR system also shows the company’s expectations regarding the performance and achievements within the role. For example, if the expectation is for the new hire to ‘take on’ five clients within the first three months, it would be helpful for the candidate to know whether their goal will be managing five existing client accounts or acquiring five new clients; will they be accountable for cold-calling clients, acquiring leads in new ways, or building a stronger relationship with older clients.
So, when you ask the interviewer how success will be measured, it shows, clearly, you’re right on track to work with measurable key results.
4. Sets you up to grow within the organization
Successful performance in a role leads to professional development, opportunities to take on more challenging projects, and promotions. Asking how a role will be measured for development and promotions shows your motivation and drive to achieve greater goals. It also sets you up for internal growth in the organization right from the beginning.
There are lots of examples of good interview questions that a simple Google search will get you, but “what does success look like in this role?” might just be the one that gets you hired.