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Are you a Magpie? The interview questions you should be asking to sort the tin from the gold.

Thanks to an article I read once with Bruce Forsyth where he mentioned magpies and how they can bring bad luck (one for sorrow, two for joy…), I have a rather obscure routine that I perform when encountering the bird, which involves saluting and mumbling a greeting. My friends have been known to cross the street to avoid the embarrassment and when on my own, this does indeed look like the first sign of madness.

ANYWAY – Whilst I have a mild obsession with magpies they are equally obsessed with anything shiny that catches the light and glints. Magpie job hunters, the same – they want to work for the perfectly formed shiny company/agency or innovative brand. The career nirvana. But is it as glossy, conceptual and progressive as you perceive?

Yes, they look good on your CV but when you dig down are they all that they seem and will they fulfil your dreams?

There is no greater disappointment then working with your heroes and finding out that they are in fact villains.

Out of work? The following exercise is equally as important, if not more so, as it's easy to be blinded by the offer of a gleaming new job.

In my experience a majority of people leave a role based not on the companies reputation or the creative standard but on the emotional factors :
didn’t get on with their colleagues
didn’t get on with their boss
the work environment wasn’t right
hours too long
there was no opportunity for progression
they didn't feel valued
they didn't feel financially rewarded

Before your interview and definitely before accepting your dream role, there are a few questions you can ask yourself and them that will make sure that it’s the right emotional / personal choice for you.

I am a big fan of list writing (much to the amusement of colleagues I even colour code my lists and have a strange attachment to my highlighters!).

Ask yourself

Prior to preparing any questions for interviews then it’s best to have a good handle on what you want from the job and your life around it. This may be noting down:
: your 3, 5 and 10 year goals for your career
: what role within your career you have enjoyed most and why
: the added responsibility you are looking for
: your bucket list
: you may be looking to spend more time with your family and friends
: take up a new pastime or course
: travel
: are planning on marriage or children
etc etc

If you are one of those lucky, highly focused individuals with a clear idea of what you want from your life, skip the list making but for your own peace of mind don’t skip the next bit.

People often struggle to know what to ask in interviews, hopefully these will add something to your current list that will make your decision making far easier.

Questions you should always know the answer to prior to accepting a role.

Why does the role exist?

Is it through expansion? Is so is this due to new clients, increased business with existing ones, diversification into new areas - I am always a tad wary when it’s due to one new client, are they making provision for work that may never appear?

Has someone left? What were their reasons for leaving? If you are working through a good recruitment agent, they will know the answer to this.

If you are replacing someone that they thought highly of, what made them such a star?

What are the opportunities for progression within the business? Do they offer/ provide training?

How is your performance measured? Who is it measured by?

How do they reward achievements?

How would they describe their work culture?

Do the employees socialise together? Do they arrange away days, events, have a 5-a-side team etc?

What has been their highlight from working within the company? They should be able to answer this pretty quickly or with multiple answers, if they struggle that is a little concerning.

What are the company’s goals for the future?

What has been the company's greatest achievement over the past year?

What is the likelihood of overtime? How regular and how flexible are they in this – this question is imperative for working parents juggling childcare!

There are plenty more questions around your personal motivations for moving jobs that you might want to add to this list.

Now compare these answers to your own personal list.

There are plenty of people that are looking for any opportunity to leave their current role and will accept whatever is thrown their way. I am a big believer that noone ever regrets leaving a job they hate.

However if you are fully armed with all the facts on a role then you may avoid swapping one bad situation with something worse; or at the very least are able to predict potential issues and are ready to handle difficult situations when they arise.

Happy job searching peeps

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