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I know . . . you want a good job. Don’t we all?  But don’t let this want turn into desperation, which causes you to take any opportunity that comes your way without doing your research on the organization and its leadership.

If nothing else, our current political climate should be a strong indicator that examining the leadership of an organization is critical to your decision process when accepting an offer.

While getting an offer is your goal, there are a few key questions to ask in the interview process that will help determine your cultural fit or desire to work for the company:

  • “Tell me about the CEO/President?” This is a key question. There is typically a lot of publicly available biographical information about leaders, but it’s always interesting to get the inside scoop.  Has he/she been the leader for a while?  What is his/her work history? What is his/her vision for the future of the firm.  This will give you a good idea of the direction of the company, and the areas of executive concentration.
  • “To whom does this role report?” If the answer isn’t outlined on the positions description, this should be one of your first questions. Get the title and name of your potential manager, and don’t be afraid to delve deeply into the work history of that person!  How long has he/she been with the organization?  Where was s/he previously?  This is a key question, because your livelihood will depend on this person.  Don’t be afraid to ask for opinions within your network of trusted advisors.
  • “What is the structure of the overall team?” From this question, you should be able to get a sense of the organization chart.  How many peers will you have?  To whom does your future boss report, and what is the goal of that person for your department or division?  Why is this role available?
  • “Does this company typically promote from within?” This is a very important question if you’re  hoping to grow within an organization.  There are some firms that tend to hire executives from outside of the company for a fresh perspective, while other firms prefer a homegrown leader.  The answer to this question will give you a good idea of the promotion track and what it takes to be considered.
  • “What is the ownership structure of the company?”  Whether or not a company is public or privately held is easily determined with a quick Google search, but if you have additional questions, definitely pose them in an early interview.  You might learn that the company has been recently been acquired, whether there’s involvement by a private equity firm, if there are plans for a merger, acquisition or a joint venture, or if the company is going public in the near future.  All of those bits of information are important as you plan your future.

Asking the right questions in the beginning can make for accurate expectations in your new role, and keep you from having to make another job change a year later.

Gina B. is an executive search consultant and President/Chief Alchemist of Naturals by Gina B. She can be reached at columnist@ymail.com.


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