To get your ideal IT job, Ed Pospesil suggests showing up to your job interview with some questions of your own to ask the hiring committee.

Hiring executives have the prerogative to select candidates and extend offers. But you are not obligated to accept any offer you receive, and you may continue searching for a better opportunity. Upon receiving an offer, your decision is: “Do I or don’t I wish to do the work asked of me with this group of people?”

If you are finding few opportunities, it is more likely that you will accept all interview invitations and consider any offer, whether it is attractive or not. However, your long term career prospects and earnings potential are at stake so it is to your benefit to vet carefully every company and position you explore. Accepting a position you fail to evaluate carefully may mean you will face the agony of another career transition round earlier than anticipated and have to endure a less than rewarding experience while employed.

Focus on career objectives

Before seeking interviews, reflect on your the ideal profile of your next job as an IT leader. Think in terms of possible titles, functions, industries, companies, span of control, levels, reporting lines and cultures, just to name a few. This process will enable you to filter out less desirable positions and focus on those that will mean more to you than just a paycheck.

 "Accepting a position you fail to evaluate carefully may mean you will face the agony of another career transition round earlier than anticipated."

When interviewing, ask questions that will lead to an informed decision and reduce the risk to you. Preparing questions in advance, asking all interviewers the same questions and comparing responses afterward will give you greater insight into a company, its culture and the position. Inconsistencies can be probed and discussed during the interview process.

Disagreement among hiring executives, especially for newly created positions, may indicate unacceptable risk due to company politics. The single interviewer who disagrees with their team concerning position importance and content will likely be your next political nemesis.

Using a structured question approach also enables you to showcase your strengths, accomplishments and value. Assimilate your interviewers’ answers quickly, relate them to your previous experience and offer suggestions or share comparable vignettes. This is a subtle but powerful marketing approach. You are offering value without compensation and are being a team player without being formally on the team.

Prepare a list of job interview questions

Here is my list of suggested questions to use during your interviews:

  1. How well is the company performing? What must it do to sustain its financial performance and market competitiveness?

  2. How will this position contribute to company performance?

  3. Why is this position vacant?

  4. How many people have held this position in the past five years?

  5. What would successful performance of this role look like to you?

  6. What challenges and obstacles to success am I likely to encounter?

  7. Does the executive culture include socialization and building sponsorship? What advanced preparation must I complete to have a proposed initiative or solution approved?

  8. What are your greatest challenges? How could I help you?

  9. How often would we communicate? Would you prefer for me to provide frequent updates, or to bring only big issues and problems to your attention?

  10. What future opportunities may be open to me if I perform well?

Have you used a question at an interview that has yielded valuable information? Please share it here in the comments section.

If financial pressure influences your decision to accept a less than attractive position, admit it to yourself but do not attempt to change the focus of the position or your new boss’ priorities and goals, as that will only accelerate the arrival of your next career transition experience. Deliver against your boss’ goals and priorities the way she/he wants you to.

In the meantime learn as much as possible to increase your future career marketability and treat the new position as a consulting engagement, with a beginning and an end. In 18 to 24 months, begin seeking a better position.

Job interview questions

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