In a recent article from CNBC, Insight Global CEO Bert Bean offered advice to job seekers who are interviewing with companies. Outside of standard informational interview questions, like how certain team dynamics work or what the company’s goals are, there’s one interview question he suggests every candidate should ask:
“How close is this role going to be to the core functions of what the company does, and would I be working on projects that are mission critical, or closer to revenue?”
This question helps you accomplish multiple things:
- You can learn more specifics about the role itself
- You display a deep level of interest in learning about in the role and organization
- It helps you identify how vital this role is to day-to-day operations at the company
- You gain an understanding of how they see this role fitting into the bigger picture
That last point is as important as ever in today’s economy. Though unemployment levels are still low, several companies have instituted layoffs. Some of them may have been adjusting from over hiring, and some of it may have been to protect their bottom line. Either way, asking that question lets you know how important the role is to the company’s goals and revenue.
“Whenever times get tough and business leaders face increased pressure to meet their revenue goals, they’re going to do whatever they can to not cut the people that are helping them hit those numbers,” Bean said in the article. “That’s why we’re seeing so many recruiters get laid off at tech companies for example, because those jobs are not seen as mission critical to keep the business afloat.”
And with the shifting economic winds, those roles could be seen as mission critical again in 12 months—or not. So, by asking this question (among others) in your interview process, you can identify how essential the position you’re interested in is to them right now. While nothing can guarantee any role is recession-proof, being curious, asking engaged questions, and offering crucial, hard-to-replace skills, flexibility, leadership, and overall value goes a long way.
Other Tips for the Interview Process
On top of asking this key interview question, Bean suggests candidates pay attention to how the company and hiring manager behave during the interview process. Some things you may want to ask yourself during the interview process include:
- How excited is the manager about bringing you on? Does it seem like they’re just trying to fill a seat, or are they interested in seeing what you bring to the table?
- Are they responsive to your questions between interviews, or is it taking a week or so just to reply to an email? That might just mean they are busy and really need to hire, but it’s something to consider.
- Are you replacing someone who was just laid off a month ago? Why are they trying to fill that seat?
“Be cautious,” Bean warns. Poor handling of candidates during the interview process can be detrimental—and this applies to both the candidate and the hiring manager. The experience someone has in the interview process not only gives them insight into what it would be like to work with a company, it can make or break their desire to work with the company at all.