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Job descriptions posted by the company are works of art. It takes an experienced eye to filter the truth from the hype. You should take effort to find as much about the job as you can by meeting people from the company in similar jobs. That is the best way to discover the truth. In particular you should enquire about the following:
Find out what will you be evaluated on at the end of the year. Are you responsible for bringing in the business? Will you have monetary targets to meet? Are you responsible for setting up a process? Reducing defects? Whatever it is, just be sure you are clear about it and understand it well.
Some jobs will give you all the responsibilities but no resources or authority to really make things happen. Make sure that you are in the know about such jobs otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure. Ask questions like how much budget will you have to do the job? How many people will report to you? Do you have power to recruit more if required? Can you hire temporary workers? Speak to someone who is already doing this within the company. That is again your best source of information.
A day on the job
Ask the person in a similar job about what a typical day on the job would look like. Answer to this question brings out the real work they want you to do. Ask about the biggest frustrations and jubilations on the job. If what you hear excites you, go for it.
New position or filling in someone’s shoes
If you are being hired for a completely new position, you need to be more inquisitive on the need for this position, responsibilities, powers etc. If you are expected to fill in someone’s shoes, you should enquire reasons for the previous person leaving the job, number of years she worked on that job, what was her background etc. Although it might be her personal decision to leave the job and nothing to do with the job itself, you should still enquire and analyze those answers for your own good.
You should know how much of a commitment this job needs from you. If you are a working mom, then you better know the demands on your time beforehand. Enquire about the amount of out of town travel and to what places. Ask if flex working hours or work-from-home options are available.
Next level from this job
You should make sure that this job is a stepping stone to your career destination. If this job does not offer the career advancement you need, think again. Enquire about what are the next three levels from this job if you get promoted. Do they all fall on the right path?
Is it fixed salary or commission based? If it is hybrid, what percentage is fixed Vs variable? What does the annual bonus depend on? What is the bonus composition – cash Vs stock?
The more thorough you are about analyzing the fit of the job to your expectations, the lesser you will regret when you take up the job. Invest in fact-finding.
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