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The job interview is a two-way street.

You should be assessing the employer just as much as they're assessing you because you both need to walk away convinced that the job would be a great fit ... and that should start from the moment you take the hot seat.

At the very end of the interview, the hiring manager usually asks, "Do you have any questions for me?" But don't wait until they turn the tables to start asking questions.

Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job," says that there are a few you should ask at the very beginning of the conversation.

Here are three of them, along with her reasons for asking these early on:

'How did this position develop?'
This is a good conversation starter on your end, says Taylor:

"It demonstrates intellectual curiosity, yet isn't intrusive or brash. It's also helpful to let the hiring manager talk, as you gather some history on the position. You'll get some insight on whether the opening is due to turnover or growth, for example."

'How does this role fit into the larger objectives of the department and company?'
Try to ascertain the big picture in the early stages of the interview, suggests Taylor.

"This will help you better frame your answers in a way that's more meaningful. It's easier to sell your skills when you can relate them to the company's larger strategy," she says.

'What do you like most about working here?'
This is a friendly, nonthreatening question that works early on because it's conversational, and you're showing interest in the interviewer.

She says:

"It can also be received as flattering, but at the same time, you're getting to know the hiring manager.

"Are they thrilled about mentoring their staff, their product or service, the innovative atmosphere? Do they focus on only growth numbers and minimizing expenses, with no mention of the team, training, or growth opportunities? It gives you a sneak preview into your prospective manager's priorities and all-important personality. This is where it pays to have your people radar up, to evaluate if this is a boss you can respect."  

3 Questions you should always ask at the beginning of a job interview
3 Questions you should always ask at the beginning of a job interview
At the end of the interview, the hiring manager usually asks, "Do you have any questions for me
3 years ago

Regardless of your age, background, or accomplishments, you have probably fantasized about the possibility of a new career at some point in your life – those who haven’t are the exception.

LinkedIn reports that of its 313 million members, 25% are active job seekers, while 60% can be considered passive job seekers – people who are not proactively searching for a new job, but seriously willing to consider opportunities. In addition, there has been a steady increase of self-employed and temporary workers over the past two decades. This is true even in rich economies with low unemployment rates, like the U.S. and the U.K., partly because of the glamorization of entrepreneurship, the rise of the sharing economy, and the ubiquity of incompetent management, which makes the prospect of not having a boss rather alluring.

Yet at the same time, humans are naturally prewired to fear and avoid change, even when we are decidedly unhappy with our current situation. Indeed, meta-analyses show that people often stay on the job despite having negative job attitudes, low engagement, and failing to identify with the organization’s culture. And, since career changes are often driven by emotional rather than rational factors, they often end up disappointing. So at the end of the day, there is something comforting about the predictability of life: it makes us feel safe. As the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard observed: “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”

The inability to make a decision is in itself anxiety-provoking, because it increases uncertainty about the future. In addition, most people, even millennials, value long-term job stability, not just in themselves but also in others. Unsurprisingly, the OECD sees job security as a key component of quality of life, while academic studies report that job insecurity is a major cause of psychological stress.

All this explains why it is so hard to leave a job, no matter how uninspiring or monotonous it may be. In order to help you decide whether it may be time for a career change, here are five critical signs, based on psychological research, that you would probably benefit from a career switch:

You are not learning. Studies have shown that the happiest progression to late adulthood and old age involves work that stimulates the mind into continuous learning. This is particularly important if you are high on Openness to Experience/Inquisitiveness, a personality trait associated with curiosity, creativity, love of learning, and having a hungry mind.

You are underperforming. If you are stagnated, cruising in autopilot, and could do your job while asleep, then you’re almost certainly underperforming. Sooner or later, this will harm your resume and employability. If you want to be happy and engaged at work you are better off finding a job that entices you to perform at your highest level.

You feel undervalued. Even when employees are happy with their pay and promotion prospects, they will not enjoy their work unless they feel appreciated, especially by their managers. Furthermore, people who feel undervalued at work are more likely to burnout and engage in counterproductive work behaviors, such as absenteeism, theft, and sabotage. And when the employee in question is a leader, the stakes are much higher for everyone else because of their propensity to behave in ways that could destroy the organization.

You are just doing it for the money. Although people tend to put up with unrewarding jobs mostly for financial reasons, staying on a job just for the money is unrewarding at best, and demotivating at worst. As I pointed out in a previous post, employee engagement is three times more dependent on intrinsic than extrinsic rewards, and financial rewards extinguish intrinsic goals (e.g., enjoyment, sheer curiosity, learning or personal challenge).

You hate your boss. As the saying goes, people join companies but they quit their bosses. This implies that there is a great deal of overlap between employees who dislike their jobs, and those who dislike their bosses. In our research, we find that 75% of working adults find that the most stressful part of their job is their immediate supervisor or direct line manager. Until organizations do a better job at selecting and developing leaders, employees will have to lower their expectations about management or keep searching for exceptional bosses.

Of course, these are not the only signs that you should pay attention to. There are many other valid reasons for considering a job switch, such as work-life balance conflicts, economic pressures, firm downsizing, and geographical relocation. But these reasons are more contextual than psychological, and somewhat less voluntary. They are therefore less likely to lead to decision uncertainty than the five reasons I listed.

At the end of the day, real-world problems tend to lack a clear-cut solution. Instead, the correct answer depends on its consequences and how pleased we are with the outcome, and both are hard to predict. As Abraham Lincoln said, “the best way to predict the future is to create it,” so the only way to know whether a career move is actually right for you is to make it.  

5 Signs It’s Time for a New Job
5 Signs It’s Time for a New Job
If you’re paralyzed with indecision, consider this list.
3 years ago

Temporary employment has helped employers and professionals for decades, but understanding how temp positions have evolved, and the benefits they offer today’s professionals, can help you map out your career strategy. Here are four ways temp positions offer tremendous opportunities:

Temp can often lead to permanent. If you’re at a crossroads in your career and are looking for stability, temp jobs can offer surprising stability. As mentioned above, partnering with a staffing firm like Helpmates helps you become part of our team – many specialists are entitled to similar benefits you’d receive in a full-time job. So if you decide you like the flexibility of temporary work, Helpmates can often provide the stability of a full-time job with the flexibility of temp jobs. But if your long-term goal is permanent employment with one employer, temp jobs can be the perfect gateway. Often, employers take advantage of “temp-to-hire” opportunities with firms like Helpmates. That means they hire an employee for a temp job with the option to hire that person as a full time employee at the completion of the contract. This allows the employer to see if potential employees would be a good fit before making a permanent decision, but it also allows YOU the opportunity to determine if there’s a fit. Do your best work in this type of temp job, and if there’s a mutual fit between you and the employer, it could lead to full-time employment (without the risk and uncertainty typically found when starting a new full-time job).

Boredom is typically avoided. If you’re the type of person who likes a fresh challenge and gets bored in the same position for too long, temporary positions (particularly through a staffing partner like Helpmates) offer you the flexibility you crave with the stability of having a career partner on your side. While some temporary positions are six months or longer, some are considerably shorter. Depending on what you’re looking for, your recruiter can help find the best opportunities for your needs, goals and desires.

Testing the waters becomes much easier. Thinking about a career shift? Gaining the necessary experience can be difficult. And do you really know that your new career is the one for you? Temp jobs offer tremendous opportunity to “try out” a new industry, position or employer, so that you can take the time to really know if a full career change is right for you. If you decide that you’re ready to make the jump into a new career, you’ll have a solid foundation of experience to get you started.

Yes, benefits are often available. There is a popular misconception among some professionals that temp workers don’t receive benefits. Here at Helpmates (and at many other firms as well), we offer a robust set of benefits for qualified specialists. These include many of the benefits you would expect and receive from a full-time job, like 401k, insurance, holiday pay and more (Contact your local Helpmates team for more details!). Also, pay is often extremely competitive for temp jobs compared to full-time employees — sometimes it’s even higher.  

Why Temp Jobs Make Sense For Your Career
Why Temp Jobs Make Sense For Your Career
The job market is heating up and employers are looking for more talent - especially for temp jobs. H
3 years ago