A Two-Way Street: Bringing Conversation Into the Interview

Lily Cedarbaum

Lily Cedarbaum

As a college student in NYC, I quickly got sucked into the world of television internships and became addicted to it right away. Starting off in Corporate Communications at NBC Universal, I eventually networked my way into internships at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Joy Behar, The New York Television Festival, Doctor Oz, and Saturday Night Live. While I loved my internships at high-profile networks and festivals, I was excited to branch out and try something off-beat after graduation. To shake things up, I spent a few months living in Los Angeles, where I spent time freelancing and meeting with contacts before finding my way back to New York for a job at MindSmack TV.

The entertainment industry is a hard field to navigate, and I am excited to be a part of The Media Chronicles to assist others along the way!
Lily Cedarbaum

Even if you are at a place in your job search where you’ll take whatever offer comes your way, there are a few necessary considerations that will help you develop thoughtful questions to ask in an interview.

“And do you have any questions for us?”

Truth be told, I used to consider this interview bullet-point as an unnecessary formality. Websites everywhere suggested insincere blanket questions you could use with little alteration. I, myself, used to desire any job in my industry, and no additional company information would sway me otherwise.

However, since then, I’ve learned the value of finding out the details of any prospective employer. The interview ideally should have both parties in testing phase; if a company wants you, it will want to be assured the feeling is mutual. As many industry insiders have warned me from experience, it’s best to consider the fit of the opportunity before you dive right in.

The job search can leave even the most confident without any sense of self-worth. However, if you allow yourself agency and autonomy, you will have a better chance of avoiding career missteps and find the company that’s your perfect fit. Even if you are at a place in your job search where you’ll take whatever offer comes your way, there are a few necessary considerations that will not only help you develop thoughtful questions to ask in an interview, but will also gauge if the job opportunity meets your requirements and disguise any interview desperation you may harbor.

 

Do They Fit Your Desired Company Profile?

Every employee thrives best under a different set of conditions; for example, we all have that friend who takes pleasure in working long, anxiety-filled hours with a codependent boss. If you don’t have that friend, chances are you are that friend.

Either way, you should know for what you are looking in an ideal “mate” and consider what company characteristics would accomplish as much. Large or small company? Slow or fast tempo? How many supervisors would you want to answer to? How heavy or mentally challenging a workload would you prefer? If you know what office climate naturally attracts you, then you can actively pursue only the opportunities that fit, thus trimming the fat off your search.

Questions to ask an interview:

  • What kind of energy are you looking for in a candidate for this position?
  • How many departments/ supervisors would this position support?
  • Would this position involve overtime or additional opportunities to get involved with company projects?
  • What is a typical workday like?

 

Room for Growth?

Especially for those workers who are looking for a long-term position, finding out the company’s history of internal promotion allows you to see if it could be in the cards for you down the line. It may appear to be thinking too far ahead, but wanting this knowledge should be allowed, when the moment you accept a position you are signing on for at least a year with a company you just met. It’s like going on a first date and then agreeing to move in together.

If you’re going to get into bed with this company, shouldn’t you be able to find out how rewarding it will be first? Not only will your curiosity about promotion highlight your drive, but it will also prove to interviewers you have interest in sticking around. Similarly, it’s fair game to research the company’s growth. How old is the company, and how many new employees or departments have been established in the last year? If the company has downsized or remained stagnant, beware.

Questions to ask in an interview:

  • Would you say your company promotes from within?
  • Is there an opportunity for job growth with this position? And in what directions do you see this position developing? (Make sure it’s a direction that interests you.)

 

The Logistics

These are the sticky questions we hate to ask, but the ones that matter most in the long haul. You’re going to need a good insurance plan, and ideally a company that will pay for it. Just as important are the amount of vacation and sick days you receive, though it’s nearly impossible to ask that question without coming off as lazy. Salary specifics are a real nail-biter as well, if they are not given out immediately. Larger companies will often postpone that information until you meet with HR personnel.

These are all necessary details that will determine if you can afford to accept the position. If you don’t feel comfortable asking these questions, you may be able to get an idea of their answers through research about the company. Most websites suggest not asking these specifics until you are offered the position. However, there are a few tactful ways of asking these questions without putting your interviewer on edge.

Questions to ask in an interview:

  • Why is the position currently available?
  • When are you looking to fill the position, and how much training will be involved?
  • How would you describe the company’s relationship with its employees?

 

You size up every other investment in time or money before you make a decision. You try on a pair of jeans before you buy them. You date casually before you commit. You analyze ingredients before you order at a restaurant. Yes, the job interview is a way for employers to assess your skills and qualifications; however, it is also a conversation. You have agency in this process. Remember that, and the subsequent confidence and interest you exude will land you a job that fits perfectly.

Lily Cedarbaum

As a college student in NYC, I quickly got sucked into the world of television internships and became addicted to it right away. Starting off in Corporate Communications at NBC Universal, I eventually networked my way into internships at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Joy Behar, The New York Television Festival, Doctor Oz, and Saturday Night Live. While I loved my internships at high-profile networks and festivals, I was excited to branch out and try something off-beat after graduation. To shake things up, I spent a few months living in Los Angeles, where I spent time freelancing and meeting with contacts before finding my way back to New York for a job at MindSmack TV. The entertainment industry is a hard field to navigate, and I am excited to be a part of The Media Chronicles to assist others along the way!

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