Of the many questions candidates can ask potential employers, “What would a typical day look like?” ranks among the most revealing. Here’s why all job seekers should pose it during interviews.
It provides a clearer picture
“Asking the hiring manager the question, ‘What does a typical day look like?’ helps you understand the daily expectations and routine for the role,” says job search strategist Sarah Johnston, founder of the Briefcase Coach. “It helps you assess the quality and quantity of the workload.”
Similarly, hiring managers often talk in generalities. For example, “communicating directly with clients” might actually translate into answering a constantly ringing phone, not working one-on-one to develop new marketing strategies like you hoped. Job satisfaction rests heavily on the actual tasks performed day in and day out, so form a realistic idea from the start of what the position involves.
Johnston recounts an instance when such knowledge would have been useful. “I recently was talking to a job seeker who changed jobs. She was originally in a role that was very administrative. She wanted more interaction with people and hoped to move into a sales role. She interviewed for a sales position and got the job. Unfortunately, she did not have a good understanding of what the job entailed before she accepted it. Even though the title was ‘sales coordinator,’ the position was still very administrative.”
It can uncover red flags
Got an interviewer whose response leaves you confused? Consider the inability to provide a sufficient answer a potential red flag. While some roles don’t easily lend themselves to a consistent set of tasks, too much uncertainty often proves frustrating for a new hire and may signal that management hasn’t really thought enough about expectations for this position.
It offers a glimpse of company culture
As the interviewer talks about an average day, listen for clues about the general work environment. Does the team seem to spend a great deal of time in meetings? Are breaks and lunch mentioned? Which people seem to come up most often as ones with whom you’ll interact (leaders, vendors, remote workers, staff from other departments, etc.)? Answers to these types of questions will help you develop a vibe about work style, relationships, and work-life balance.
It’s a good springboard to further conversation
Finally, remember that hiring managers like thoughtful inquisitiveness. Asking questions during the interview conveys interest in the company and a desire to ensure the match is a good one for both sides. While “What would a typical day look like?” is not the most original question, it’s a solid standard that demonstrates eagerness to learn more. The interviewer’s answer likely will spark other potential questions, leading to a genuine back-and-forth that makes a memorable impression!