Q: I am going for a job in a company that’s undergoing significant changes right now. It’s a well-known company in a sector that is currently in a state of flux due to technological changes. Like many others, I am fascinated to find out what plans the company has to keep themselves relevant and profitable in the future. Would it be permissible for me to ask some questions about those plans in the job interview? (HR, email)
A: The simple answer is: Yes.
The interviewers might choose not to divulge much, but my feeling is they will be impressed by your desire to have a broadly-based, intelligent discussion on the future of their sector, and, by extension, their company.
Your questions will set you apart as someone who thinks about their sector. You could even throw in a few ideas of your own as to how the company might re-shape itself for present and future challenges. If the sector is as topsy-turvy as you are implying, chances are those at the heart of it are scrambling around to find the right way to go.
Don’t get in over your head, and don’t suggest ideas that have already been tried and failed (unless you have a significant new angle), but, by all means, seek to engage them in a discussion on the future. The company is going to need people who think seriously about the future.
Technological and economic changes in recent times have put many companies on the back foot. Many senior people know that technology presents opportunity aplenty, but they often struggle to define and catch that opportunity.
They’ll be delighted to take on someone who is looking to define the opportunity too – and don’t be disheartened if they kick to touch on the day for reasons of confidentiality.
Sli Nua Careers top tip
If you’re changing from one sector to another, please strip-search and de-commission your CV with immediate effect.
Acronyms, phrases and general ‘speak’ that relates to one sector will almost certainly not apply to another.
So while everyone in the finance world knows what CPA means, to others in a different sphere, it might be Communications and Public Affairs, Comprehensive Peace Agreement or, perish the thought, Collaboration-Protocol Agreement.
One man’s CPC (Cost Per Click) is another’s Climate Prediction Centre or, indeed, Crisis Pregnancy Centre.
Various other elements of your CV can appear very obscure to the uninitiated. Given that you want to ‘draw in’ the employer or recruiter, rather than exclude them, it is highly advisable that you simplify your CV wherever you can. A general rule of all job-hunting processes (most notably CVs and interviews) is that if you want the employer or recruiter to know something, you should be explicit in how you say or write the words.
That way, you leave little room for ambiguity or misunderstanding. That’s the MO we recommend here, and when we say MO we don’t mean the default number plate of a certain western county, the postal abbreviation for Missouri, or Metal Oxide.
Sli Nua Careers offer CV writing, interview training, mock interview and career direction services at their offices in Galway, Dublin and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. They hold a free Online Interview Training Workshop every Wednesday evening (6.30-7.15pm). To register, visit www.slinuacareers.com/interview-workshop