A job interview isn't a one-way selection process. For graduates, it's particularly important to decide if your first job is the right move for you, and a competent candidate should have some pertinent questions to ask the hiring manager. If you're preparing for your first interview, think about the questions you intend to pose with the following three suggestions.
What does a typical career path look like here?
When you've studied for several years at a university, you want the certainty that you have a challenging and valuable career ahead of you, so it's reasonable to find out if you can expect one. Probe the interviewer to find out what a graduate career pathway could look like, paying specific attention to the following:
Any talent management scheme that can help steer you as your career progresses.
A structured approach that matches people to the right roles and encourages managers to move the best people around.
Diversity that will quickly allow you to gain the skills you need to develop your potential.
Some interviewers will tell you that there's no 'typical' career path, and that's fine, as long as there is a structured approach. However, if it sounds like the company lacks the foresight and planning to give you what you need, you may want to look elsewhere.
Who will support me as I progress?
Some graduates find that they don't have the support they need to progress. Realistically, to succeed, you will need support from various quarters, so don't hold faith in a hiring manager who singles out one person that will have responsibility for you. You need support from a coach, a mentor, a manager and more besides. Carefully weigh up your options if you think you may end up isolated.
Where will the company be in five years? And ten?
If you're going to invest your time in a company, you need the assurance that it has the long-term strategy to justify your commitment. While nobody can specifically predict the future, a good employer will have a five and ten-year business strategy.
Find out how the company intends to progress. There are plenty of reasonable directions, which will vary according to the sector you want to work in. However, if it sounds like the hiring manager thinks things will progress as they are or cannot passionately describe the company's future state, you may not want to invest your future with this employer.
It isn't always easy to decide which company to start your career with following a university education. Talk to a skilled recruitment consultant for more advice.