Many Canadian tech workers are back on the job market after a wave of layoffs hit the industry, and tech companies are scooping them up rapidly. Despite the demand, there’s a new level of caution amongst layoff-weary job seekers who are concerned about investing their time in companies that aren’t profitable, and prospective employees are wondering: what questions can they ask to ensure that they find the right fit at a stable organization?
What questions to ask your potential employer in the current labour market
In this market, we’re seeing a unique combination of a labour shortage and nerves surrounding company stability and layoffs. It’s important, and fair, to ask your potential employer about the stability of your prospective company. While this might have been an uncommon question in the past, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to today’s interviewers.
Employers know that the tech industry is experiencing some turbulence, and they should expect a question or two about their ability to weather the storm. This can be gauged through questions surrounding recent company layoffs, growth trajectory, and successful milestones that have been recently achieved (such as acquisitions, new product launches, or goal achievements). Questions can also be asked about how many new employee headcounts the company has added in the last year, or plans for growth in the next year (as opposed to backfills). Positive responses to these topics are an indicator of a healthy, growing business.
When it comes to career growth, it’s important to ensure your employer is willing to invest in your future. Ask questions about what type of professional development is available, what type of mentorship you will be provided with, and what a career trajectory could look like for you at the company. It’s also important to ask for examples of career progression paths that employees in similar roles have had at the company. These questions will help provide insight into whether or not there are opportunities for you to learn and grow at the company.
Lastly, in this competitive market, employers are getting increasingly creative with benefits, perks, and flexible working conditions. Ask for a solid breakdown of what the company offers. Many people will be surprised by some of the amazing non-traditional perks and incentives that tech employers are offering their teams.
Best practices when asking tough questions in a job interview
When asking tough questions in a job interview, it’s important to communicate the “why.” Clarify that you are inquiring about the stability of the company because you want to find an employer to grow with over the coming years. Companies looking for dedicated, long-term employees will see this as a positive sign.
It’s also important to have respectful boundaries when asking employers these questions. Though these questions are more common in the current market, it’s still important to respect that some information is not public. Find indirect ways to gauge stability without asking for confidential, financial information.
What it takes for a successful interview
One of the keys to a successful interview is to be prepared. Everyone is unique in what makes them tick when it comes to a career. Take the time to reflect on what’s most important to you in your next role and the next company you join—prior to your interview. Job seekers should have questions ready to ask that will help shed light on whether or not the opportunity is a good fit. Find what work environment works best for you, and come to interviews prepared with questions based on this knowledge. This might include questions about promotional movement, compensation, flexible work arrangements, social culture or all of the above.
Lastly, preparing for an interview should involve research about the company you’re interviewing with. This is where you will come across any potential red flags that you might want to dive into a bit deeper during your interview.
Despite the doom and gloom in the news, there are plenty of opportunities out there in the Canadian tech landscape. Canada is in the midst of a tech talent shortage, and because of this, job seekers have the opportunity to shop around and find the employer that’s most aligned with their professional and personal goals. The market is still favourable for employees and there’s no need to be reactive and put your hand up for the first offer. If you ask the right questions, communicate the ‘why,’ and come prepared, you’ll be setting yourself up for success and a flourishing, new career.