How to Assure Growth Opportunities Exist During an Interview

When most people think of a job interview, it’s usually in terms of “How should I answer the questions I’m asked?” But what if you have questions of your own? More specifically, questions about the chance for advancement within the company? Certain businesses are more open to advancement within their ranks than others—here are a few questions you should ask to get a feel for whether the position you are interested in has career growth opportunities.

How to Assure Growth

“How do you encourage good employees to grow in this position?”

The keyword (or actually “code word”) here is “growth.” This is an industry term that most often means “promotion.” While it may seem a bit presumptuous to ask about promotions before you even get the job, a solid employer will want to show off how they retain good employees—and that means promotions! If the interviewer mentions anything about offering professional development, additional experience opportunities, or continued education for its employees? That’s a great sign.

 “How would you compensate an employee who went above and beyond?”

Ask your interviewer questions about what kind of benchmarks your employer expects you to reach in the position you are interviewing for. Then move on to asking about what would happen were someone (aka: you) to exceed those expectations. This shows you have your personal bar set high, as well as gives the employer an opportunity to explain the career trajectory of high achievers within the company.

 “How often do senior roles become available for consideration?”

This is a straightforward one, since there is really only one reason you would be asking this question. But it’s never a bad thing to let potential employers know you have your eye on the prize, and you are willing to work hard to get there. Ideally, senior roles would become available at fairly regular, years-long increments—keep in mind a senior turnover rate that happens too quickly may seem to indicate your opportunity for advancement could come up sooner rather than later—but more likely points to volatility in the corporation’s upper ranks.

 “What different avenues for career growth does your company offer?”

You don’t want to get stuck having to go one very specific route on your way to promotion. Hired suggests the ideal company would have several different paths on offer you could take in order to be promoted, as well as “a variety of senior roles that you’re interested in.” This gives you some degree of flexibility in both the type of career growth you are looking for, as well as in the ways you can go about making it happen. After all, the more options are on the table to help get you where you want to go, the more likely you are to ultimately reach your goal.

“How do your company values play a part in compensating and promoting employees?”

Company culture, and making sure it fits your work style, is an extremely important point to assess during an interview. Fast Company points out that if a company “flat-out says it values one skill over another, it is not going to invest promotions and raises in someone with those unvalued skills.” Therefore, this question helps determine whether your strengths (whether that’s working individually, being a great team player, possessing great social skills, etc.) match with those the company itself desires.

There are plenty of questions you should be asking during a job interview. If climbing the corporate ladder is on your long-term goal list, you definitely need to include a query in there that covers the potential for advancement. Better to turn down a job entirely than to accept one in which you are unwittingly locked into the same position for years. It’s your career, so take charge!

Search for your next job now:


Back to listing

The Washington Post Jobs Newsletter

Subscribe to the latest news about DC's jobs market