If you’re a member of the workforce, then you already know how important making a good first impression during the interview is for securing a position. Through the questions you are asked, you have the opportunity to shine and showcase your most valuable skills. But did you know that you are allowed to make inquiries as well? Regardless of the position you have applied for, showing interest in the job you are offered is essential. This is one of the essential tips for people seeking employment with any other major company. To help you in this direction, we have compiled a list of the top ten questions you should ask to highlight your awareness.

Which skills do you seek in the ideal candidate?

If you only ask one question during your interview, let it be this. This type of open-ended inquiry encourages the recruiter to show their hand and clearly state what the recommended aptitudes for the position are. This is your chance to steer the discussion in the right direction and showcase your qualities even more.

How long have you worked for the company?

Getting a glimpse into the interviewer’s own work experience is a good way to find out more pieces of information on the company without giving off the impression that you didn’t do your research beforehand. This is also your chance to assess your potential lifespan within the firm, as well as how easy or difficult it is to climb up the ranks.

What do you enjoy most about your position?

This question is a great one to pose, as it has double benefits for your image. First of all, you will reinforce the idea that you are genuinely interested in the job. On top of that, it will also emphasize that you are viewing the experience in a positive light to begin with, as you are curious about what the person in front of you likes best about their work.

What professional aptitudes are you most proud of?

Who says that buttering up the interviewer has to be tacky? By asking him or her about the professional aptitudes they are most proud of possessing or having achieved, you will make an excellent first impression while understanding more about what being employed with that particular firm entails.

Can you tell me more about the team I will be working with?

This is another question that enhances the way in which the recruiter sees you in more than one way. Of course, the obvious benefit is that you will clearly highlight how interested you are in working there. However, it is also a way to showcase your self-assurance and wit, as the phrasing carefully implies that you are the right person for the position.

Which qualities can I bring to the table to enhance the team?

To further cash in on the teamwork inquiry, try asking your interviewer what he or she thinks you could bring new to the table as far as the peer dynamic of the firm is concerned. This will let you know which of your qualities stood out, so you can play off of them or move towards other skills that you feel can seal the deal.

How does the company define success?

Asking more personal questions that relate to the person in front of you or refer to your peers is a good way to start, but you will also need to find out more about the company itself. As Monster.com explains, the best way to do that is by requesting to know how those in leadership positions define and quantify employee success.

What are the company’s growth prospects for the next five years?

Anyone who has attended their fair share of job interviews is familiar with the age-old question that forces them to think five years into the future. Why not return the favor? In this way, not only will you show that you are committed to sticking it out until that point, but you will also find out more about the company’s goals and culture.

What is your opinion on my qualifications?

Many career experts strongly recommend asking this during your interview because it’s new, unexpected, and quite gutsy. Be bold and find out how the session went. Many people are afraid to pose such queries, as they don’t really want to know the truth so early on. Show your superiors you are different, and you will surely stand out.

When should I expect to hear back from you?

Unfortunately, there are many companies that don’t even provide candidates with the courtesy call informing them they didn’t get the job. Show interviewers they can’t push you around by asking them this simple, yet disarmingly straightforward question. Not only will you hear back from them, but it will most likely be good news.

The Bottom Line

Your job interview is certainly the place for answering questions, but it’s also an opportunity to ask them yourself. By opening various subjects in an educated and inquisitive manner, you will surely find out more information about the company while showcasing your interest at the same time. This is one step further in evolving in your career, so why not have some courage?

Dianna Howell is a HR Manager. She runs JobInterviewAdvice, a collection of job interview resources for career searchers. Diana graduated from MBA Managerial and Organizational Behavior, the University of Chicago. 

Money isn’t everything. While it’s great to be able to pay all the bills and still treat yourself once in a while, a career is more than a paycheck. You have to be able to love what you do and enjoy your life while you work. If the salary won’t make you rich, there might still be some things in that job offer that mean more than money. Look at everything the employer has to give before you decline a job offer.

Work Life Balance

If you’re a student, a parent, or a passionate hobbyist, work life balance is going to be important to you. If your new job offers plenty of time off, great hours, or flexible scheduling, you’ll be able to live more. Some fields provide better work life balance than others. According to CNBC and Glassdoor, corporate recruiters and UX designers report some of the best work life balance. If your job offer isn’t in one of those fields, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get what you want. If it’s important to you and the salary isn’t what you desired, you can always negotiate for it.

Useful Discounts and Partnerships

If your job winds up saving you money on things you frequently purchase, a slightly smaller salary won’t be a big deal. Plenty of retail jobs boast excellent discounts – Sephora gives its employees 20% off on luxury cosmetics and fragrances, Barnes & Noble offers discounts between 20% and 50% depending on the department, and Trader Joe’s gives their employees 10% off all their groceries and free food while they’re at work.

Some employers might also offer discounts to sister brands or partner companies, extending your savings. Depending on your hobbies and where you like to shop, you might wind up saving a fortune. These kinds of discounts come in useful around the holidays – if you spend $300 on gifts for your friends and family, a mere 20% discount can save you $60 to treat yourself with.

A Wellness Program

Google has the wellness program to end all wellness programs – they even keep doctors and massage therapists on staff.  Even if you’re not working for Google, you can still expect some health help from a great employer. If you’re trying to devote more attention to your health, an employee wellness program will significantly benefit you. Employers that keep you fed with healthy foods and snacks, pay for your gym membership (or have an employee gym on the campus), or run a company sports league might help you achieve your goals. You won’t be torn between your fitness journey and your career success.

The Ability to Work Remotely

Think about those days where you aren’t necessarily sick, but you still don’t feel like getting all dressed up to deal with people. You don’t want to call out of work because you might need those days for an actual emergency. That’s where the ability to work remotely kicks in. If you just need some leisurely time or you want to be able to work while you’re attending an out-of-town wedding, consider an employer that will give you the freedom to do so.

Many employers in fields that heavily rely on computers, medical billing and coding, insurance agencies, web design, graphic design, app development, and customer service all have remote work opportunities.

Great Company Culture

If the salary is great but your coworkers are as pleasant to deal with as pulling teeth, you’re going to hate your job. Nothing can trump company culture. The environment you work in, the way teams collaborate, and the strength of communication from the top down will affect the way everyone works. In order to create a harmonious company cultures, employees need to have values and a mission statement that every employee believes in. This facilitates the unity and the team spirit necessary for everyone to have a great working experience.

One of the best examples of company culture is Zappos. The shoe company pays people to quit after training if they don’t think they’ll thrive in their work environment, and cultural fit accounts for 50% of the hiring decision. They only want people who will work well together towards a goal they all believe in. This is the greatest motivator possible, and it amounts to a fulfilling career.

Room For Advancement

A starting salary may be low until you’ve proven yourself. If you have your eyes set on a position more important than the one you were initially offered, it may be worthwhile to take what you’re offered and work your way up. Before you accept a job offer, talk to the person who gave it to you. Ask if there’s any room from growth within the company and what the trajectory will look like. If you aren’t starting in a dead end position, your salary will inevitably increase with your prestige. The ability to become a key player in an organization always outranks the starting offer.

Educational Opportunities

Some companies offer tuition reimbursement, making them perfect choices for students who need to further their education in order to land their dream positions. If you’re working to put yourself through school as a means of achieving a better career opportunity, there are plenty of companies who would love to help you do that – and many of them will be waiting to offer you that better opportunity after you’ve graduated.


Before you turn your nose up at a job offer, consider how much you stand to gain that doesn’t come affixed to a dollar sign. If the career is a great place for you to learn, grow, and focus on your goals, money cannot purchase that opportunity.

Rachel Jackson is a mother of 2 beautiful boys. She loves to hike and write about travelling, education and business. She is a Senior Content Manager at Bizset.com – an online resource of relevant business information.

Have you ever considered a career in writing? You may or may not have formal training and wonder if you have what it takes to make a full-time career from something that you love. Whether it is through monetizing a personal blog or landing a job with a magazine, if the idea of writing excites you, you will love this interview with Rachel Werner.

Rachel is the digital editor of Brava Magazine a Wisconsin-based publication and a freelance writer, and the social media manager of “The Celebration Society, another subsidiary of Nei Turner Media Group. Not only that’s she’s also a fitness instructor, health coach and a 2016-17 national WomenRide4Change Ambassador! Her passionate commitment to holistic wellness and sustainable agriculture keeps her a Midwestern girl at heart.

In this interview, she shares how she went from blogging to becoming a published writer in both regional and national publications. As she mentions in this interview, it is “okay to struggle” while pursuing your craft, but it is possible to follow your dream of becoming a writer.

Hi Rachel! Would you tell our readers a little about you and your role with BRAVA Magazine?

I am currently the digital editor of BRAVA, a Wisconsin-based magazine created by women for women and subsidiary of Nei-Turner Media Group. I’m also the social media manager of another Nei-Turner publication and brand, The Celebration Society, for which I curate trending wedding content and engaging event images aimed at increasing the visibility of The Celebration Society’s brand.

In particular, I enjoy overseeing the culinary, arts, fashion and beauty coverage in my current roles and has previously contributed print, photography and video content for other media outlets around the country such as Madison Magazine, Big Life, Entrepreneurial Chef and Hobby Farms Magazine—all while maintaining side gigs as a fitness pro, a 2016-2017 national cycling WomenRide4Change Ambassador and a 2017 World Food Championships Top Ten Finalist judge.

You have been a freelance writer for several years, can you tell us a little about that?

A precarious mix of passion and life circumstance served as the impetus for the career arc I am currently on. In hindsight, writing seems to have continuously intersected with my academic, professional and/or personal pursuits on some level even when it wasn’t necessarily the primary focus. I also do not have a degree in journalism or English (I common question I am asked).

But seven years ago, I found myself grappling with a significant number of life shifts: a divorce, single parenting, transitioning from a social work position at a nonprofit into the fitness industry. As a coping mechanism, I began to daily transfer my concerns, emotions and observations “onto the page” as a way of processing life. What began as mere journaling evolved into blogging, which then sparked a curiosity to see if I could further hone my writing skills and perhaps supplement my income via this blossoming delight.

I decided to take a writing working through University of Wisconsin-Madison’s continuing education studies department. I did not know it at the time, but that one decision would serve as the biggest catalyst for launching my freelance career. People often ask how I “did it.” And the honest truth is I literally followed almost verbatim the tips and seasoned advice the instructor shared on how to determine a writing niche, pitch articles and connect with editors. And it worked! Within three years, I went from being virtually unknown as a blogger to becoming a published writer in numerous regional and national publications and the assistant editor at BRAVA.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before pursuing a career in writing?

The one thing that I wish I had known before I started to seriously consider writing as an occupation is that it really is okay to struggle for a stretch in pursuit of your craft. And that writing can have tremendous VALUE on a personal and professional level, filled with objectives for both that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Also, the power of networking. DO NOT EVER underestimate the potential impact of foraging connections within and outside of your current sector or industry and where that could potentially lead.

What tactics do you use when writing? Do you outline or do you simply sit down and start writing?

Probably my most “signature” hallmark as a writer is that I almost always take notes by hand. I also never audio record subjects when I interview them or “google” them before we meet or speak via phone. I prefer my impressions and interactions to be as organic as possible. I think it helps me retain details more clearly once I am ready to compose the piece. I have a myriad of journals I make notations in, which merely serve as a reference point if needed once the actual writing begins. I also rarely delete an email, preferring instead to file most correspondence away in digital folders, rendering it easily accessible if early communications could potentially shed light on an event, person and/or topic down the road.

Do you have tips on how we could become better writers?

If you want to become a better writer, seek out ways to receive regular feedback on your work. Join a writing group or enroll in a workshop or an intensive like The Fifth Semester or Upod Academy. Public libraries, colleges, writer associations and book festivals can also all be useful resources for finding this sort of info. By no means does one need to pursue a MFA degree, but if that resonates with you on some level, GO FOR IT! The most important thing is to connect with others just as invested in this art form—and to carve out time to write on a consistent basis.

How do you stay inspired?

I stay inspired by reading: classics, memoirs, picture books…I love it all! I almost never watch TV unless it’s a sports event or I am at the gym working out so books are my primary way to “disconnect” or wind down at day’s end. Also, a long-term goal of mine is to become a published author. I currently have two first drafts of contemporary fiction that I am plugging along on and three children’s books I am revising and pitching to editors.

What words of encouragement or wisdom would you like to share with a woman just starting off in this industry?

The best advice I have to share is the same wisdom which was imparted to me early on: “Get comfortable with rejection because you’re going to hear a lot of ‘NO’s’. But as long as you keep refining your ideas and pitches, eventually someone IS going to like one of your ideas enough to give you a shot.”

You can follow Rachel’s adventures around the country on Instagram: @therealscript.

Have you ever felt discontent in your job and considered branching out on your own? I think that thought has crossed a lot of our minds but with it comes fear about leaving a place of safety and security for something unknown.

Laura Gmeinder found herself in that place. She was a successful Human Resources director for a popular American brand for over fourteen years. Truthfully, she enjoyed her job, but the thought of quitting and going into business for herself as a consultant would not leave her. After coaching on the side for a few years she decided to take the leap and go full time.

In our interview, I asked Laura about leaving the safety of her corporate job and how she was able to venture into the unknown by starting her own business. She gives powerful insight on how to overcome self doubt, take a leap of faith, and even gain your first client.

Hi Laura! Would you tell our readers a little about you and your consulting business?

Professionally you can find me at the intersection of leadership development and business strategy. I lean on my degree in adult education from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, coach training from CTI, HR background and business savvy to provide leadership coaching and training, business consulting and motivational speaking. I’m always looking to one up my skill set. Currently, I am enrolled in a high level laser coach training program with Master Coach Marion Franklin.

I’m also a writer and filmmaker. My passion is female empowerment; I support emerging leaders and female entrepreneurs.  In addition, I am the Vice President of Disrupt Madison and Disrupt Milwaukee. Disrupt’s signature event focuses on empowering thought leaders to change the world of work. I’m also in leadership for the Doyenne Group, a women’s entrepreneurial movement that started in Madison, Wisconsin.

I’m high energy and love variety. I’m a Libra so I am always searching for balance which can leave me feeling conflicted or just going with the flow so I have to reflect on my decision. In my free time I enjoy spending time with family and friends, traveling (I love the ocean), hiking with my poodle, baking, attending community events, trying new restaurants and volunteering.

I like vodka (which I refer to as Russian water). Quirky is interesting. I’m very spiritual and regularly focus on what I am grateful for to keep my perspective positive. I’m future focused. “Starting” excites me but I lose enthusiasm with routine. After years of trying to figure *it* out, I’m finally living the interesting life I always craved, in the spirit of “Do one thing every day that scares you.”  I’ve given up my search for Prince Charming and look forward to meeting Mr .Right-for-me when the time comes. I wake up every day and for a second I’m pleasantly surprised to find this is the life I am leading. And that, more than anything, makes me feel like a success.

Your website states that you loved your job in human resources, but chose to pursue your own business as a consultant. What led you down that path?

At my company, growth opportunities were only available in Michigan at our parent company and I had no interest in moving to Detroit.  That’s over simplifying it, but to make the impact I wanted to make in the corporate world I would have needed to relocate to our parent company. My situation is very typical. Women are leaving the corporate world in their mid 30s due to lack of advancement opportunities or because they are not offered enough flexibility to raise their family.

I looked for years at job postings while building my skill sets on the side (I started coaching about 7 1/2 years ago). After finishing my year as president of a women’s non profit I was challenged with the question, “What are you going to do next? That question combined with the fact that in my corporate role big changes were coming, a new President who had never held the role, I decided it was the perfect time to take my side gig to the main event. I gave notice to my employer and within a week had my first consulting client. And I never looked back.

How did you get your first consulting client? Do you have any advice on getting your “first” client?

A friend mentioned during a happy hour conversation that she had a meeting with someone who had a similar business to the one I was creating and then never heard back from her.  I slept on that nugget and by the morning I realized if I can’t offer my services to my friend how am I ever going to be successful? If you can’t sell you don’t have a business.

I put together an email sharing how I could support her and courageously asked for a meeting to discuss it. She said yes. The one rule we had for working together was that our friendship would always come first. Since then, we have worked on several successful projects over the years.  

My advice on how to get your first client is to believe in yourself and clearly communicate what value you provide. When you get started it’s so much about your passion and asking people to support you.  I scored my first coaching client by sending an email to 100 friends/family/acquaintances sharing about my passion for coaching and who I wanted to help. A friend of my cousin’s immediately thought of his sister who was stuck personally and professionally and connected us.

What have you enjoyed about running your own business?

Everything! (Truth: I loathe the accounting piece). I’ve discovered that my sense of adventure, love of variety, and ability to handle risk make me well suited for the entrepreneur life. My blind spot is, I am so future focused I always think tomorrow, next month, or next year will be better (which typically is) but it leaves me vulnerable and often not pivoting fast enough.  

What I love most is seeing my clients lives change. For example, I had lunch with one of my first clients the other day (who is now a dear friend).  The lady in front of me was almost unrecognizable from the lady I met almost six years ago. She is confident, down 50+ pounds, and she speaks up for herself which has improved her relationships with her family and friends. She went back to school, wrote a thesis, got her masters degree, and started a business. I’m blown away by her courage, determination, and ambition.  

It’s inspiring and it energizes me to know that in a small way I was able to support her during a period of significant growth. It’s beautiful to see what happens when someone believes in themselves and takes action to go from dreaming to doing.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

The hardest thing was the inconsistent income. My self worth felt tied to my income and moving past that mental block is hard. For example, I had one month where I made nothing, NOTHING. It was so frustrating. I was working so hard. When business wasn’t working out the way I thought it would I was so stressed and down on myself.

Because money was a hot topic in my relationship I hid it from my (now ex) boyfriend which made it worse. However I am very future-focused, so I always was optimistic that I was planting seeds even if nothing was growing.  Often after a month like that, I would have one of my biggest months. It was just how the money came in. I had to learn to chase opportunity without attachment and separate effort from results. As an entrepreneur, there are so many things out of my control. While I set monthly goals, I really focus on my annual goal and strategies along the way that will help me reach it. That big picture focus has empowered me to double year over year in 2017 and set a goal to do that again in 2018.

What is the best leadership advice that you have ever been given?

Make sure you are running towards something, not away from something (my last and favorite boss challenged me to reflect on that). I appreciate that she gave me that advice as I was transitioning from the corporate environment into my business full time. It challenged me to pause and think about it. Truthfully I was doing a little of both and am grateful I found everything I needed and more in my entrepreneurial journey.

How can we best empower this next generation of women?

By setting an example, you never know who is watching. Encouraging women to discover their potential and then  lean into it. When you take action and build on small wins you quickly gain confidence which empowers you to take bigger risks.  

This is my calling and why I am proud to share that I am co-producing a short documentary, “If You Don’t, Who Will? Empowered Women Empowering Women” on this subject with Coreyne Woodman-Holoubek.  It’s such an important focus! It’s hard to lead and it’s something we need to focus on every day.  I always ask myself, “how do I want to show up?”. And it’s one of the reasons I was named one of 2018’s Woman to Watch by BRAVA Magazine.

If a reader feels stuck in her current employment, what advice would you give her?

Get to know yourself. What do you like? What do you dislike? Try something new. Also, reflecting on what is holding you back will give you some insights as to why you feel stuck.  My challenge was that I hadn’t processed my emotions, which kept me stuck because it was safe.  If you can figure out what you are good at and what you like to do, and find a job or start a business at the intersection you will be fulfilled.

You went to university, picked a course, got the degree and now you’ve been working for a while… but for some reason, your job isn’t quite satisfying. You want to do something more, something different, but it all seems so overwhelming.

Or perhaps you’ve taken some time off from work—time for yourself, or time for children. Now you’re ready to return, but it’s nerve-wracking given all the time away. Is that job you used to do still what you want to do? Does it accommodate the changes in your life?

It won’t be easy, and it will require dedication and determination, but you can start working towards the career you want today.

Know what you want

What is it that excites you? Would it make you jump out of bed in the morning? We all have a big list of things we enjoy doing, but not all of those will inspire you enough to keep at them when things get tough.

Whatever it is you choose to you, it must align with your core values, and be something you would still want to do—even if you never had to work another day in your life. If you need some guidance, download our free Passion Discovery printables for exercises to find what gives your life its spark!

Decide what to sacrifice

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Time is limited, and so is your energy. What will you choose to stop doing, so that you have time to start doing whatever it is that will get you to the career you want?

This could be anything from cutting down on weekly breakfast out with friends, foregoing movie night, taking one less fitness class a week, or even pushing dinner duties to your significant other. The important thing is that you set aside time to work on creating your future.

Skill up

It seems obvious, and there’s no getting around it—you’ll need to gain or develop the skills you need to pursue your passion. Not only do you need the technical skills in the field, as well as leadership skills, but if you’re planning on running your own side-hustle, you also need the business skills.

Thankfully, in this day and age, there are lots of options available. For example, Southern Cross University offers many 100% online courses, which enable you to study at your own time and pace, even while you continue to work. They also provide a dedicated Student Success Advisor, who is there to support you from start to finish.

An MBA online course is perfect for those looking to grow as leaders and managers, and understand business fundamentals. It’s one of the most affordable MBAs in Australia and has flexible entry and exit options. This means you can stop your studies at certain points throughout the degree, yet still earn a postgraduate certificate or diploma.

Network even before you begin

Don’t wait until you’ve started to network. Go to relevant industry events while you’re still in the planning or dreaming stage, and get chatting! There are people at these events who’ve already walked the path you’re about to embark on, so there are opportunities to glean some great advice. If you’re truly passionate about what you want to do, these people will be able to see that–and respond.

You might also come across others in the same place as you, who are starting out and are as new and unsure as you. Don’t dismiss them, because it’s invaluable to have others to share the journey with. They’re amazing support; they’ll be going through similar highs and lows, and will be as hungry as you to make it.

Stay determined

No one ever said it was going to be easy. Changing direction, learning new skills and pushing your mind to work in new and different ways will always be challenging. There’ll be days where you wonder what possessed you to take this journey, and days where you want to give up. But the important thing is to keep pushing. Every time you fail, get up and keep going. That’s how wars are won—and there’s no more important war than the one for your future!


This article was created in partnership with Southern Cross University.