Differentiate Yourself in an Interview by Asking About Performance Management

This is a guest post by Stanley Janas, previous Director of HR at Halogen Software:

It can sometimes be hard to differentiate yourself in a job interview. I mean really… everyone is going to talk about stuff that relates to the posted job description and all the skills and experience they have.

Here’s a few thoughts about a different way to make yourself stand out and show your commitment to your work:

  • Ask the interviewer about how the organization manages employee performance. This can be a great question if you’re being interviewed by someone from HR, but it works with managers as well. A good company will have a defined performance management process that includes performance appraisals at least once a year. The best companies manage performance year round; they might do this informally, or they might have quarterly or semi-annual “mini reviews.” You want to show that you’re interested in the process and value that kind of thing.
  • Ask about how they measure employee performance, how feedback is given and when, how they align individual goals to organizational goals, what they consider to be the key competencies for the role and for the company. This again comes down to how they manage performance. You’re trying to communicate your knowledge and understanding about how important each of these things is. It’s a measure of your engagement as an employee.
  • You can also ask about what they do for employee development. Do they have a learning management system? Is it linked to employee performance? These questions will help you get an understanding of their commitment to employee development. But they also demonstrate your interest in continuously developing your skills and expertise to help the company.

Asking these questions helps you figure out what kind of support you’re going to get as an employee, and how much the company values its employees. But they also help to show your interviewer(s) that you’re really into your work. Smart companies are looking for engaged employees who are committed to high performance.

When the economy was good and employers were having trouble finding qualified people, some of them started using their performance reviews or talent management processes as a way to differentiate themselves. Now that times are tough, I suggest you turn the tables and do the same.

Stanley Janas was Director of HR at Halogen Software.

3 thoughts on “Differentiate Yourself in an Interview by Asking About Performance Management”

  1. Excellent post. I think I will add one or two of these questions to my interviewing “Do you have any questions?” questions. I most like the questions about aligning employee & company goals and if and how they attend to employee development needs.

  2. I’m sure that asking about performance management can be impressive, but I don’t think it would be at every company. Flip side: What if you were to ask these questions and get unclear, incomplete, contradictory, or unsatisfactory answers? If you really care about how performance is measured and how much weight the company gives to employee development, think twice about your interest in the job.

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