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An Executive Coach Says Practically Everyone Forgets to Ask the Job Interview Question That Exposes a Big Red Flag

But definitely should.

Image by ThomasVogel/ Getty Images

By Shana Lebowitz

As a workplace strategist for two decades, Erica Keswin saw the job market slowly shift from “bottom up” to “top down.”

That is to say: While the onus was once on employees to steer the course of their professional development, employers are now partly responsible for making sure they’re giving people the resources to grow.

According to Keswin, who was an executive coach at New York University’s Stern School of Business and is the author of the coming book “Bring Your Human to Work,” if a company doesn’t care to provide these resources, that could be a red flag — and one you should spot sooner rather than later.

As you progress in the interview process with a new company (i.e., not in the first interview), Keswin said, you should ask the hiring manager, “Can you describe your approach to professional development?”

Keswin said that “companies are becoming less and less surprised” to hear these types of questions. For one thing, the unemployment rate is near a record low, so companies are having a harder time attracting top talent.

What’s more, millennials and Gen Zers have been vocal about wanting regular feedback on their performance. Indeed, more and more companies are overhauling the annual performance review, replacing it with ongoing-feedback systems.

So you want to make sure the company where you’re interviewing is getting with the times.

“If it’s a culture where you get there and you don’t have a formal or even informal discussion about your career and what you want until the end of the year,” Keswin said, that’s not a great sign. “From a coaching and professional-development standpoint, it’s not going to be a great fit.”

On Glassdoor’s blog, Caroline Gray recommended asking something specific about your career advancement, such as: “I’m interested in growing my skills in SEO strategy and then applying that new knowledge to create more tailored marketing content. Is there space in this role for that kind of professional-development opportunity?”

All that said, once you land the job and have settled into your new role, you’ll still want to initiate regular conversations with your manager. Specifically, you’ll want to discuss your performance, your career goals, and your interests beyond your current job.

“Realize that this is a two-way street,” Keswin said.

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