Saturday, September 30, 2006

Questions You Should Ask in Your Job Interview

Always prepare questions to ask.

Having no questions prepared sends the message that you have not been thinking about the job.

Avoid asking questions that are clearly answered on the employer's web site and/or in any literature provided by the employer to you in advance. This would simply reveal that you did not prepare for the interview, and you are wasting the employer's time by asking these questions. Never ask about salary and benefits issues until those subjects are raised by the employer.

Remember that an interview is a two-way conversation. For you, the interview has two purposes: One, to sell yourself, and two, to evaluate the position. After asking questions, the interviewer usually invites you to ask questions.

By asking informed questions, such as the following, you not only gain knowledge about the potential employer, but you also make a good impression:
  • What is the size of the division, sales volume, earnings?
  • Does the company plan to expand? What are the company's strengths and weaknesses compared to its competition?
  • What are the significant trends in the industry?
  • Could you explain your organizational structure?
  • Can you discuss your take on the company’s corporate culture? What are the company’s values?
  • How would you characterize the management philosophy of this organization?
  • Are any acquisitions, divestitures, or proxy fights on the horizon?
  • What do you think is the greatest opportunity facing the organization in the near future? The biggest threat?
  • How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? And by whom? How often?
  • Would there be opportunities for advancement, and, how long before I might be considered for one?
  • What qualities do you prize the most in those that report directly to you?
  • How does the organization rank within its field?
  • What is the reputation of the department (or facility) to which I am applying?
  • How is this department (or facility) perceived within the organization (or corporation)?
  • What have been its goals in the last year, and, did it meet them?
  • What would be the goals of the department (or facility) in the coming year?
  • Do you think those are aggressive or conservative goals? Who set them?
  • What problems or difficulties are present in the department (or facility) now?
  • What are the most important problems to solve first?
  • What will be the greatest challenge in the job?
  • What are the greatest strengths of this department and company?
  • What would you expect me to accomplish in this job?
  • What is your management style?
  • How often would we meet together?
  • What responsibilities have the highest priority?
  • Can you describe a typical day for someone in this position?
  • How might these responsibilities and priorities change?
  • How much time should be devoted to each area of responsibility?
  • What qualifications are you looking for in the person who fills this job?
  • What are some examples of the achievements of others who have been in this position?
  • How many people have held this job in the last five years? Where are they now?
  • Why isn't this job being filled from within?
  • What is the history of this position?
  • What are the traits and skills of people who are the most successful within the organization?
  • If this position is offered to me, why should I accept it?
  • Why did you come to work here? What keeps you here?
  • What do you see in my personality, work history or skill set that attracts you to me?
  • How soon do you expect to make a decision?
  • If I am offered the position, how soon will you need my response?

When the position involves management of other employees, you may also wish to ask some of these questions:

  • How much authority will I have in running the department (or facility) ?
  • Are there any difficult personalities on the staff?
  • Have you already identified staff or staffs that should be let go or transferred?
  • Have you already identified staff members that are stars and are in line for promotion?
  • How many employees would I supervise?
  • What condition is morale in, and why?
  • May I see an organizational chart?

Finally, you may want to discuss issues of compensation.

Following are some suggestions for questions pertaining to salary and benefits packages:

  • What are the benefits and perks?
  • What is the salary range?
  • What is my earnings potential in 1, 3, 5, and 10 years?

If commissions are involved, ask about the median salary of a person holding a position comparable to that which you are seeking.

Article by Pam Pohly

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