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Questions You Can Ask at the Interview

By Ford R. Myers
President, Career Potential, LLC

At the interview, it is perfectly acceptable for you to ask questions and to take notes throughout the meeting (which will help you to formulate your questions). In some cases, you’ll be judged more on the questions you’re asking than the answers you’re giving! After all, you might wind-up working for this interviewer, so it is important for you to find out as much as you can about how he or she works, thinks and communicates.

Often, an interview will end with the employer asking if you have any questions about the position, the company, etc. The worst response is to say, “Nope.” You should ALWAYS have questions.

Additionally, asking great questions will help you sound like an articulate, savvy business professional. You’ll also seem well-prepared, and genuinely interested in working for the organization! The kind of question that will damage your credibility immediately is the one that shows your lack of preparation or knowledge about the company and its needs. So, do your homework!

Remember, a successful interview should be more of a balanced dialogue than an “interrogation!” Take a look at these questions that you can ask the interviewer, and then come-up with more that will be specific to the position you’re interested in:

  • Can you give me more detail about the position’s responsibilities?
  • Where do you see this position going in the next few years?
  • Is there anything off-limits in today’s conversation? If so, why?
  • What are two or three significant things that you would want me to accomplish in my first few months?
  • How much turnover has there been in this position over the past three to five years? Ten years?
  • What would you like done differently by the next person who fills this position?
  • How can I most quickly become a strong contributor within the organization?
  • How will my performance be evaluated, and at what time intervals?
  • What are the most challenging aspects of the job for which I am being considered?
  • How are loyalty and hard work rewarded here?
  • How would you define or describe your own management style?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of my prospective subordinates, as you see them?
  • With whom will I be interacting most frequently, and what are their responsibilities? What will be the nature of our interaction?
  • What would be the limits of my authority and responsibility? What would I have to get permission for, inform others about after the fact, or discuss prior to acting?
  • What particular things about my background and experience interest you? What makes you think I’ll be successful?
  • In this role, what authority would I have to act and what budget would be available to me for: (a) changes in staffing, promotion, salary increases; (b) use of consultants, purchasing software and hardware systems, capital for new projects and approaches; (c) changes within my area regarding policies, procedures, practices, performance and expectations?
  • How do you like your people to communicate with you? (orally, in writing, in meetings, by phone, voicemail, text, e-mail, informally, only when necessary?)
  • What are some of your longer-term objectives?
  • If I am offered this position, how could I make your job easier and more productive?
  • Why did you join this company? Why have you stayed?
  • How does my background measure-up to the requirements of the job? To the other candidates?
  • Could you take me on a brief tour of the building, including the area in which I would be working?
  • What do you really want to see as the outcome of hiring someone into this position?
  • If you could “wave a magic wand” and create the perfect candidate, how would he or she and I be different? What would we have in common?
  • What’s “on the front burner” with this position? What would I spend my first 30 days focused on?
  • What is going best for your company right now? How does this position / department tie into that?
  • What’s your dream for this organization?
  • In an ideal world, what would you like to see happen after hiring the right candidate?
  • What is the worst thing that has happened to the company in the past year?
  • Tell me a bit more about your own background and work history.
  • How do you define an ideal employee relationship?
  • Who do you consider your best employee on the team, and why?
  • What two or three problems, if solved, would make a huge difference?
  • What is most important to your boss?
  • What is most important to your team?
  • What is most important to the CEO?
  • Who would be impacted by this hiring decision?
  • How do decisions get made at this company?
  • What “drives you crazy?”
  • What does your competition envy about your organization?
  • Which competitor do you worry about most?
  • What have you learned from that competitor?
  • What would make you look like a hero after this hiring process is over?
  • What business books or magazines do you like, and recommend?
  • When does it get “crazy” around here? When this occurs, what happens, exactly?
  • Who are your best customers or clients?
  • What else should I know about your organization?
  • How can I add value in my first week here? First month? First year?
  • What would I need to do so that 12 months from now, you’d look back on hiring me as the best decision you had made in a long time?
  • If we started with a “clean slate,” what would you like to get done?
  • What are your favorite web sites for business?
  • Who else in your organization should I know?
  • What would eliminate an applicant for this position? Why?
  • What would lock-in an applicant for this position? Why?
  • Is there something I should have asked you, but didn’t?
  • Am I being seriously considered for this position?
  • Where are you in the hiring process? What are our next steps?
  • If I don’t hear from you within (time period), would it be OK to call you?
  • Now that you’ve reviewed my background and have gotten to know me a bit, do you see any gaps or concerns that might prevent you from moving me forward in the interviewing process and thinking of me as your top candidate? (If there are, please tell me now so that I may address your concerns).

Are all of these questions the right ones for you to ask at interviews? No, of course not! Some of these questions may seem too “bold” to you and some will not be appropriate, depending on the specific situation. You should take between five and ten pre-prepared, relevant questions into the interview. You’ll want to “customize” your list of questions to each company and opportunity. The key is to always be well-prepared and “fully-practiced” before any interview!

About the Author:
Ford R. Myers is an award-winning career coach and President of Career Potential, LLC. He is author of the best-seller, Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring. Ford’s firm helps clients take charge of their careers, create the work they love, and earn what they deserve! He has held senior consulting positions at three of the nation’s largest career service firms. Ford’s articles have appeared in thousands of publications and web sites, and he has been interviewed on every major television and radio network. Ford has also conducted presentations at hundreds of companies, associations and universities. Learn more at https://careerpotential.com.

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