Questions You Should Ask

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By Carole Martin – www.interviewcoach.com

At some point, usually at the conclusion of the interview, you may be asked, “Do you have any questions?” A common answer to this question is, “No, I think you’ve covered everything very well.” This is the wrong answer! You have passed up your opportunity to ask some critical questions that may make a difference as to whether you want to work for this company.

But, what questions are appropriate? When Marianne was asked if she had any questions at the conclusion of her first interview she took this as her chance to find out about vacation accrual and sick leave. She began asking about the days allowed and when she would be able to start taking them. The interviewer was taken back. “Is this what this woman cares about? Time off? This doesn’t sound like someone who will come in and get the work done,” the interviewer thought to himself. Clearly, Marianne had asked the wrong questions. Or, perhaps the right questions at the wrong time.

Timing is key. The first round of interviews is about discovery: finding out about the job and the company, not about the benefits, or raises. Good questions to ask in the first round are about the job content, the company culture, the future of the company.

David had prepared his questions, and was ready when the manager of engineering asked if he had any. “Yes, I do,” was his reply. “What types of projects would be forthcoming over the next six months?” The manager was eager to tell David about the prospects for future business and the plans for future growth. This discussion prompted more questions from David, and the interview ended half an hour later, after a lively exchange, and on a very upbeat note. David’s question was appropriate and timely.

But, what about those other questions about benefits, stock options, time off?
Later, as the interview process unfolds, there will be time to ask about the benefits and practical matters. Often the Human Resources department will provide you with a brochure, or packet of information. Obviously, you will need this information to assess a package in the event an offer is made. But, all in good time!

The interview should an exchange of information. What does the company want, and what do you have to offer? But, also what do they have to offer, and what do you want? It is important that you express an interest in the company and the work being done, not just “what’s in it for me?” By asking questions you will demonstrate investigative skills, and that you are particular about the company you work for, and that you are not going to take just any offer that is made.

It is also important to consider whom you are talking to. The Human Resources person is the one likely to know about job descriptions, the morale or the company culture. The hiring manager, your future boss, is the person to ask about the department, It is also important to consider whom you are talking to. The Human Resources person is the one likely to know about job descriptions, qualities being sought, the morale or the company culture. The hiring manager, your future boss, is the person to ask about the department, the team you will be working with, the challenges of the job.

Questions NOT to ask in the first rounds of interviewing.
Questions about salary, stock options, vacation, holiday schedule, benefits.
Don’t ask questions that have already been answered in the interview.
Don’t “grill” the interviewer – it’s ok to ask about the person’s background, but as an interested party, not an interrogator.

Questions TO ASK in the first rounds of interviewing.

Ask for a copy of the job description.
Ask why is this job open?
What qualities are you seeking in the person for this job? What is the next step? When will you make your selection?

Prepare five or six questions before the interview and take them with you. When the time comes for you ask questions, make sure you are ready to find out some important information. Don’t miss out on this valuable opportunity.

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