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Questions Job Seekers Should Ask an Interviewer

Posted by Dawn Boyer

Job seekers should have a set of questions to ask the interviewer, just as the interviewer has their own set of questions. The job seeker is looking for an employer of choice; just as the company is looking for an employee of choice. The hiring manager will ask questions directly relevant to the job and must ask all candidates the same questions, while avoiding EEOC protected topics.

Some interviewers will ask the open-ended question, “What else can you tell me about yourself?” Many interviewees believe this is an opportunity to spill details about their personal life, but you should avoid talking about family, religion, politics, ethnic background, and so on. 

Interviewees should talk about projects completed, work completed, or companies worked for in their response. Here is where subjective terms you couldn’t use in the resume can be used: ‘Once I get into a project, I feel somewhat obsessed with completing it before the deadline and as close to perfect as I can get it,’ or ‘This [job] requires a lot of walking; I love being active versus sitting at a desk all day.’ 

Since many interviewees will respond with similar answers, the hiring manager is looking for something unique and out-of-the-ordinary to set the job seeker apart from the ‘herd.’  Having a prepared set of questions to ask the interviewer will demonstrate preparedness, attention to detail, and professional interest in the position and company. If you feel the need to remember what was said in the interview – employers should not have any problems with note taking. The following questions are a great starting point for putting together that list.

Who is the competition? You want to be aware of whom the business is competing against; perhaps you can provide insight on how your new employer can exploit their strengths against the ‘other guy’s’ weakness.

What are the most important objectives to be completed by the person hired in the next 30-60-90 days? What problems, issues, or concerns can you expect? Explain what you can realistically accomplish within the time frame based on your knowledge, skill sets, and education.

What are three main qualifications sought for this position? The job seeker can direct attention to their skills described and how those capabilities fit within the qualifications of the position to be filled.

Who would be my supervisor? If the supervisor is not performing the interview, ask more about this person, their management style, personality, to whom they report, and how you would fit into their subordinate team or department.

When was the job first advertised? Why has it been advertised so long? If the position has been open for more than a few weeks, there may be a reason for the ‘foot-dragging’ by the company – budget issues, inter-office politics, or they are testing the market for competition (using interviews to research [spy] on another company).

When will a decision be made for the qualified candidate? This provides you a date and time for a response; acknowledge if you have not heard by that date, you can assume the position has been filled.

Can you describe day-to-day tasks and responsibilities; as well as projects to accomplish that may be less routine? This answer provides a heads-up for projects that might be quarterly or annually requiring overtime, added resources, or potentially interfere with vacation plans. 

Can you describe training and learning opportunities the company provides to their employees? If the company requires or provides funding for career related training, college tuition, certifications, or workshops, how often and what qualifications are required.

Can you describe a ‘go-getter’ currently working for the company, and why does the company feel this person is a ‘star performer?’ This information can provide some insight into what is necessary to be considered a valued employee. Does this star work more hours, do they bring in more revenue than other sales staff, or do they act upon issues that saves the company tons of overhead?

What do you (the interviewer) like most about the company and how long have you been with the company? This allows the interviewer to talk about herself, and allows an informal discussion. If the response is lukewarm, ask more questions.

Can you talk about the culture and environment of the company? Seek a description of what it is like working within the company, department, or business unit.

Having a prepared list of reverse interview questions for the company interviewer will provide them a glimpse of your ability to prepare in advance and demonstrate your professionalism. It offers a positive impression they can take back to decision-makers for further interviews or hiring decisions. 

Dawn Boyer is a career services coach, social media management, human resources, and business development consultant. Follow Dawn on Twitter @Dawn_Boyer.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 7:05 am

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