For all major decisions in your life, you ask questions right? When you get ready to purchase a car, you ask how much will the monthly payments be? How many miles per gallon will I get? How long is the car under warranty? There are also some questions you have when you move to a new city. How much is the cost of living? What is the quality of the school system? Is there a lot of crime in the city? You ask questions when you are about to get married. When you are deciding which university to attend and you may have questions regarding your faith and what you believe. So if you ask questions in other important situations in your life, why not for a job interview? Deciding whether or not a job is a good fit for you is a major decision. You want to make sure you have all the necessary information to make a sound choice – accept the job or not accept the job.
A lot of people don’t really understand why they need to ask questions. They assume since the employer called them in for an interview, he/she should be the one asking all the questions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Asking questions in a job interview does a number of things: 1) shows that you have done research on the job and the company, 2) lets the employer know that you are really interested in the position, and 3) shows that you are a professional and try to thoroughly understand before jumping into something.
Still not convinced?? OK…..suppose you bought that new car that we talked about earlier and did not ask any questions. You just picked out the car, signed your name on the dotted line and drove off. When your first monthly bill came in the mail, it was $200 more than you expected. You call the dealership wanting to know why your payments are so high. Their response to you is, “The document that you signed stated how much the payments would be. Why didn’t you ask any questions about how we could lower your payments? If you are willing to come back in, perhaps we can work something out but it may be a few months before the new payment amount goes into effect.” So….you are “stuck” paying that higher amount for a while.
Well, it is the same with asking questions in a job interview. If you don’t, you may end up “stuck” in a situation you can’t get out of….for a while anyway. The interview should be a 2 way street. The employer is trying to see if you are a good fit for the company and you should be trying to see if the company is a good fit for you. Normally, this will happen towards the end of the interview. NEVER say you don’t have any questions. You should always have at least 3 because you should want to know about the actual position, the company and the culture so you can make an informed decision. Don’t worry….. you don’t have to memorize the questions, you can write them down and read them right off your paper and then write down the employer’s responses.
Here are some questions I always ask as well as a few other ones:
1. If I am hired for this position, what would a typical day be like for me?
2. What would you expect me to accomplish in the first 90 days?
3. Do you have a training program? If so, would you please describe it?
4. What are some of the issues/challenges that you currently have in this department? (Tip: If you can provide a solution on the spot, you are a genius!!)
5. I saw on your website that you have an initiative/program about XYZ, can you please tell me more about that?
6. What is the typical career path for someone who starts in this position?
7. What are qualities someone would need to be successful at this company?
8. What is your management style and the overall company culture?
9. What do you like best about working here?
10. Do you have any suggestions or feedback for my resume? (Tip: Make the changes they suggest and send it to them when you follow-up.)
11. Are there any concerns you have or other questions I can answer about my skills and qualifications?
12. When do you plan to make a decision as to whom you are going to hire?
There are certain questions you should NOT ask such as:
1. What does your company/department do?
2. What are the salary and benefits for this position?
3. Will I have to work much overtime?
4. When will I be eligible for vacation?
5. How flexible are you when it comes to being late or missing days due to sick children?
6. What happened to the person who had this position before me?
7. Will I have to take a drug test? If so, how often?
Asking an employer questions in an interview, can be a little intimidating but it is necessary. I strongly recommend that you practice your interviewing skills several times before you meet with the actual employer. You should practice providing your answers to typical interview questions as well as practice asking the questions that you want answered. This will help decrease your nervousness and make your responses seem more natural. Asking questions at the end of the interview is equally as important as everything else and could be the difference in whether you are offered the job or not.