Now, Do You Have Any Questions?
By Linda Matias
"Who is that hot babe in the picture?" isn't the type of reply an interviewer expects to hear when he or she invites you to ask questions near the end of an interview. In fact, the way you approach the Q&A session will have a direct impact on the interviewer's perception of you. Based on the questions you ask, a judgment will be made in regard to how interested you seem to be in working for the company.
For this reason, when you are forming questions ask yourself, What do I need to know about the company in order to determine if this is the workplace for me? How you answer this question depends on the career values that are important to you, and therefore, there isn't a right or wrong answer. That said, make sure that you do not ask the "What's-in-it-for me?" type question. Though questions regarding salary, benefits, and vacation time are valid, the place to broach those topics is when an offer is on the table, not before.
SAMPLE QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK
Are there any plans for a corporate merger or outsourcing initiatives?
When a merger or outsourcing happens, layoffs follow. Before you accept a position, you should inquire about the direction the company is taking. Many candidates are under the misconception that only failing companies downsize. In truth, no matter how stable they are, companies are always looking to cut costs.
How closely do my qualifications match the requirements for the open position?
Two things can happen when you ask this question. (1) The interviewer can affirm that your experience, skills and abilities are a perfect fit. Needless to say, if that is the interviewer's response, you have a good shot at landing a job offer. (2) The interviewer may divulge that the company is looking to hire someone with more experience in XYZ. Believe it or not, if this occurs it can work out to your advantage because you have another opportunity to sell yourself.
How long has this position been open?
If the interviewer reveals that the position has been open for three months, you can ask a follow-up question such as, "It is obvious that the company is taking its time in finding the right candidate, and there must have been qualified candidates that have interviewed. What would you say they were lacking that an offer wasn't extended?" In asking this follow-up question, you will find out exactly what the interviewer is looking for and you can adapt your responses to meet the company's specific needs.
Are promotions based on seniority or accomplishments?
Some companies still hold on to the old-school mentality where old-timers, no matter their accomplishments or lack thereof, are offered an opportunity to move up the ladder before a new hire gets the same opportunity. You deserve to know that if you put 110% in your work, you will be rewarded accordingly.
If you could change one thing about how this company functions, what would it be?
Just as you are not perfect, neither is a company. Interviewers are aware of this fact and therefore, during the interview process they do their best to sell the organization as a great place to go to every day. It is part of your job to uncover everything about the hiring organization - the good, the bad, and everything in between.
Well-thought-out, clear, and intelligent questions are the ones that leave a positive impression with the listener. Take the time to evaluate what is important to you and form questions around those issues.
Recognized as a career expert, Linda Matias brings a wealth of experience to the career services field. She has been sought out for her knowledge of the employment market, outplacement, job search strategies, interview preparation, and resume writing, quoted a number of times in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and HR-esource.com. She is President of CareerStrides and the National Resume Writers' Association. Visit her website at www.careerstrides.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Not-So-Effective Cover Letter by Linda Matias, JCTC, CEIP (c) Linda Matias - All rights reserved
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