Prepare for a Job Interview – Good Questions & Follow Up
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Good Questions to Ask in an Interview
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Going through the process of a job interview can be nerve-racking and intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. You’ll likely be meeting a potential employer at an unfamiliar location on the employer’s schedule. Many employers will dictate the interview, at least in the beginning, and ask you many standard questions. You may be inclined to answer questions to please the employer, but you must answer questions truthfully (or you’ll only be fooling yourself and may find yourself in a position that does not suit you).

At some point in the interview (hopefully sooner than later), the employer will ask if you have any questions or concerns. At this point, the floor is yours. Many job candidates freeze here. Sometimes it’s due to nerves, but more often than not it is due to lack of preparation. Failing to ask any questions generally indicates a lack of interest in the position or lack of knowledge about the company (or both). In order to avoid this situation, it may suit you well to create a list of possible questions before the interview (and even practice saying them if you need to).

Employers are generally drawn to job applicants that ask intelligent questions and carry on a thoughtful conversation. In short, the employer generally wants to hire a person who is smart, motivated, and would be a pleasure to work with on a daily basis.

Before the interview, make sure you have thoroughly researched the company and have a general idea of what you would like to learn about the company and position. One KEY CONCEPT to keep in mind: Ask questions that you are truly interested in (or at least appear to be interested in). Otherwise, an employer will likely notice your lack of interest in your questions and assume that you’re not really interested in the position.

A list of possible questions you could ask (assuming that you have not already discussed these issues in the interview or discovered the answers elsewhere), include:

The Company

  • Where do you believe the company will be in the next 1, 3 or 5 years?
  • What is the overall structure of the company?
  • What is the environment like with the people I would be working with?
  • How has the company performed compared to its competition?
  • Where do you believe the industry in which this company operates is headed?
  • Could you describe your company's management style and the types of employees who fit well within it?

The Department

  • What are the dynamics like within this department?
  • What are the career paths in this department?
  • What have been the department's successes over the last few years?
  • What particular computer equipment and software do you use?

The Position

  • What is a typical day or week like in this position?
  • What types of skills are you looking for in this position?
  • Can you describe an ideal employee?
  • What happened to the last person who held this job?
  • What were the major strengths and weaknesses of the last person who held this job?
  • What would you consider to be the most important aspects of this job?
  • Where have successful employees previously in this position progressed to within the company?

The Expectations of the Position

  • How will I be evaluated, and how often?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges in the position?
  • Where would you expect me in my development in the next 6 months and/or year?

Career Development

  • How does your company promote career development?
  • What active steps could I take to improve in my development?
  • Do you offer seminars, workshops, or other types of ways to increase my knowledge of the position?

Compensation and Benefits

Many times, depending on the nature of the job, you won’t know the salary until given an offer. With other jobs you’ll know the compensation structure and benefits prior to the interview. However, while compensation and benefits can be a touchy subject for both the employee and employer – don’t make it one.

Generally, it is best to refrain from asking about compensation and benefits until those issues are raised by the employer. Depending on where you are in the interview process, you’ll eventually have to know the details. But it is best to allow the employer to bring up compensation and benefits. If the employer fails to do so, you could ask:
  • What is the salary range for this position?
  • What are the benefits offered with the company?
  • How does the commission structure work? (If it is a commission based position.)

At the End of the Interview

Make sure to end the interview on a position note, exchange any contact information that you may need, and thank the employer for the interview. Also, if you’re interested in the position, it is generally a good idea to tell the employer that you will be in contact with them. This shows a sense of commitment to the employer. Some final questions or statements you may want to include:
  • Do you need anything else from me?
  • What are the next steps in the interview process?
  • Thank you for the opportunity to interview.
  • I will be in contact with you.
Next, we’ll show you what to do after the interview.