Q: “I have several important interviews coming up, and I want to be fully prepared. I’m pretty confident about how to answer interviewers’ questions, but I am not sure what I need to be asking them. Are there any questions you recommend using in a typical interview?”
A: It’s very smart for you to be thinking about the interview questions you should ask. Good questions give you useful feedback about the job and the company. A savvy query also offers your interviewer a chance to showcase his expertise and opinions. Of course, you may uncover some ineptitude and evasiveness you didn’t expect. Whether you find the company and manager to be exemplary or to have clay feet, the more information you know about them, the easier it is to make an intelligent decision.
Asking juicy questions also tells your interviewer you’ve done your homework. It shows you understand the key issues and challenges likely to be involved in the job. In fact, you may find your effort to gather information is a more effective sales tool than your astute, insightful answers.
Here are some questions you might want to include in any interview:
Tell me about the job’s responsibilities and goals.
What are the most important characteristics the person filling this position must possess to be successful?
What is the career path for this job?
What types of training do you offer your employees?
Tell me about the key people I would be working with on a daily basis.
How does this department fit into the organization as a whole?
What are the department’s goals for the next three to five years? What are the strategies for achieving those objectives?
What are the department’s greatest strengths and challenges?
What do you like about this company?
Please discuss the organization’s mission, values, strengths and challenges.
Where does the company plan to be three years from now? What is the strategy for getting there?
What is your management style (if you are talking to your potential manager)?
When glitches occur, what do you consider the best approach for dealing with them?
Based upon what you’ve heard so far, do I seem to be a good fit for the position?
Do you have any concerns about my ability to do the job or fit into your team/organization?
(Toward the end of the interview) What is the compensation package for this position?
What is your timetable and process for filling this job?
When can I expect to hear from you?
If you haven’t contacted me by (date), may I call to touch base?
You can use these questions, create your own or develop a combination of both. Whatever you decide, an interview should be a back-and-forth dialogue between you and your interviewer. Interviewees without questions seem to lack initiative and enthusiasm for the job. Their impression is rather like a Coke without its fizz.
Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979, which works with individual and corporate clients in career change; job search; executive, small business and life coaching; college major selection and talent management.
“One of the smartest minds in the career field,” according to Tony Lee (VP of CareerCast Operations at Adicio and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal’s Online Vertical Network), Besson began writing for the Dallas Times Herald in the early 80s. Having read several of her columns, Lee asked her to contribute regular articles to the Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW) as well. Since then, she has been a triple award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com and Senior Columnist for CareerCast.com, as well as WorkingWoman.com and Oxygen.com. At Lee’s request, Besson authored five editions of NBEW’s Premier Guide to Resumes and three of its Premier Guide to Cover Letters. She has also written articles and/or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money and Yahoo among others.
Taunee has worked on community nonprofit boards and committees for over 30 years including Girls Inc., Women’s Center of Dallas, Girl Scouts and Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Volunteers of America and Mortarboard, among others. She was a member of the Leadership Dallas in 1987 and Leadership America in 2003.
In 1994, the Dallas Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development chose her as its “Professional of the Year”. Her NBEW columns were selected for the “Ten Best Article Award” in 1990, 1994 and 1997. In 1999, Alpha Gamma Delta, a 200,000 member fraternal organization, named her as one of three “Distinguished Citizens” at its biannual international convention.