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
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
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
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
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.
Linda Matias is President of CareerStrides and The
National Resume Writers' Association. She has been quoted in The Wall Street
Journal, New York Newsday, Newsweek, and HR-esource.com. Visit her website
or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.