Hiring managers repeatedly tell me they pay particular attention to the questions applicants ask them. Your questions, especially when they are insightful, send a signal that you are not only interested in the job but are truly trying to evaluate whether this will be a good match and work out long-term for both parties. A top manager at AT&T said: “I judge candidates by the questions they ask. That’s what’s most revealing to me. I want someone focused on succeeding in the job and not just centered on how much money I will pay him.”
Unless you are in Sales, never bring up any questions about salary or benefits. Focus on determining if you want to do this job so you know this is a good manager to work and thrive under.
So many candidates rarely ask good questions. These questions can reveal more about the company culture and the prospective boss than they may have shared during the interview.
Here are five key questions that you SHOULD ask at your next interview.
Recognize that most people “quit a manager” when they leave a job. It’s often a problem with their boss that starts their job search. This key question lets you get a better glimpse into a prospective supervisor’s style. Are they team orientated? Or more dictatorial? Do they seem to be a micromanager? Or will you have autonomy? Keep in mind how you work best—that’s the manager you seek to work under.
This is a very revealing question even though it may not appear to be. It’s important to know if the person didn’t stay long and why he/she choose to move on. Perhaps there is a problem in the department or the job wasn’t as it was described. Listen carefully to the answer and seek more details if you are left wondering why they departed.
Does the job sound interesting? Is it exactly like the advertised position or does it sound different? Be sure to pin the employer down on details if the ad and the discussed job seem to vary a great deal. You want to be certain what job you are actually going to be doing.
This question should uncover any problems such as budget cuts or loss of a large customer to enable you to see if your skills are a good fit and how stable this department is going forward. It can help you uncover trends and issues in the industry and perhaps identify areas where your skills could save the day.
You want to discover how realistic the boss’s goals are. Can the job tasks be learned in a few months to enable you to perform and reach the needed goals? Be sure the objectives are reachable and not unrealistic. Sometimes employers get grand views of finding a perfect candidate capable of superhuman efforts. Be sure that is not the case with this position and that you feel comfortable reaching the targeted goals the employer is setting.
By using your detective skills and asking insightful questions you can uncover big clues as to if this new job would be a comfortable fit for you.
Stress the positive and the results you can deliver and the employer will take notice.
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Robin Ryan is a career counselor offering individual services including Interview Coaching and Resume Writing. She is a Speaker and the bestselling author of seven career books including 60 Seconds & You’re Hired and Over 40 & You’re Hired! She has appeared on over 2000 TV and radio shows including Oprah, Dr Phil, CNN and ABC News.