I covered this topic several times over the years and would like to again focus on questions from candidates to their potential employer during the interview process. I want to focus on this again because I am still amazed at the number of silly and sometimes scary questions candidates ask. I hope this will reach as many candidates as possible to help with this very simple part of the interview process. As I detailed in the past, there are countless books, articles and even seminars focused on how to interview and I encourage everyone to utilize as much information as possible to ensure you present yourself well, make a lasting impression and for you understand if the potential employer is where you want to offer your skills and services.
First, I would like to list a few of the questions I have been asked and also ones that were asked to our clients by candidates recently. These were asked at the final interview to the senior manager they would be reporting to.
“What is considered being late in your company?”
“The working hours are 9:00AM to 6:00PM. Can I start at 7:00AM and leave at 4:00PM?”
“If I don’t take my lunch break, can I leave one hour early every day?”
“Are you going to check my past employment references? If yes, I want to withdraw”
“If you don’t select me, will you give me a detailed reason why you didn’t?”
Lastly, please don’t interrogate the interviewer with too many questions. One candidate recently asked so many questions that after one hour, the interviewer’s time was done and he had no time to ask the candidate a single question.
Obviously, these questions will make the interviewer concerned (and in some cases, run!). When you are invited to ask questions, don’t make them self-centered and off point. Do make them relevant. I am not going to give you a list of questions to ask because I feel that no two interviews (and interviewees) are the same. Also, what works for some professions or people, may not work on others. What I do want to offer are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind when asking questions.
Make sure that your question accomplishes two purposes. One is to get information about something specific, while two, showing the interviewer that you know the roles responsibilities and requirements. For example, if you are a sales professional interviewing for a sales position, you can ask about specific rules related to developing business in specific territories and or across industries.
2. No Question Clarity
Perhaps all of your questions were answered during the interview process by others. In this case, and especially if the final interviewer will be your supervisor or is a senior executive, you could ask a questions for more clarity. For example, if you are applying for a Project Manager position: “all of my questions have been answered by others, but I would like to get more clarity on one point. When I asked Abe-san about project assignment, he informed me that projects are assigned based on technical area expertise. Can you perhaps provide a little more clarity on this point? I want to be as useful as possible and by understanding the process, I am confident I can better help the team and department.”
Remember, you are evaluating the company and its employees just as much as they are evaluating you. Make sure you ask professional questions to get as much information about the role, department and company so you too can make the right choice. If you are able to meet several people during the interview process, ask each person one or two relevant questions so you can make the best analysis with all the information you have; moreover, ask yourself if the people you are meeting are the ones you want to be working with. In addition to the job fit, you want to make sure there is a cultural fit as well.
There is no “magic” question list that satisfies all. As a result, make sure your questions are well thought out and prepared and designed to give you the best information to make a good decision… and to give the interviewer a good impression. Lastly, practice! Ask a friend or past colleague to help you interview and role-play. By practicing the interview process and asking questions, you will be more confident, present better and fine tune the right questions!