Questions Job Seekers Should Ask

You will want to be ready with good questions—especially at the end of the interview when you are asked if you have any questions. The type of questions you ask will depend upon what stage you have reached in the interview process. The questions you ask at the end of a first interview could vary greatly from what you would want to ask at the end of a third or fourth interview. Questions Job Seekers Should AskWhat you ask and when is up to you. The answers to your questions are important and will help you decide whether or not to accept the position. Some questions you might want to ask, provided you are not already expected to know the answer because of your research, include:

Questions about the organization:

  • What position does the company have in the industry? Is it the market leader, in the middle, or does it have to market through other avenues?
  • How does the business market its products or services to clients or customers?
  • Does the company have a policy of promotion from within or does it generally look outside for talent?

Questions about job duties and responsibilities:

  • What kind of authority does the position have? What decisions could I make without getting higher management or committee approval?
  • Can you describe a typical day for me?
  • Does this position involve a lot of travel?

Questions about the department:

  • What is the current status of the department? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is different about this department that sets it apart from other similar departments in the company?
  • What is the rate of turnover in this department?

Questions about compensation and benefits (don’t get into this unless you have a job offer):

  • What part of the compensation plan is tied to performance?
  • What kinds of benefits are available in terms of medical, dental, life insurance, etc.?
  • Would I have to sign an employment contract? If so, what are the terms?

Questions about relocation (if you have to move):

  • What moving expenses does the company pay?
  • Will they pay for one or more trips for my spouse to see the community and look for housing?
  • If the move is delayed for any reason, will the company provide transportation for me to visit my family regularly?

These sample questions are a good place to start, provided of course that you are not expected to know the answers as a result of your company research. You do not want to ever give the impression that you do not know anything about the company that is interviewing you, or ask a question to which you should know the answer.

Take notes during the interview, but ask permission to do so. The person conducting the interview will not refuse your request. Have a pen and paper ready to jot down important items. This will help you make a good impression and will provide you with the information you need for your interview summary later and for the follow up letter.

In addition, there are questions you can ask to help you determine in a diplomatic way whether someone higher than the interviewer will make the final choice. Example:

  • Who would supervise the person in this position?
  • Is there someone else who will be involved in the final hiring decision for this job?

Another question you may ask the interviewer is how he or she would rate your qualifications for the job. The reply should help you learn whether or not you are in the running for the job. It may also give you information about a point the interviewer saw as a problem, but would not have discussed with you otherwise. This then gives you the opportunity to explain, defend or clarify the point of concern. If there is concern over a perceived weakness, you could assure the interviewer of your willingness to work to overcome it. The interviewer may, of course, tell you she is not ready to give you feedback at that time. Even this reply can set the stage for you to briefly summarize the strengths and weaknesses you could bring to the job.

There is one final question that candidates often overlook: ask for the job. Ask in a pleasant and confident manner, and you will not appear “overly aggressive.” This does not mean that you should say, “May I have the job?” However, do let the interviewer know that you feel you are a good candidate and why, that you are very interested in the job and hope you will be the selected candidate to fill the position. You may also ask when she will be making a decision.

Asking questions may be difficult for some candidates, either because of a lack of interview experience or because they have difficulty feeling it’s appropriate. However, the interviewer expects you to have questions. A candidate who has no questions might cause as much concern in the interviewer’s mind as the candidate who goes overboard and asks too many questions.

Before you leave the interviewer’s office, ask about the next step in the selection process. When can you expect to hear from the interviewer? Job seekers often neglect to get this information. They wait and wonder when and if they will hear back from the person with whom they interviewed. (If no one contacts you by the date given, do not hesitate to follow up by telephone. It demonstrates a sincere interest in the job and shows that you know how to take initiative).

About the Author: 

Carol Hacker is the former Director of Human Resources for the North American Division of a European manufacturing company, Employee Relations Manager for the Miller Brewing Company, and County Office Director for the US Department of Labor. Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, Carol has been the President and CEO of Hacker & Associates since January 1989. She specializes in teaching managers, supervisors, team leaders, HR professionals, and executives how to meet the leadership challenge. Carol is the author of over 400 published articles and 14 books including the bestseller, Hiring Top Performers-350 Great Interview Questions For People Who Need People. She earned her BS and MS with honors from the University of Wisconsin. She can be reached at or 770-410-0517.

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5 Ways to Stand Out AFTER the Interview

Even in a candidate’s market, you must learn how to stand out to the interviewer. With the large number of consultants interviewing for each new position, establishing yourself so as to stand out in the manager’s mind has become quintessential to being offered the job.

So, I want to address a few ways to follow up with an interviewer, and keep your name in their mind. This element of the process is often overlooked, or even viewed as optional. Sure, you're not required to follow up, but they are not required to give your resume another look, either. Here are five ideas that I have personally used, and seen fruitful returns from.5 Ways to Stand Out AFTER the Interview

1. The Classic "Thank You" Letter (or Email)
It seems almost too easy. A simple thank you card that reviews what you talked about, and why you feel optimistic about the position and/or company. The personal touch that you add to this will be what sets you apart from the 20-100 other applicants. The interviewer will also be impressed that you paid attention to the small details of the process. While less personal, an email would also work in some instances. If you like playing hard-to-get (which I do not advise), an email could suffice, especially if you include a question that may need to be answered quickly.

2. A Phone Call
Interestingly enough, following up 1-2 times a week during the interview process lets the manager know that you REALLY WANT the position. When I started my first position with the Atlanta Hawks, my manager told me that I gotten the job because I showed him how much I wanted it. He even laughingly said that it got borderline annoying at times. I was not insulted at all by this statement. The hardest workers in the world tend to be a bit pushy, but only because they know what they want, and will do whatever it takes to get it.

3. The Personal Touch
This has been my "go-to" since I started searching for jobs after college. During the interview process, pay particular attention to what you talk about. Does the manager like sports? Do they like music? Do they enjoy literature? Whatever it is, FIND OUT. Once your second or third interview is complete, put something together that he/she would appreciate, and would tell them that you cared enough to be attentive to the small things. This creates a link between yourself and the manager, and something that could set you apart in the end.
 Eg. For one position in particular, I was 1 of 2000 resumes competing for 10 jobs. It was surprising enough that I got the interview, but when I went in to speak with them, the interview was a 3-stage, 5 candidate interview process. I knew that I had to do something drastic. I had asked one of them about some literature that I could be reading that would prepare me for the position, and they suggested a book called “From Fantasyland to the Rat Race.” I then bought a small stuffed mouse, and made a jersey for it. I sent it to the manager with a note that simply read “I hope my rat race starts with the (company name).” I know how corny this sounds, and it may not work with EVERY manager, but try to get a feel for how intense the gift needs to be. This went over very well, and I ended up with the job offer.

4. Ask Questions (that you didn’t ask in the interview)
ALWAYS be prepared to ask questions. Better yet, do research so that your questions show that you know things that you shouldn't yet. This can be very impressive to managers, because it shows that you put in the effort to learn the company or industry. Nothing says “dedicated to this opportunity” more than putting personal time and funds into it.
That said, we all have a tendency to forget things when the moment arises. This is another reason that the follow-up is so important; you can ask those questions.
Plus, these managers do not want to be pressured to make the final decision too quickly. By devising a set of comprehensive and fact-based questions, you can add something to each call. Be honest. Tell the manager that you forgot to ask, or that you came across a new bit of information that you thought was interesting. This keeps your name in the manager’s head, and lets them know that you are still very focused on earning the position.

5. Do What You Say You Will Do
This will be, by far, the most important follow up. If you say that you will call them at 3, call them EXACTLY at 3. Nothing is more annoying than doing someone a favor, and having them thank you by wasting your time. I have personally seen managers ignore calls because they were 5-10 minutes late, and have no intention of calling them back.
Not only this, but when a manager hires you, he is expecting to get what you presented yourself as in the interview. Nothing is more frustrating to a manager than for a person to rave about their dedication, hard work, and organization, then having none of it when they begin the job. The best thing you can do is be honest in an interview, because the truth will come out. I know what you’re thinking; “But Kane, if I’m honest they won’t hire me.” Maybe it’s time to make yourself worth being hired, then. It is impossible to be what you told someone you would, if you do not believe it yourself.

Remember this: “Hard work beats talent every time if talent doesn’t work hard.”

About the Author: 

Kane is a former Technical Recruiter with MATRIX and freelance copywriter. He previously worked for the Atlanta Hawks and is a huge baseball fan, outdoorsman, and musician.  Connect with him on LinkedIn or like his page on

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The Hardest Interview Question: What Is Your Biggest Weakness?

Your main goal in an interview is to show the company your strengths and tell them why you would be the best fit for the job. When the tables turn and the interviewer asks what your biggest weakness is, many candidates freeze. You do not want them to know why NOT to hire you! But there is an easy way to answer this question without ruining your chances.

First, be honest! But counteract that weakness with its corresponding strength. By using the list below, recently posted on LinkedIn by Dave Kerpen, you can actually turn this question into another chance to show off your strengths.

  1. Strong ManDisorganized ---> Creative 
  2. Inflexible ---> Organized 
  3. Stubborn ---> Dedicated
  4. Inconsistent ---> Flexible
  5. Obnoxious ---> Enthusiastic
  6. Emotionless ---> Calm
  7. Shy ---> Reflective
  8. Irresponsible ---> Adventurous
  9. Boring ---> Responsible
  10. Unrealistic ---> Positive
  11. Negative ---> Realistic
  12. Intimidating ---> Assertive
  13. Weak ---> Humble
  14. Arrogant ---> Self-Confident
  15. Indecisive ---> Patient
  16. Impatient ---> Passionate

[By Dave Kerpen, CEO, Likeable Local, NY Times Best-Selling Author & Keynote Speaker]

Some examples of how this could work for you during the interview:

  • My biggest weakness is I can sometimes be stubborn, but this shows how dedicated I am to every decision I make and every task I encounter.
  • My biggest weakness is that I am extremely passionate. Unfortunately, sometimes that comes off as slightly impatient, but I truly am over-passionate about everything I set my mind to.
  • My biggest weakness is that I am an incurable optimist. In most settings, my positivity is appreciated, but sometimes this can lead to unrealistic goals and aspirations in the workplace. It is something I am continuously trying to improve.

By using this question to show you know you are not perfect and still have room to grow in your new position, the interviewer will hopefully be able to see the real you. Hopefully this list will help you feel more comfortable in your next interview and show your interviewer more of your strengths. Best of luck!

About the Author: 

Leah Antonoff, fresh out of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, is the new social media guru. Leah consulted with companies on their marketing and social media campaigns in the Bloomington, IN and Atlanta, GA areas.

Connect with Leah on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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The Perils of Falling in Love.

As someone who has observed hundreds of hiring processes over the years, I’ve seen my share of missteps. I’ve witnessed hiring managers spend entire interviews talking about themselves, only thinking to ask a few questions of the candidate at the very end. I’ve watched interviewers robotically read one question after the other from a prepared list, never really listening to the candidate’s answers.Perils of Falling in Love And I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen unprofessional, disorganized, and just generally ineffective techniques derail interviews.

But the one mistake that leaves me shaking my head every time I see it is unique. It’s all too common, and hiring managers often don’t realize they’ve done it until it’s too late. What’s the sin? Falling in love with a candidate.

No, I don’t mean “romantic” love, although that probably happens every once in a while. What I’m referring to is when interviewers lose their objectivity and good judgment because they connect strongly with the person sitting across the table.   This usually occurs because the two people have some thing or things in common, and the more they talk and share stories, the more they “click.” Before you know it , the hiring manager starts thinking, “Hey, I really like this person.” There’s a shift from wanting to make sure the candidate and job are a great fit to thinking about how nice it would be to have this individual on the team.

What causes interviewers to fall in love? There are lots of reasons, but the most frequent situations I see are the result of the hiring manager and the candidate having one or more of the following in common:

  • Similar backgrounds (grew up in the same area, went to the same schools)
  • Shared interests (sports, hobbies, volunteer work)
  • Past experiences (first jobs, previous employers)
  • Similar personal situations (single or married, with or without kids, empty nester)
  • Shared relationships (professional or personal)
  • Mutual goals (career advancement objectives, professional accomplishments)
  • Shared geography (live in the same area, frequent the same places)

Interviewers also fall in love with candidates because of their personalities. If the last three people you’ve interviewed have been nervous, boring or unable hold up their end of the conversation, it’s likely you’ll be drawn to the next individual who’s polished, confident, funny or well-spoken. And don’t underestimate the power of a candidate who is well-mannered, charming, energetic or a good listener.

So why is falling in love such a mistake? Because most of the time when it happens, the interviewer stops being neutral about the candidate. I’ve seen hiring managers ignore red flags or danger signs when they’re in love. I’ve noticed them only hearing what they want to hear. On a few occasions I’ve watched them unconsciously feed candidates the “right” answers so it appears the job is a great fit. I’ve also seen them skip steps or shortcut their hiring process because someone seems “perfect” for the job. But the biggest problem is that they can’t accept anyone else’s negative feedback. They are quick to dismiss references or other interviewers who voice concerns or point out flaws in the candidate.

Once managers understand this phenomenon and resolve to avoid it in future hiring situations, they often ask me how to prevent it from happening again. Interestingly, I’ve found that simply being aware of a tendency to fall in love with candidates is key.   When managers find the conversation turning to shared interests or commonalities, they can recognize the situation and stay on their toes. The discussion should be long enough to build rapport but not so extensive they spend half the allotted interview time sharing war stories with the candidate.

Another key element to maintaining objectivity is having a written Hiring Profile in front of you during each interview. Your Hiring Profile should outline the 8-10 most important tasks the job you are hiring for entails. It should also list the experience and education levels you want as well as the technical skills you need. Finally, it should list the core behavioral traits (assertive, social, detail-oriented, flexible, etc.) you need to get in the person you hire.   Use this Hiring Profile throughout your interviews to help you focus your questions on determining if the candidate has what it takes to do the job. And it can serve as a checklist post-interview to figure out where the individual fits or doesn’t fit with what you need. Hopefully it will shine a bright light on situations where you really like the person but recognize they lack the most important things needed to succeed in the job.

Maintaining your objectivity is easier when you have something concrete to keep you on track. And a good dose of awareness doesn’t hurt, either.

About the Author: 

Janna is Vice President of Client Services for The Berke Group, where she leads their education initiatives and serves as their key client advocate.  Berke provides powerful assessment software that measures personality, talent, and intelligence and helps companies hire the best people.  Janna develops Berke’s  learning programs and provides both on-site and web-based management training for companies and individuals. She also writes about people management strategies, trends and best practices.

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75 reasons you didn’t get the job

Your Optimism
Cartoon by Hugh

Wondering why you didn’t get the job? It was probably because:

  1. You’re not qualified.
  2. You’re over qualified.
  3. You’re qualified but someone else was more qualified or a better fit.
  4. You wore too much cologne / perfume.
  5. You smelled bad.
  6. You wore too much makeup.
  7. You were overdressed.
  8. You were underdressed.
  9. The job was filled internally.
  10. The job was put on hold.
  11. The CEO’s daughter got the job.
  12. You’re too old.
  13. You’re too young.
  14. You look older than you are.
  15. You look younger than you are.
  16. You’re too good-looking.
  17. You’re not attractive enough.
  18. You acted too desperate.
  19. You acted uninterested.
  20. You didn’t sell yourself.
  21. You oversold yourself.
  22. You didn’t give enough detail in your answers to their questions.
  23. You answered questions in too much detail.
  24. Your answers were wrong or just plain stupid
  25. You seemed overly prepared.
  26. You didn’t seem prepared.
  27. You were too chatty.
  28. You weren’t talkative enough.
  29. You were overly friendly.
  30. You weren’t friendly enough.
  31. You laughed too much.
  32. You didn’t show a sense of humor.
  33. You talked too loud.
  34. You talked too softly.
  35. You seemed arrogant.
  36. You didn’t show enough confidence.
  37. You were late.
  38. You arrived *way* too early.
  39. Your resume is too long.
  40. Your resume is too short.
  41. Your hair is too long.
  42. Your hair is too short.
  43. Your skirt was too tight.
  44. Your pants were too baggy.
  45. You were rude to the receptionist.
  46. You were rude to everyone.
  47. You appeared to be bored.
  48. You were overly eager.
  49. You lied.
  50. You asked for too much money.
  51. You were willing to take the job for much less than it pays.
  52. You have drunk, naked, or otherwise scary pictures on Facebook.
  53. They Googled you and found your blog about how much you hate your boss / your job / their product.
  54. You said you hate your mother / father / sister / brother.
  55. You didn’t go to the right college.
  56. They have a diversity initiative and you’re a white male.
  57. You answered your cell phone during the interview.
  58. You were nervous / sweaty / jittery.
  59. You live too far away.
  60. You didn’t return their calls quickly enough.
  61. You stalked the hiring manager.
  62. You seemed stuffy.
  63. You were too relaxed.
  64. Your piercing(s).
  65. Your tattoo(s).
  66. They didn’t think you would fit in.
  67. They’re skeptical of your willingness / ability to travel or to work the hours that the job requires.
  68. You made weird facial expressions when you spoke.
  69. You appeared aloof.
  70. You used poor grammar.
  71. You crushed fingers to the bone with your handshake.
  72. Your handshake was too limp.
  73. You didn’t make good eye contact.
  74. You didn’t send thank you notes.
  75. You brought your dog / boyfriend / girlfriend / mother to the interview.

The point of this list is not to overwhelm you with all of the things you might have done / will do “wrong.” It is to demonstrate that interviewing is extremely subjective, and if you apply to jobs that you meet the qualifications for, are prepared for the interview, and use common sense, there is no reason to beat yourself up if you did not get the job. Rather than second-guessing yourself or feeling defeated, after each interview take a few moments to do a self-assessment – and write the answers down so you can use them to prepare for your next interview.

  1. What did I do well?
  2. What could I have done better?
  3. What was I lacking in preparation that I’ll be sure to do next time?

This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes and it will help not only your confidence but your chances of success next time.

Now, go delete those blog posts [you know which ones I'm talking about] and take down those pictures from your bachelor party on Facebook.

About the Author: 

Stephanie A. Lloyd is Strategist-in-Chief, Calibre Search Group, located in Atlanta, Georgia at the intersection of Talent Strategies + Social Media. With more than 15 years of experience in corporate recruiting and executive search, Stephanie works with hiring managers, HR executives, business owners, and recruiting firms on recruitment and retention strategy including how to better utilize social media for talent acquisition and employee communication. Stephanie is a regular contributor to Talent Net Live and The Matrix Wall, and she partners with Todd Schnick to produce the video blogging series He Said, She Said.

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