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10 questions you should ask in an interview


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When preparing for an interview, most applicants concentrate on formulating well-crafted answers to potential questions from their interviewers. However, not many realize it is just as important to prepare a few good questions they should ask during the interview.

"When interviewing job applicants, I often learn as much from the questions they ask as from the responses they give," said John Langland, president of Langland & Langland Consulting. "What potential employees inquire about reveals what they deem important -- as opposed to merely answering my questions with information they think I will find important."

What can asking questions in an interview do for you?

  • Show your interest in the position and the company
  • Give you an active role in the interview
  • Offer explanations about the position and the company, which help you decide if you want to work for that organization
  • Showcase the depth of your knowledge and help you guide the discussion into a particular area of expertise
  • Langland suggests preparing at least three questions in advance and taking notes during the interview to record the responses.

    "A few insightful, knowledgeable questions can speak volumes about you and distinguish you from other job candidates," he said. "However as important as asking questions is asking bad questions, such as, 'How many vacation days does the company offer?' is worse."

    Langland advises asking these 10 questions during your next interview:

    1. What are the top three tasks you want the candidate to perform after being hired?

    This gives you a concrete idea of the projects you will be working on if hired. Often job ads list general qualities and capabilities the position requires, but the answer to this question will lay out the actual specifics of the job.

    2. Why did you choose this company?

    The answer will help you determine the organization's strengths and weaknesses with this insider's perspective.

    3. How do you see me benefiting the company?

    This tells you exactly what they're looking for in a candidate and where they see your strengths.

    4. Is there room for growth and advancement?

    This points to your drive and initiative and underscores your intent to secure a career, not just a job.

    5. Are there opportunities for professional training or further education?

    This shows a willingness to learn and adapt as changes in the position or industry occur. Adaptability is very important in today's fickle employment market and may make you very valuable to the company should a reorganization occur.

    6. How will I be evaluated and by whom?

    This provides insight into the company's corporate culture and the department structure in which you will be working.

    7. What is the general culture of the company?

    This can tell you if you will fit into the organization. If they're strictly a "suit and tie" operation and you're all about comfort clothes, you may want to rethink the position.

    8. Are there other job responsibilities not mentioned in the ad?

    This reveals exactly what the ad meant when it said: "...and other duties as assigned." Will you be helping other departments in a pinch? Making coffee? These are things you should know before going any further in the candidate selection process.

    9. When will you be making a decision on the successful candidate?

    Knowing this helps you gauge when to follow up on the interview.

    10. May I call you if other questions arise?

    This keeps the door open for further communication.

    The interview is an artful conversation designed to help both parties learn more about each other in an effort to decide if the candidate and the position are a good match. Use it as an opportunity to spotlight your accomplishments and determine if the job is right for you.

    © Copyright 2005. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority
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