July 29, 2015

10 Questions You Should Always Ask a Potential Employer


Welcome to Recruiter Q&A, where we pose employment-related questions to the experts and share their answers! Have a question you’d like to ask? Leave it in the comments, and you might just see it in the next installment of Recruiter Q&A!

This Week’s Question: It comes to the end of the interview, and the employer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” What question should every job seeker be sure to ask at this moment, and why?

bill1. “What Is the Time Frame for Filling the Position?”

And ‘When should I expect to hear back from you?’ Always great to close with an action item, and it shows that you are interested in the job and ready to get going.

Bill Fish, ReputationManagement.com

ray2. “Aside From Experience and Skills, What Other Qualities Are Necessary to Succeed in This Role?”

At SkillSurvey, we’ve seen time and again how soft skills — things like professionalism, problem-solving ability, and management skills — can often make or break success on the job. Knowing in advance if your soft skills match up to a potential employer’s needs can give you a great indication of whether or not the job is right for you.

Ray Bixler, SkillSurvey

Tracey Russell3. “How Do You Match Up Against My Dealbreakers?”

If you have any dealbreakers when it comes to a new job, then ask these questions first. For example, if working on traditional holidays or the weekends is a dealbreaker for you, then ask about that upfront. One caveat to asking this question is that you don’t want to ask about paid time off and vacations during the first interview. It’s best to save this question for the final interview stage.

Tracey Russel, Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search

John4. “Are You a Manager, or a Leader?”

The best questions I’ve ever been asked as an interviewer are the ones that make me think, the ones that show a candidate really did their homework on me or the organization.

For example, I had a candidate once ask me, ‘Are you a manager, or a leader?’ That was a great question and helped the candidate really get at what kind of boss I would be. It showed they cared about more than just the job itself and wanted to work for a great leader.

John Fleischauer, Halogen Software

Marc5. “Can You Clarify Something for Me?”

The most important questions to ask pertain to the role you’ll be taking on
at the company. A few key examples include: ‘Can you describe what my typical day would look like?’; ‘Who will I be working with?’; and ‘What kind of setting will I be working in?’

These kinds of question all show your interest in the specific position, while also giving you a better picture of the job at hand. The most important question is ultimately going to be about whatever you don’t yet understand about the job you’ll be doing. Don’t be afraid to clarify until you have a clear picture of that. The interview is a two-way street, and you should use it as an opportunity to learn as much as possible about the position.

Marc Prosser, Fit Small Business

Laurence6. “Who Was the Best Person You Ever Hired for a Position Like This?”

When you walk into the conference room with the hiring manager, there is a
ghost there that you cannot see, but it haunts the hiring manager: the best person the hiring manager ever hired.

That ghost is the real comparison point of your candidacy — far more than the job description. By asking this question, you conjure up the ghost. Try to get the name of the ghost if you can — and then align yourself with that ghost. For example: ‘I can see why you valued Robin so much. I hope that, if you call up my last two bosses, they will confirm that — like Robin — I don’t wait to be told what to do. Like Robin, I take initiative. And like Robin, I don’t dump problems on the desks of my bosses.’

And then call your references — cue them on what to say!

Laurence J. Stybel, Ed.D., Stybel, Peabody, and Associates, Inc.

Angela7. “Why Is This Opportunity Available?”

This question will help you to understand the health of the organization. Was the last person fired? Is the company doing so well that it’s expanding?

Angela Copeland, Copeland Coaching

Christine8. “What Types of Challenges Would You Expect Me to Face in This Role?”

This is always a great question for a couple of reasons. This is a non-standard interview question, and interviewers are usually pretty bored with the common questions. This will get their attention and make them think, and it will have the added benefit of getting you some solid insight into the culture of the company. It also won’t hurt in terms of getting you some insight into the problems that have existed with this particular role in the past.

Christine Santacroce, Recruiter.com

patrick9.”How Do You Provide Feedback, and How Do You Show Appreciation for Your Team?”

If the employer doesn’t have a good answer or fumbles through the answer, then the interviewee knows the company doesn’t think highly enough of their practices to take care of the team.

Patrick Campbell, Price Intelligently

Eric10.”What Does It Take to Be Successful in This Role and at This Company?”

This is my favorite question to hear people ask at the end of an interview. It shows that the candidate thinks on a more macro level — not just about the responsibilities and day-to-day, but also about building a path for themselves in the organization.

Eric Fulwiler, Danish Country Antiques

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