Kador is a business writer in Geneva, Illinois.
His latest book is "301 Best Questions To Ask On Your Interview".
landscape for job seekers today is more treacherous than at any time in
recent memory. If you want a
job today, you may actually have to work for it.
Do You Have Any Questions for us?”
great questions and dumb questions and, worst of all, no questions at all.
interviewer’s last question is frequently the most important one.
That’s when the interviewer smiles and says:
“Now, do you have questions for us?”
Your response at this point often determines if you continue as a
job seeker or transform into a job getter.
following five behaviors candidates exhibit in job interviews, what
behavior do you think recruiters find most unforgivable?
to look at interviewer while interviewing
is number 4. Surprised?
Candidates who do not ask any questions represent the number one
behavior that causes recruiters to lose confidence, according to my
admittedly survey of over 150 recruiters, job coaches, and hiring
managers. Still, it’s not
too bold to make this statement: you cannot succeed in a job interview
without asking a number of well-considered questions.
even great questions will not get you a job offer if you come in with
other problems. Here, in
order, are the ten attitude strikeouts that most often condemn job
of past employer
to take criticism
over aggressive, “know it all”
to look at interviewer while interviewing
to express self clearly
Vested in the Interview
interview, if the job seeker is lucky, gets to this stage of the job
interview. What you do now
controls whether or not you get an offer. The resume gets you in the door, but whether you leave as a
job seeker or employee depends on how you conduct yourself during the
to know that the candidate in front of me is vested in the job
interview,” says Janice Bryant Howroyd, founder, CEO, and chairman of
Torrance, CA-based ACT·1, the largest female, minority-owned employment
service in the country. “If
the candidate doesn’t have any questions, that really clouds my
estimation of their interest and ability to engage.”
Bryant Howroyd’s practice is to ask just one question, and then
immediately throw the ball to the job seeker.
Bryant Howroyd’s first question, after greeting the job seeker,
your understanding of our meeting today?
that for turning the interview topsy-turvy?
But Bryant Howroyd understands she can tell more from candidates by
the quality of their questions then by the quality of their answers.
The next instruction is even more surprising:
now like you to ask me seven questions.
on the quality of the applicant’s response to the first query, Bryant
Howroyd invites the applicant to ask her from three to seven specific
questions. The higher her
initial estimation of the applicant, the more questions she requests.
What’s more, Bryant Howroyd gives the applicant permission to ask
her any questions at all. No limits. And
then she listens. “I learn
a lot more about people by allowing them to ask me what they want to know
than by having them tell me what they think I want to know,” she says. True, the hiring company owns the identification of the
applicant to be selected, but “the applicants I most admire insist on
being full partners in the selection process,” she says.
you really ready for an interview with Janice Bryant Howroyd?
Upton is a career coach at Bernard Haldane Associates, the
largest career management firm in the US.
Based in the Dallas, TX office, Upton coaches her candidates
to ask two questions of the hiring manager.
The first question is:
that we have talked about my qualifications, do you have any concerns
about me fulfilling the responsibilities of this position?
seem counter-intuitive to ask the interviewer to articulate his or her
concerns? Many candidates
think so. But they are being
shortsighted, Upton argues. Once
objections are stated, the candidate can usually address them in a way
that is satisfactory. Unstated
objections will doom the candidate every time.
second question is:
my direct report in this position, what are the three top priorities you
would first like to see accomplished?
question, she says, effectively identifies the hot buttons of the hiring
manager, demonstrates that the candidate understands the priorities, and
underscores the candidate’s commitment to action by the final word in
the question. Remember,
“accomplish” is a term dear to the heart of every hiring manager.
If you don’t
ask questions in the interview, many recruiters will wonder if you will
avoid asking questions on the job. “If I set up a scenario for a technical candidate, and they
don't ask qualifying questions, I really wonder if that is how they would
approach an application development project,” says Kathi Jones, Director
of Employee Central at Aventail, a Seattle-based provider of extranet
services. “Are they letting
ego get in the way of asking the hard questions?
Do they play on a team or play against the team?
I think you can learn as much from someone's questions and their
thought process as you can from the answers,” she adds.
wrinkle. Recruiters and executive
search firms expect
candidates to ask enough questions to form a good opinion about whether
they want the job or not. If you don’t ask enough questions, recruiters who may
otherwise be willing to make you an offer may nevertheless reject you
because they have no confidence you know what you would be getting into.
“At the end of the day, as the interviewer, I need to feel satisfied
that the candidate has enough information on which to make a decision in
case I make an offer,” says Richard Kathnelson, VP of Human Resources at
Syndesis, Inc. in Ontario, Canada. Open-ended
questions that generate information-rich answers signal to Kathnelson that
he is talking to a resourceful candidate who knows how to make informed
decisions, a skill vital to any job.
to Susan Trainer, senior Information Systems recruiter with RJS Associates
in Hartford, CT. She
interviews hundreds of candidates to determine if they represent a good
fit for her client companies. “It
makes me crazy when I ask a candidate if they have any questions and they
respond with either:
No, you have answered them already.
How many vacation days does your client
are so many things you can screw up in a job interview and not asking
thoughtful questions when you have the opportunity is probably the biggest
one. Interviewers want to
know how candidates collect information, and the easiest way to know that
is by listening to candidates ask questions,” Trainer says.
is a real chance for a candidate to shine and set themselves apart from
all the other job seekers. When
I am prepping a candidate to go on an interview, I usually give them two
or three very pointed questions to ask in the interview, and then we talk
about another three for them to formulate,” she adds.
Her two favorites
In what area could your team use a little
Why did you come to XZY Company?
questions you ask, and how you ask them, do as much to differentiate you
from the competition as the questions asked by the interviewer,” Trainer
insists. As you prepare for
the job interview, your questions have to be as carefully coordinated as
your suit and shoes. If you
miss the opportunity to leave your interviewer with any one of these
impressions, you risk losing the main prize.
questions emphasize that you are taking an active role in the job
selection process, not leaving the interviewer to do all the work.
Active is good. Great
questions demonstrate that, far from being a passive participant, you are
action-oriented and engaged, reinforcing your interest in the job.
questions is an excellent way to demonstrate your sophistication and
qualifications. The questions
you chose indicate your depth of knowledge of our field as well as your
general level of intelligence. Asking
questions also enables you to break down the formal interview/candidate
relationship, establish an easy flow of conversation, and build trust and
rapport. The matter of
rapport is critical. Remember,
most finalists for a job are more or less evenly matched in terms of
qualifications. What gives
the winning candidate the nod is rapport.
questions steer the interview the way you want it to go.
Questions are a form of control.
You can also use questions to divert an interviewer’s line of
questioning. If you sense the
interviewer is leading up to a subject that you’d rather avoid—your
job hopping, for example—ask a question about another topic.
After a lengthy exchange, the interviewer may not return to her
original line of questioning.
senior the position you are seeking, the more important it is to ask
sophisticated and tough questions. Such
questions demonstrate your understanding of the subtext and context of
this position, as well as your confidence in challenging the interviewer.
Hiring managers will judge you as much on the inquiries you make as
on the responses you provide. If
you don’t ask sufficiently detailed questions, it will demonstrate lack
of initiative and leadership qualities that a senior level position
Rules for Framing Better Questions
The art of
asking questions is considering what responses you prefer and framing the
questions to maximize your chances of getting the answers you want.
Here are 15 rules for asking better questions.
the Interviewer Can Answer
Questions that are Obvious or Easy to Determine
Questions that Call for a Superlative
or Loaded Questions
Questions that Hint of Desperation
Questions that Focus on What the Company Can Do for You
Questions that are irrelevant to the job or organization.
Ten Great Questions To Ask
the makeup of the team as far as experience?
Am I going to be a mentor or will I be mentored?
What does this company
value the most and how do you think my work for you will further these
What kinds of processes
are in place to help me work collaboratively?
What can I bring Company
XYZ to round out the team?
Do team members
typically eat lunch together or do they typically eat at their desk?
What’s the most
important thing I can do to help within the first 90 days of my
you have any questions or concerns about my ability to perform this
When top performers
leave the company why do they leave and where do they usually go?
What do you see in me?
What are my strongest assets and possible weaknesses? Do you have any
concerns that I need to clear up in order to be the top candidate?
Who are the
“coolest” people on my team?
What makes him or her “cool?
Can I meet them?
Dumb Questions Candidates Actually Asked
it possible for me to get a small loan?
is it that your company does?
I see the break room?
are your psychiatric benefits?
many warnings do you get before you are fired?
you guarantee me that I will still have a job here a year from now?
anyone notice if I came in late and left early?
does this company consider a good absenteeism record?
job description mentions weekend work.
Are you serious?
is the zodiac sign of the company president?
do you define sexual harassment?
my office be near an ice machine?