500 Questions: Questions You Ask, Part 1

On the basis of what you’ve heard so far, do you believe I have the qualifications you are looking for?

Eliciting your interviewer’s reaction to your performance takes the spotlight off you for a moment and gives you the time to regroup. A negative response from an employer is a gift when you take it as constructive criticism and respond appropriately. Turn negatives comments around with questions of your own.

How do you envision this department over the next three years?

Your first goal is to project a picture of success and excitement in the mind of the interviewer. You want the interviewer to see you will be getting the job done in new ways.

Your company’s re-engineering eliminated about 10% of the workforce. What has been the impact on manufacturing and customer service?

Many firms today are being re-engineered. In principle that should mean a re-thinking of what needs to be done and how to do it. In practice, re-engineering may mean reducing a firm’s work force and then determining how to get the same work load completed.

Who does this position report to? How much freedom would I have to set my own goals and deadlines?

People with an autonomy/independence career anchor need to define their work their own way. They may need flexible working conditions and hours and often welcome incentive-based pay. If this sounds like you, the answer to this question may help you understand specific reporting relationships and the company’s management style.

Where does this position typically lead?

The answer to this question matters. Should you discover that the company doesn’t have a formal technical ladder or promote the career path you hope to follow, you may decide to keep on looking for a better match.

What would it take to exceed your expectations for this position?

Listen carefully to the response you receive. If you have the skills and qualities mentioned, be sure and connect your experience to the employer’s needs.

What tips can you give me for making a quick contribution to your company?

This links your particular job with the business interests of the firm. A question like this one would be especially appropriate if the position’s significance is not immediately obvious.