3 Questions Every Candidate Should Ask in the Interview

Posted: September 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Questions Every Candidate Should Ask in the Interview

During my morning coffee today, I logged on to my LinkedIn profile  to peruse the job postings of the day for a few clients I had in the back of my mind.  As I was on there I realized it had been a while since I answered any job seeker questions and made a quick mental note to go back this afternoon and do so.

We all know how great mental notes are when you’re past the age of…mmm…sorry, must have gotten a pretzel crumb stuck in my throat there. I digress. In any event, my crackberry reminder beeped to remind me that I wanted to post an article I read this morning on Yahoo! Finance about the drop in jobless benefit applications. Somehow in my insane entrepreneurial mind that told me that I needed to head back to LinkedIn and do some question and answer posting.

Meet Carl. A candidate who posted the question “What questions are good to ask in an interview?” If I had a dollar for every time I was asked this question, I’d have a whole lot of dollars. This is such a frequently asked job search question, I have dedicated: a sub-chapter of my book, “Career Sudoku: 9 Ways to Win the Job Search Game”, created a Do-It-Yourself Impressive Interview Kit and professional speak at conferences around the country on Impressive Interviewing in Today’s Market.

It occurred to me that it’s been a while since I wrote about this on my blog. What’s a candidate need to ask in today’s interview? Here are a few questions to get you started.

Six months from now how will you know you hired the right candidate?
This question elicits information on how your performance will be measured in the position. If the interviewer is unsure in their response, proceed with caution. Your performance may be measured subjectively rather than objectively at this company.

Listen carefully as the answer also provides insight into what characteristics the hiring manager is looking for in a new team member.

What do you see at the Top 3 challenges in this position?
Set yourself up to win before you even land the job starting when you ask this question. The answer to this one gives you the functions to address on days one through ninety of your new position. This is also good information to use when formulating answers during a second interview and in writing your personalized thank-you note.

If you had one piece of advice to give the person coming in to this position, what would it be?

I love this question. It always takes the interviewer by surprise, a good surprise. It also elicits some of the best “insider” information and can quickly get to the root of a company’s culture.

Real Life Story: One of my clients had a day of back-to-back interviews and asked each person she met with this question. Her most surprising answer came from the last person she met with who said, “Eat oatmeal.” When the interviewer saw the surprised look on her face, he elaborated. “everyone here eats oatmeal every morning. If you want to fit in right away, bring oatmeal and eat it every morning. It’s the easiest way to fit in.”  She wasn’t sure if he was serious. She scanned the office as she was being walked out and noticed 3 large containers of Quakers Oats around the office. A few weeks later she was sitting in her new office eating a nice big bowl of oatmeal and chatting up her new colleagues who were all delighted to see that she, too, loved oatmeal. What a coincidence.

Interview questions are a way to make connections both during, and after, the hiring process.  The guy that gave her the inside scoop on the oatmeal has become one of her closest colleagues and has helped her establish everything from new accounts to procedures along the way.

Career Coach Confession: Candidates that walk in with at least 4 to 6 questions written down in advance on a pad folio convey confidence, interest and motivation.

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