The Career Doctor™


Dear Career Doctor:

I read your column a few months ago where a person asked about questions he might be asked in an interview. I've got the opposite question: I'm going to start interviewing for a new job and I'm wondering what questions I should ask the interviewer.


Dear ??:

Ironically, some of the questions that first come to mind are the ones you should NOT ask: What is the salary? How much vacation time do you give? What kind of hours would I have to put in? What are the medical benefits? Of course you want these answers as soon as possible, but these are questions you usually shouldn't ask until you have a job offer. Why? Interview etiquette says that you must appear to be more interested in the work than the benefits.

Some questions you should be asking, not just for etiquette, but for key information about whether you will like the job and the opportunities it presents are these:

What would my typical day or week be like? (You want to get an idea about the actual tasks you will be expected to perform and the responsibilities you will have. You also might get a clue about the kind of hours are typical.)

What kind of person are you looking for to fill this position? (Use this to come up with a "sales pitch" about why you would be good for the job. Whatever they say they want, come up with a reason why you are that kind of person or can do that task.)

Why is the position empty? (If the previous person was promoted out of the position, this could happen to you too. If the person left the company, you might ask how long they were in the position.)

How would most people describe the person I will be directly reporting to? (You are trying to get clues about whether or not this person is liked as a boss.)

Where do you see the company going in the next 5 years? (If they see good expansion, you could grow with them.)

If I perform well in this job, what could I typically expect in terms of career growth? (This question might hurt your chances of getting a dead-end job, but who cares?)

Then when you get a job offer, if you haven't been told already, you can ask the questions about salary, hours and benefits. Once you have an offer, you are in a better position to negotiate if the salary and benefits are not to your liking.

The Career Doctor


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