Questions To Ask The Employer

The Insider's Guide To Job Search

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Questions To Ask The Employer
published  in The Flightpath News - Week of March 19, 2003
Questions To Ask The Employer:

Your interview isn’t supposed to be a one-way street where only the employer has the opportunity to ask questions. You need to ask a few of your own to determine how suitable this opportunity is.

The first thing to determine is how stable this position is and what prospects for advancement there are. Is this a static position that has little opportunity for growth or is it a position that offers the ability to interact with other departments, learn new skills and be challenged in the future?

Why are they looking?

What happened to the person who was in this position?

A general question to find out why the person left and what the attitudes are towards the incumbent. It will also provide information on where the person has moved on within the company. This lets you know what the promotional possibilities are.

How long have you been looking?

Find out if they are in a panic or if they are taking a more measured approach to this hiring. Also, if they have been looking for a long time, maybe your negotiating position will be strengthened if you have the skills they need.

How has the position become available?

Did the incumbent quit suddenly or was there a promotion internally, or are they unhappy with the person that they have?

How often do you look to fill this job?

Informs you whether or not it is a position that has a high turnover, a position that is vacant only rarely or if it has been newly created.

After you establish why they are looking, you need to understand what they are looking for. Not every position has a growth curve. Do you have what they require and will you be happy with the scope of the responsibilities in the long run?

What are they looking for?

What is the most challenging part of this job?

This gives you a sense of whether or not the interviewer understands the demands of the job and the expectations placed on the successful candidate.

What role will I play in the department?

This will indicate how important your job is in the organizational scheme of things. It gives you a sense of the level of responsibility involved and how visible the position is for future promotions.

What kind of person has been successful in this job (in the past)?

Understand the personality traits they are looking for. Different jobs demand different levels of aggression, patience, interpersonal skills, ability to work with or without support and the ability to withstand pressure and stress. Make sure that the demands of the job reflect your basic style and personal orientation.

How will you measure my performance?

It is important that you know what the expectations of performance are and what factors they will review to assess your progress. Are the standards and benchmarks realistic and achieveable? As recruiters we often see people who are attracted by the higher income and greater reponsibilities of a career move, only to find out in the fullness of time that the expectations are either unrealistic or not suitable to their level of skill or knowledge.

What does the future hold?

If you are going to assume the risk of making a career move, you want to ensure that there are prospects for long term job satisfaction. Where will you progress to in the company? The best promotional opportunities occur in positions of higher risk. What can they offer you in the way of growth and in what general time-frame?

Where will I go within the company in the future?

This will tell you what you can look forward to. If there is a clear path of succession mapped out within the department, then you are more likely to be happier in the long-term. If this position is a good entry point into the firm, you may have more options for growth in different departments. If the interviewer or hiring manager is vague or non-committal about your prospects, there may be limited scope in the future.

These are a few of the questions that you can consider when assessing the suitability of an employer. You owe it to yourself to have a clear understanding of their expectations to avoid making a move for short term gain but long-term dissatisfaction.

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