How important is it to ask questions at the end of your interview?

One of the most overlooked pieces of an interview is the opportunity for you to ask the potential employer questions about the job. The two things that can leave the most lasting impression on the interviewer are how you start the interview and how you finish it. When you reach the end of the interview and the interviewer asks you: “Do you have any questions for me?,” it is imperative that you have questions readily available.Not just any questions either, good questions. If you do not have questions prepared, the interviewer may think that you are not interested in the position. So what are good questions? I have several of my favorite questions that I recommend to ask which I have shared with you below. Additionally, I have started discussions in various forums to see what other people felt were good questions:

“Give me three words to describe the company culture…” This was a question shared with me by the VP of HR of a major corporation.It is his favorite question to be asked at the end of an interview and can often give you insight into the company.

My favorite questions to ask at the end of an interview are:

“What sort of ramp-up period do you expect for someone coming into this positions?”
“What qualities does your ideal candidate possess and how do you see me fitting into those parameters?”
“Of the people who have had this position in the past what have you found worked most effectively about those individuals and what, if any, were the areas that you would have liked to have seen improvement in?”
“What has been your biggest challenge with filling this position?”
“What is it that you like about working for XYZ company?”

Additional questions shared with me from the various discussion include the following:

What are the primary goals you see for the individual you hire for this role in order to be successful – in other words what are the challenges that currently exist that needed to be dealt with first and foremost? This gives you an opportunity to expound on how you could go about dealing with those challenges or how you’ve dealt with similar challenges in the past.

After discussing my qualifications etc., is there anything that would concern you about my ability to take on this role? This gives you an opportunity to address any areas that you may not have covered well previously.

I’m excited about the potential within this position and particularly with XYZ company, what are your next steps in the interview process? You need to know what to expect next. 

What has been the extent of change in the firm’s policies and procedures due to the recession?

What is your leadership style?

What are your communication preferences (i.e., email, vmail, text, IM, cell, in-person, etc.)?

What are the learning goals you would like your team to accomplish
(i.e., technical proficiency, current expense policy, in-house intranet,
etc.)?

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Top 10 Interview Do’s & Don’ts

DO…

Show up 15 minutes early
Bring 3 copies of your resume and of your references
Thoroughly and completely fill out your application
Dress professionally
Listen intentionally for what the employer is saying, as well as what they are not
Bring your best attitude (no complaining about past employers)
Prepare yourself for the interview
Have a firm handshake and good eye contact throughout the interview
Take occasional notes during the interview
Send “thank you” letters

DON’T…

Bring too much with you to the interview (you do not want to be distracted by having too many bags, props etc…)
Take excessive notes, which can distract the interviewer
Interrupt the interviewer!
Justify or defend why you left your last position-keep it upbeat and positive
Memorize and repeat information from your resume, keep it original and interesting
Bring up salary or benefits
Pretend you know something you don’t
Chew or eat anything during your interview! (unless of course it is a lunch interview)
Wear perfume, scented lotion, or any distracting colors or jewelry
SHOW UP LATE

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What are some sample interview questions I will be asked…

Here are the most basic interview questions you will be asked during an interview:

Tell me about yourself…
Why did you leave your last position or why are you looking to leave your current position?
Why should we want to hire you?
Why would you like to work for us?
What is your biggest weakness?
Tell me about a time you worked with a challenging boss or co-worker and how you handled it…
What is your greatest achievement?
Do you prefer to work as part of a team or independently? (this is a trick question-the answer is always BOTH!)
What is your bottom line salary requirement?
Do you have any questions for us?

For a list of additional interview questions I suggest the following websites:

http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interviewquestionsanswers/a/interviewquest.htm

http://www.quintcareers.com/career_doctor_cures/job_interview_questions.html

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Should you send a “Thank You” Letter?

I often get asked by job seekers whether or not they should send a “thank you” letter after their interview. The answer is always YES! I highly recommend sending at least one, if not two “thank you” letters. Ideally, you should send one “thank you” letter via email the same day as your interview. Then, you should send a follow up, hand-written “thank you” letter via snail mail the day after your interview. This way the company will think of you at least twice after the interview.

The next question I get asked is: What should go into the “thank you” letter? The answer is simple, keep it short, sweet and to the point. Below is a sample of a generic “thank you” letter. I would encourage you to modify it and make it your own or come up with your own version that expresses you.

Dear Mr. Jones,

It was a pleasure meeting with you today. I thoroughly enjoyed discussing the position you have available at ABC company. After speaking with you in depth about the position, I am even more interested in the opportunity. I think my skills make me uniquely qualified for this position and I think I could be a tremendous asset to your team.  I look forward to being a resource for your company.

Thank you again for the opportunity to interview with your company.

Sincerely,
Jennifer K. Hill

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My biggest pet peeve as a recruiter…

When you are beginning to consider going out on interviews and you are currently working, it is critical that you set aside time for these interviews. One of the most frustrating things for a recruiter is to push a candidate in for an interview, and have the candidate come back and say they cannot make it. When you are looking for a job you need to make yourself available during regular business hours Monday through Friday between 8am-6pm. On very rare occasions, an employer might be flexible and see you early in the morning or after work, however, most companies need you to interview during work hours.

If you ask a recruiter to submit you for a position and they are able to get you an interview, it is very important to make the time to go. Most companies will give you options of several different days and times that you can go. If you do not wind up going on the interview that a recruiter or company has set up for you then it can reflect poorly on you as a job seeker and that company may not be willing to consider your background again.

If you cannot set aside some time for interviews, then you are probably not ready to start your job hunt.

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The 30/30/30 rule

What is the 30/30/30 rule and how can you use it to find your next job? The 30/30/30 rule is something I have come up with to help guide job seekers on how to effectively maximize their time during their job search. We all know that times are tough and it is not as easy as it use to be to get an interview, let alone a job offer. It is for this reason that the 30/30/30 rule is a perfect guideline to help you understand what you should be doing to get yourself interviews and job offers.

For the 30/30/30 rule, I recommend that you spend 30% of your time attending networking events during your job search, 30% of your time using social media tools such as Linkedin , Twitter and Facebook to help you find a job and 30% of your time applying to positions online. If the 30/30/30 rule has been utilized effectively the last 10% of your time will be spent out on interviews.

Why spend 30% of your time networking? The reason is simple. Over 80% of positions are found through word of mouth and of the 80% of people who find jobs via word of mouth a majority of jobs are found through casual acquaintances, such as the people you would meet at networking events. For a full list of networking events in your area check out www.meetingsandmixers.com or go to www.meetup.com to find a local group of people with similar interests to yourself.

Why spend 30% of your time using social media? Job hunting is a whole new ball game with websites like Twitter and Linkedin now advertising jobs. You can both passively and actively job hunt through these websites. Posting a profile on Linkedin is a great way to increase your visibility to employers. Twitter is a great way to start conversations with companies you may want to work with and other specialists in your field. For a list of the top 50 ways to use Twitter in your job search go to: http://applicant.com/twitter-job-search/

Finally, you should be spending 30% of your time applying for jobs. This is a no-brainer, but bears mentioning. I often have candidates come into my office and tell me that they cannot find anything. When I ask them how many places they have applied to they often give me a blank stare. You cannot find a job if you are not at least sending out your resume. Send your resume to companies that have positions posted, but don’t be afraid to reach out to companies that might not be actively looking.

You never know where your next job will come from!

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