Interview Questions to Ask Prospective Employers

Written by ruth mayhew
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The best time to ask questions of a prospective employer is during your face-to-face interview. Ask basic questions during the preliminary telephone screening; however, save other questions to ask during a personal interview with the recruiter or hiring manager. Asking questions demonstrates that you researched the company, that you're interested in the job and that you're selective about the kind of job you want. You can also impress the interviewer, depending on the depth of your questions. Importantly, asking certain questions helps you decide if the company and the job are a good fit for you and your professional goals.

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Reason for Job Opening

Asking "why is this job vacant?" sheds light on the work environment. If the person who currently holds the position is interviewing you, there's a strong likelihood you'll get an honest, truthful response. When a current employee participates in the recruitment and selection process for her successor it's usually a good sign that the employee's departure is an amicable one. If you ask this question of another interviewer and cannot get a straightforward answer, ask other probing questions that give you some insight on how co-workers interact with each other and the relationship that exists between employees and their supervisors or managers.

Typical Duties

A recruiter may not be able to answer "what is a typical day like in this position?" However, a hiring manager who interacts with someone in your future role can probably tell you more about the day-to-day activities of the job. Asking a question like this not only gives you an idea of what the routine job functions are, but it also gives you an opportunity to ask follow-up questions in case there are job duties with which you're not familiar or challenges you might encounter throughout your day. If you're interviewing for a first-year attorney position at a prestigious firm, for example, chances are your daily routine will consist of less glamorous tasks than arguing cases before a jury. Another attorney with the law firm can tell you more about the kinds of tasks you'll be expected to perform while in the office and not in the courtroom.

Business Reputation

The answer to "what is the company's market share?" tells you how well the company is doing in its industry. This is an important question for potential managers to ask. It demonstrates that you have sufficient business acumen to be concerned about your prospective employer's business ranking. Market share indicates how much of the market the company is able to obtain. For example, assume you're interviewing for a job in the Missouri gaming industry where there are four casinos in the area market and the casino you're interviewing with has 44 per cent of the market share. That means the other three casinos all share 56 per cent of the market. The casino you're interviewing with is an industry leader and can likely offer job security. You should also ask about long-term business statistics to determine if the company you're interviewing with has a solid record.

Performance Standards

As long as you avoid questions like "When am I eligible for a raise and bonus?" asking a "how will my performance be evaluated?" shows you are a conscientious employee. If the answer to your question leads to a discussion about annual salary increases and potential bonuses, you've accomplished even more by asking this question. On the other hand, if the hiring manager doesn't conduct performance appraisals or if he's unsure how employees receive feedback on their job performance, it may be a sign for you to look at opportunities with another employer.

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