Interviewee Questions to Ask & Avoid

Regardless of the position level you have achieved over the course of your career, you will want to prepare a well thought out list of intelligent questions to ask your perspective new employer during the interview process.

If the firm has informed you that their common practice is to conduct consecutive interviews in their hiring process, I would suggest asking only a few questions during round one, and leave the more complex and in-depth questions for the second session, typically held for ‘short-listed’ candidates.

Use your own discretion in this situation and deliver your questions accordingly, however; it is imperative that you have a list of valid and applicable questions to put forward.

If you present yourself well in an interview situation and have a calm, quiet professional confidence about you, it is likely you will be asked to attend a second interview. If you feel you need work in this area, practice with a mentor or other interested party, and/or videotape yourself until you feel comfortable and confident.

In a corporate setting, this second interview would likely be conducted via a ‘panel’ interview setting. Normal procedure dictates that following this session; the final hiring decisions are determined, followed by the preparation of an Offer Letter to be sent out to the selected candidate.

Appropriate Questions

    What precipitated this staff opening? Is this a ‘new’ position, or are you replacing an employee?
    What made my predecessor ‘successful’ in this role? (if applicable)
    What would you like to see handled differently by the next person in this role? (if applicable)
    What competencies and requirements are crucial to achieve success in this role?
    Do you feel that there is a high learning curve for this role?
    What are your key priorities for the candidate chosen for this role?
    Are there any additional skills that are now expected for this role?
    What are your expectations of me within the first 6-12 months with your firm?
    What challenges or possible obstacles do you foresee that I may have to overcome?
    What are the objectives I would be expected to meet within the XXX division?
    What are some of your long-term objectives for the XXX division, and your firm overall?
    Who are the key people I will interface with, and how can I assist them?
    How would you describe the culture of the company?
    Does the XXX department have a training plan in place for new employees?

Inappropriate Questions

    What is the salary for this role?
    How often are raises given? Bonus Structure?
    What does your firm offer in the way of a benefits package, what is included?
    Is overtime a requirement for this role, and if so, how often and how much?
    What can I do to be promoted within the XXX division or company?
    Are there any expansion plans for the XXX division?
    Do you offer free educational training?
    Will I have to share my office or work station?
    What is the personality of the boss in the XXX division?
    How long have you been with the company?
    What do you like about this company? Dislike?
    What is the company turnover ratio?
    What are the company plans for improving your financial position?

Also, be sure to take extra copies of your resume and portfolio with you as well as a note pad and pen.

As I have previously stated in my articles on interviewing, ask if you may take notes, and do so comfortably.

If you are declined, be sure to jot down some notes as soon as you are out of the interview, when everything is still fresh in your mind.

Jenni Proctor

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