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Interview Questions - cellophane
the story of an invisible girl
renniekins
renniekins
Interview Questions
A friend asked me about this, so I thought I'd throw the topic out to the general population. What are good questions to ask in an interview? Specifically I mean as the interviewee, when interviewing for a job.

I find this part of an interview challenging. You talk for an hour, describe your qualifications, hear about the job, and all of a sudden you're at the end and they say, "So do you have any additional questions for me?" I freeze up! Generally by that time I've asked or had answered all my questions, in the conversation. I know it's a good idea to ask something intelligent-sounding at that point, but often I just conclude with a lame "No I think you've answered everything already, thanks."

Seems like being prepared with a few ideas would be smart. Anybody have any suggestions?
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Comments
aiela From: aiela Date: March 10th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is also the part of an interview I hate. You're not supposed to ask about benefits, you're supposed to have kept track of everything else so you don't accidentally ask something that's been answered - my default lately is to ask if the position I am applying for is more of a self-directed position or if my supervisor likes to be more hands on, so I can get a feel for the management style I will be working for, but I'm not sure if that backfires on me - I didn't get the last two jobs I interviewed for, so who knows. :P
min8ive From: min8ive Date: March 10th, 2008 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why not ask about benefits? Don't discuss salary, but by all means, ask about benefits. You may hear inconsistencies, which can then be a bargaining tool should you get an offer.
aiela From: aiela Date: March 10th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Which is a fine question, but that's pretty consistant advice when I'm looking at job search tips.
specialagentm From: specialagentm Date: March 10th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Asking about benefits is a perfectly fine question. I'd really wonder at anyone who would tell you it's a forbidden topic. Unlike salary, benefits are pretty much a standard thing shared across all employees. Most companies don't want any employees disclosing salary figures to each other (that causes too much jealousy and makes management constantly have to justify why Bob gets X and Mike gets 1.5X), but I've never heard of a situation where benefits aren't public knowledge.

Note: I don't consider stock options, bonuses, etc as "benefits" -- those are compensation. However, the existence of a standard bonus program with clear rules about who does or does not qualify is something everyone should know too.

If someone asked me about benefits at my employer, I'd be glad to tell them some level of details, to the extent I felt I could meaningfully speak to them. Like, letting them know that all employees do get medical (choice of several plans) and dental, optical, etc are all ala carte add-ons with some out-of-pocket expense. Or letting them know that salaried employees at all levels qualify for a bonus plan (but not discussing details of that, other than to say that the bonus is directly tied into a review process that everyone goes through in exactly the same way company-wide).
aiela From: aiela Date: March 10th, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Where I work, benefits (including medical) are most definitely NOT equal across the board, even for people with the same job title.

I'm just going by what I've read - the 2nd from last interview I had, she spelled out their benefit plan in great detail to me. Where I work now, it's pretty much Top Sekrit and I only got health insurance after six straight months of makaing my case to the Executive Committee.
specialagentm From: specialagentm Date: March 11th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've never heard of that. Sounds like an incredible hassle for the business. I guess some small businesses try to save $$$ by not offering benefits as standard and making you fight for them, but that sounds like a big hassle too, and too much of a risk of inciting jealousy. If people get their knickers in a knot about salary compensations, finding out about inequities in benefits must really burn their britches -- you're in effect adding one more secret that people can gossip about.

I stick to my guns. As general advice, I don't think asking about benefits in the interview is ever a bad idea. Worst case, they can say that that varies and would be part of the overall offer if one were extended.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: March 11th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC) (Link)
I think some questions depend on who you're talking to, and who else you're expected to talk to. Like if I'm having a technical interview, I'd want to focus on technical aspects -- especially if there is a separate HR interview.

(Deleted comment)
fuzzyjelly From: fuzzyjelly Date: March 10th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I usually ask them what someone in the offered position would consider to be the best and worst parts of the job. I've had some very revealing answers to this including a warning about catty coworkers and micromanaging bosses. I also like to ask about the office pacing to get a feel for the place. Is it non stop crazy busy or slow as a slug? How do they like employees to deal with downtime? Who do I report to and how many others report to the same person. I sometimes ask for a 'day in the life' scenario.

Maybe I dig too deep?
From: nicegeek Date: March 10th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Like you, I've usually asked my technical questions by then, so I take that opportunity to ask about where their hiring process goes next, and try to pin down a date by which I should expect to hear from them. It gives me an excuse to follow-up, and sometimes they'll even let slip some information about whether they have other candidates interviewing for the position, which is handy when it comes time to negotiate the offer.
radiantsoul From: radiantsoul Date: March 10th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for your time, I am still very interested in the role and would appreciate it if you could outline where the recruitment process goes from here.
min8ive From: min8ive Date: March 10th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Having spent the past year attending "How to interview" classes, I know them all. You should go in with 15 questions, and always ask at least 3 or 4 (15 assures they won't all be answered by the time they ask.) "Why is this position available?" and, depending on the answer "How many people have held this job in the last 5 years?" "What is a typical day like?" "What do you expect from me in the first 30 days?" "If I exceed your expectations in 6 months, how will I be rewarded?" "What do I have to do to be promoted?" "Can you draw me an organization chart, so I can see just where I fit in?" "What do you like most/least about this company?" "What are the company's future plans and goals" "What are your biggest problems?" "How many people are interviewing?" "What qualifications are you looking for?" "Do you have any questions about my qualifications?" "How soon will you make your decision?"

I have more, if you're interested.
thatguychuck From: thatguychuck Date: March 10th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have more, if you're interested.

I am. These are great questions and cover some things I haven't considered asking in the past. I'll be interviewing for an internship in two weeks - I'm not just asking casually. :)

Thank you!
min8ive From: min8ive Date: March 10th, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
The answer to Why should we hire you? Is "I have the qualifications to do the job that has to be done, and here's what I've done in the past that proves it." or "I am a quick learning and can be productive in a short amount of time."

More questions to ask them:
Why isn't this job being filled from someone inside the company? (Maybe they know something you don't about the job.)
What are some examples of the best results produced by people in this job?
What kind of benefits/perks does this company offer its employees?
What obstacles might I encounter in getting my work done?
What would be my number one priority?
How long have you been with the organization?
What is it like to work here?
How would you describe the company culture?
How is performance evaluated?
How can I be most successful in this role?

You get the idea. Good luck!
renniekins From: renniekins Date: March 12th, 2008 03:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Good luck!
thatguychuck From: thatguychuck Date: March 12th, 2008 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I feel pretty good about it.

School has really helped with my confidence in my professional capabilities. Yesterday a past professor took me aside and told me I've been recommended to be the speaker at commencements. School has been good for me. It's never been specifically told to me, but I know I'm in the running for the schools highest singular honor, the Chancellor's Medallion Award. Only one is given to each graduating class. It's kicking my ass and it's been harder than it's ever been in my life, but I'm still doing well and enjoying it.

Well, enjoying it most of the time. The whole "homework and project overload before sleep" thing can be a pain in the arse. < grin >
ellison From: ellison Date: March 10th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I usually just end up asking where do we go from here? When can I expect to hear from you? Will you be in touch with me either way, whether I get the position or not? (In zookeeping, often people won't even bother calling you if they don't hire you, even after an interview, hence that last question.) Oh, sometimes an interesting question is to ask how long most of the other employees have been there (to find out whether it's a position with a high turnover rate or not).
thatguychuck From: thatguychuck Date: March 10th, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
When asked at the end, "Is there anything else you'd like to know?" I like to respond with something along the lines of, "What do you think would be useful questions for me to ask that I haven't covered yet?" This assumes you've already asked a few good questions. It also allows the company to share with you bits of knowledge they think are useful but that you didn't dig out of them.

It's a specific-personality type of question. It may not be suitable for everyone. I've had some odd responses. Suddenly, you're asking *them* to think. The most recent people I've asked have laughed. I try hard not to make it seem like I'm turning the tables (q/a) on them. It helps that I honestly want to know.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: March 10th, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Huh, that's an interesting approach, could be dangerous. It'd definitely depend on the person you were asking. They'll either get a good chuckle, or think you're being lazy or demanding. I suppose if you pay attention during an interview you can have a pretty good feel for whether they'd appreciate it or not. Hm, or perhaps it could be a question-after-you've-asked-a-real-question sort of thing.
specialagentm From: specialagentm Date: March 10th, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh god, you need to know so much to really make good decisions.

Task related:
"So, what sort of work would I be doing day to day? Is there a specific project I'm being hired for? What can you tell me about that?"

Team related:
"How many people are in our team/department/company/global empire? What is the organizational structure? Who would I be reporting to? Would anyone be reporting to me?"

Company related:
"Is the position I'm interviewing for part of our core business, or are we in a support role? What is the recent history of the company? What are your future plans, both in general and for this department?"

People related
"How long have all of you been with the company/on this team? What do you like about your work? What do you think I might like about it? Should I know any deep dark secrets before I accept an offer?"

I'm very much in the position that people being interviewed should feel free to ask any of the above questions. At least they all show an interest in the job. So long as you're not saying things like:

"Do I have to fill out time cards? Because, boy, let me tell you how much I hate time cards... my current boss (what an asshole), he makes me punch a clock and I think he's a jerk for making me do that."

So, yeah... keep the questions positive. Encourage a conversation. Get to know these people. If an offer comes through, you should feel you've got enough information to say yes or no (or at least a good start).
mariegraham From: mariegraham Date: March 11th, 2008 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Interview questions

Ask where the company's policy is on continuing education in this field. Explain that you are interested in working on - whatever- and want to know if there is support, and maybe even funding, for more education.
susmadel From: susmadel Date: March 12th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can you talk about opportunities to move ahead/get more responsibilities in the company as I continue in my career?
Can you talk about training opportunities?
I read xyz the other day about your company, where do you see the strategy of this xyz going?
Can you tell me about your own career? How did you end up in this position?

Hope this helps
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