Questions from the candidate help focus job interviews

Posted: Sunday, January 07, 2007

Job interviews are first and foremost a chance for the employer to get a feel if you're the right fit for the job, but that is not the only thing that should be going on. You, as the job seeker, should be interviewing the company to see if it is the right fit for you. To do this, be sure to ask the right questions during the interview - questions that will help you gather the information you'll need to determine if this is the right match.

According to Judy Baehrle, human resources consultant from the MidAtlantic Employer's Association in Valley Forge, Pa., be sure to ask what their expectation are for the person they hire.

"Other questions we suggest asking include, 'Can you explain the position and describe the type of person you would like to hire? Is this a newly created position? If not, what happened to the person who held it before?' These are the type of questions to ask," says Baehrle.

Be professional

As for what not to ask, try to keep things business-related only.

"Stay away from asking personal questions of your interviewer, even if his or her office is filled with family photos," stresses Baehrle. "Remember, you are the one being interviewed."

Interviewers will always be on their best behavior to position themselves in the best light, says Maggie Bellville, president of Carter Baldwin in Atlanta. Therefore it's important to dive into the company and see what's really going on there.

"For example, if they tell you the last person in this position left or moved on, try to dig a little further and see if there are any red flags," says Bellville. "Follow very closely to your own antenna. As you walk around, what does it feel like? What's the buzz? Are people happy? Those feelings give you a good sense of a company and what's happening in it."

Big picture

As you ask questions, be sure to dive into the whole cultural element of the company.

"You're there interviewing because you have the experience and the expertise," says Bellville. "But there's cultural elements you need to dive into. Where does the company play together? Where does the power reside?"

Bellville adds that there's also the element of taste.

"If you are used to being in a bank and they expect you to be available for conference calls on Saturdays and Sundays, then you won't be a good fit," she says. "Also, everyone will tell you a company is highly principled, but how do those principles align with you? Do they want people to believe in what they believe in or do they want you to be politically correct? How do you find out? You ask."

It's important to ask these questions so you don't make the wrong move.

"Yes, we all want jobs, we all need them, but you're better making sure the fit is right from the outset," says Bellville. "No one will understand you if you say they made you work too many long hours. You're better off knowing their expectations and the culture and how you fit into that."

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