Asking Your Own Questions of Yourself, Your Recruiter, and Your Potential Employer
Questions to Ask Yourself Even Before the Interviewing Process
If I've learned one thing since I got into this business, it is that the candidates who get the best jobs and make the best opportunities for themselves are the candidates who ask the best questions. They ask questions of the right people and ask them in the right way. It often has been said that the difference between average people and the most successful people is in the questions that the most successful people ask.
Most every book or program about finding a job will address the kinds of questions you should ask during the interviewing process. The list of questions can be endless. Teaching you the questions to ask isn't difficult. However, the difference between candidates who get the best job offers and negotiate the best opportunities for themselves and those who don't isn't the questions they ask. The difference is knowing whom to ask the questions of, when to ask the questions, and how to ask them.
The timing of asking the right questions during the interviewing process can make a difference of everywhere from either getting the job or not to a $15,000 to $20,000 increase in salary over what a prospective employer wants to pay. The key isn't just asking questions, it is the timing of those questions and asking them in a manner that catapults you ahead of your competition.
Asking even the right question of the wrong person can destroy your chances of successful interviews. For instance, if you ask a Human Resources representative or a third party interviewing authority a question like, "What is the most prominent deficiency in the department I will be interviewing
with?" and they don't know (which they probably won't), or something like, "What are the personality strengths and weaknesses of the hiring authority's supervisor?" and they don't know (which they probably won't), you will embarrass them and they won't "look good." And, since you have made them look incompetent, you most likely won't move up the interviewing chain. After all, who wants to "promote" someone who makes them look bad? The last thing an H.R. or interviewing authority wants is for you to tell a hiring authority that the person that initially interviewed you just didn't know a lot about the job.
I'm going to teach you when to ask the right questions, whom to ask them of, as well as how to ask them so that you give yourself every advantage to get the best offer. I have personally been involved in more than 100,000 interviewing cycles since 1973, one candidate at a time, referred to individual hiring authorities for anywhere from one to multiple interviews for each hiring situation. Sometimes my candidates got hired, sometimes they did not. But I have experienced candidates asking every kind of question you can imagine, including the ridiculous and the absurd. I know which ones work and which ones don't.
My experience has taught me well. Asking the right, intelligent question in the right way, of the right people can make you. This is an obvious example, but take the question of salaries and compensation. If you ask, "What does this job pay?" (wrong way to ask the question) in your initial interview (wrong time to ask the question), you will probably eliminate yourself from being considered. If you ask about the work environment, like "What's it like to work here?" (wrong way to ask) before you get a job offer, you have probably just lost the race.
So, I have broken down the questions you should ask in the interviewing process into sections based on events before, during, and after the interviewing process. I will not only explain how to ask most of the questions, but I'll share with you what you need to look for in the answers you get, depending on the person answering them.
Keep in mind that, whether you like it or not, you are not likely to be at this same company four or five years from now. You have to interview as though you were going to be there forever, but reality is that you are going to use this job as a stepping stone to the next one. So, the answers you get to certain questions regarding your future may mean something different than they did a few years ago.
In this chapter, we'll look at questions to ask yourself—even before the interviewing process begins. In the chapters to follow, we'll look at questions to ask throughout the rest of the process, from before your initial interview to questions to ask yourself after each interview, and finally questions to ask when you get an offer.