What you must know before (and what to ask during) a job interview
The three rules of preparation for a job interview are practice, practice, practice! Before going on a face to face interview or even doing an interview by telephone, you should already know the answers to these 13 questions to show the employer that you are a serious contender.
What you should know about the company:
- When was the company formed or founded?
- Have there been mergers or name changes?
- What are the company’s products or services?
- What is the size of the company, number of employees, rank within the industry?
- Who are the company’s primary customers and competitors?
- Where are the company’s offices, plants and facilities located?
- What are the company’s goals, their philosophy and mission statement?
- Who are the key players, Chairman, CEO, President, Minister, etc?
- What is the financial health of the company?
- How was the company’s performance in the last year?
- What media exposure and or major articles or press releases have appeared about the company within the last 3-6 months?
- What is their main focus at the present?
- What glitches or accolades have they been noted for as of late?
All of this information can be obtained through some basic Internet research and quick note taking. Do your homework.
You want to ask smart questions in the interview, questions that demonstrate your industry knowledge, and that you know about the challenges your potential role might face.
Questions that you can ask an interviewer include:
- What is the company doing to stay competitive?
- Where do you see the most opportunity for growth this year?
- What are this department’s goals for the next fiscal year?
- How are you staffing the growth?
- What is the most important contribution I could make within the first 30-60-90 days of my employment?
- What is the first assignment or issue that needs to be addressed?
- Who does this position report to? Who will I report to?
- Where is the previous person who held this position?
- How does this position fit into the organizational structure?
Before you ask an interviewer a question, mention something you know about the company or industry, then tack the question on, for example:
- “With so many American companies competing to sell these widgets right now, what is your company doing to stay competitive?” (Q#1)
- “You mentioned at the beginning of the interview that there is going to be a new product rolled out within the next two months, what will be the first assignment or issue that this position will need to address?” (Q#6)
Never ask about salary or benefits. Interview for the job at hand, not the job you aspire to down the road. Try to interject questions throughout the interview; don’t keep them all until the end. Get a dialogue going with the interviewer. Doing your research and throwing in the information you have gleaned throughout the session can make you stand out from the other candidates.
Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate Trainer
Author of Networking How to Build Relationships That Count, How
to Get a Job and Keep It
Co-author of The Power of Mentorship; The