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Five questions to ask during a job interview

Five questions to ask during a job interview

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Aug. 25, 2011 at 9:20 a.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- A job interview feels awkward to a lot of people. You feel like you're under a microscope, the boss is asking you questions designed to trip you up. It's nerve-wracking.

David Hilbig, president of OCM/Lee Hecht Harrison of Utah says many people get so nervous that they keep talking to avoid pauses in the conversation, inevitably saying the wrong things. He says people need to do as much listening as they do talking.

It all starts with studying the company before the interview. But, what should you study, specifically?

"I'd go to the company website and see what they're broadcasting, what they're emphasizing," Hilbig suggested. "If they're proud of their history, it would be worth digging into that. If they're proud of their growth and progress year over year or sales or new product development, those are things you definitely should study."

Hilbig says it might also be a good idea to drop by the business and speak with workers about what it's like to work there.

But what might really set you apart from other candidates may be the questions you ask during the interview. Here are five Hilbig thinks are important to ask.

  1. "Why is the position open?" Sometimes a job posted is a completely new position and the person who fills it may be able to write their own job description. There are other times when a job is open because the previous person was fired. This is a good opportunity for you to find out how to avoid previous problems.
  2. "Are there any internal candidates applying for the job?" There are times when a company posts a job opening because they legally have to. The boss may interview a few outside applicants, but in reality is already planning to give the job to Jimmy in accounting. The deck is stacked against you in this case, but Hilbig says you might be able to overcome this by highlighting your abilities. "If your qualifications are so much stronger and match in every way, and you've had other experience, it's not insurmountable," he said.
  3. "What would you expect me to accomplish within six months?" You'll have an easier time knowing how to show the boss that you are exactly the person the company needs if you know exactly what he's hoping to find. This question gives you the perfect chance to learn precisely what the employer wants so that you can show how your experience fills their needs.
  4. "What's next, and what is your timeframe?" "That way, you can manage your expectations and not sit there waiting for the phone to ring day after day," Hilbig pointed out. Some bosses need to fill the open position immediately. Others have a little more time. Hilbig says he's seen the decision process stretch on for months, in some cases.
  5. "How do you see me matching your needs?" Or, "Do you have any concerns about me?" This is a veiled way of asking, "How did I do?" The person interviewing you may seem intimidating and intelligent, but that doesn't mean their perception of you is entirely accurate. Hilbig told me a story about a man who asked the boss if he had any concerns, only to be told the company was looking for someone with a college degree. The applicant then reminded the employer that he did have a degree. As it turns out, the interviewer had him confused with another applicant. This question could help you clear up misunderstandings like that.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

Paul Nelson

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