Ask Not What the Company Can Do for You, but What You Can Do for the Company

Sound familiar? I saw JFK’s famous quote recently and thought that this same mindset can be applied to the candidate interview process. Questions asked by candidates in an interview speak volumes about the person, so you want to be sure that you are asking the right ones and are avoiding those that will turn prospective employers off. Your questions in the beginning of an interview process should say to the employer, “here’s what’s in it for you” versus “what’s in it for me?”. Regardless of your career level or interviewer, here are 10 questions that you should never ask during a first round interview or in the beginning stages of the process:

  1. How much vacation time will I get?
  2. When would I be eligible for a raise or a promotion?
  3. What do the benefits and employee perk packages look like?
  4. My commute here would be long, would a later start and end time be acceptable?
  5. Is there flexibility in working from home?
  6. How many hours on average do you think I’ll be working?
  7. Are my responsibilities limited to my job description or will I be performing duties outside the position scope?
  8. How does the company recognize and reward its employees?
  9. Can you describe the company’s employee review process, commitment to diversity and ongoing training/professional development programs?
  10. What would my onboarding and initial training period look like?

While some of these may certainly be factors you are considering in your employment decision, you should wait until you move further along through the interview process to broach these subjects. Once you’ve proven you’re the perfect fit for the job and have sealed the deal, ask away. In addition to dazzling interviewers with your responses to their questions, you need to impress them with questions asked by you. During your initial meetings, stick to questions that are related to the organization, the business, the department and the role. Some good examples are:

  1. How has the business or department evolved over the past five years?
  2. What’s the company’s vision? What are the projected growth plans over the next five years?
  3. What are the company’s biggest priorities?
  4. What are the biggest challenges facing this department currently?
  5. In which area are you looking for the person in this role to make the greatest impact?
  6. What do you hope the person in this role achieves within the first six months?
  7. What would be the first big assignment/project/task that the person in this role would take on?
  8. What does success look like in this role?
  9. What do you see as the biggest challenge in this role?
  10. What competencies do you think are most critical for success this role?

These questions demonstrate that you’re thinking in broader terms, have a genuine interest in the company and are thinking about how you could potentially fit into and add value to the business. Responses to these questions will also help you to further determine gaps that exist in the organization or department and how you could work to fill them.

Bottom line: avoid “what’s in it for me?” questions during the job interview until you’ve proven your value.

What are your thoughts? What other questions do you think candidates should never ask in the beginning stages of an interview process? Hiring Managers, Recruiters and HR Professionals – what questions have been asked by candidates that have turned you off?

About Amy Phillip

Leadership Career Consultant/Resume Writer committed to bringing out the best in my clients & helping leaders succeed in their careers.

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