General discussion


DOWNLOA Get a better picture of a potential job by asking these questions

By JodyGilbert ·

After you take a look at this download, please post your feedback, ideas for improvements, or further thoughts on this topic.

--The TechRepublic Downloads Team

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

Thread display: Collapse - | Expand +

All Comments

Collapse -

Not too useful

by hlhowell In reply to DOWNLOAD: Get a better pi ...

Hi, Jody,
I used to interview people for a large corporation. Here are some comments, point by point:
What do you find most frustrating about your position? (Ask this if the interviewer is in the IT department.)
No interviewer will answer this. They are in essence advertising their company. Any one selected for interviewing will not wash dirty laundry in public.

Why is this position open?
The interviewer will generally be speculating if they answer at all. Again, you are asking someone to air an issue. They will not do this, and if they do, I wouldn't count it as bad for the company, but poor selection of interviewers.

Can you describe a typical day in this role?
This is a good question, and certainly should be asked if you are sincerely interested in the position.

Where do you see this position in three to five years?
You don't care about the postiion in three to five years. You are wanting to know about what your chances are for promotion. Wording it this way is poor communications and doesn't give the interviewer much to work with. Most postiions simply are what they are. A better question is what are the requirements excell in this position, and what is the career path for this position.

What is the company's policy regarding training?
This is generally a part of the company's package that is generally available on the website. If it is a company with 20 or fewer employees, there is probably no formal training position, and if greater than that, you could then ask this question if you had checked their website or other material and not seen any thing about training. Otherwise if you are interested in the managers position on training time, ask the directed interviewers this question.

Would the job description assigned to me be based on my interest areas?
This is really out there. A company hires people to get specific jobs done. If the job isn't in your interest area, why are you applying?

What are the company?s financial stability and future growth possibilities? Never ask this unless you are joining a startup. If the company is publically traded, check the prospectus, look at the financial charts and become familiar with the company's products. Then say something like "Your new XYZ product looks very promising. Do you think it will achieve a higher market share?" In otherwords, do your homework.

Could you describe the work culture (do people work overtime, etc.)?
This could bias your opportunities. In a professional organization, everyone works some degree of overtime when the situation requires it. If you will not do that, say so. Don't try to be cute. Of course if you tell any prospective employeer, "I don't work overtime", I wouldn't wait by the phone for a call back either.

What are the personal growth opportunities (such as leadership training, company-supported community work, and mentoring)?
For a large company this is a good and valuable question, shows a positive outlook, a person driven to improve themselves and to contribute to the company. I would like any interviewee to ask this question (I never got it once!)

What is the training budget for the IT staff?
No interviewer will divulge company cash issues to a potential competitor, which you are until you take the job. Forget this question.

How many IT employees do you have?
Again, a question oriented toward a large corporation. But this is OK.

How many people are supported by the IT staff?

What technologies have you implemented?
Unless this is a second round or later interview, you are not likely to be speaking to anyone who could answer this question.

What are your major IT initiatives for the year?
Again, this speaks to the company's internal structure. They will not generally answer this, even if they can, and if they do, it will be only in general terms, and most likely would not make too much sense to you unless you were privy to the internal operations of the company. IT is becoming more focused every day, and as such this "generic question" is not valuable.

Instead of an inquistion for the interviewer, be aware of the company, its products, potential, stock and current quarter and next quarter projections. This information is in the prospectus available from any stock broker.

Check the website, see what they have and how it seems to work. Find out if there are any discussion groups of the company or bloggers.

In short, an interview is just another of life's assignments. Do your homework.

Finally an interview is just like a date, where marriage is the eventual object. Look for a match, check out the relationship, and look for potential happiness in finance, work, and the overall relationship. You want a career or a job. Make the choices that are best for you.

Les H

Collapse -

Great points

by JodyGilbert In reply to Not too useful

Les, Thanks so much for your analysis. I especially think the issues that the candidate should research on his/her own (the "do your homework" stuff) are points very well taken and important for job hunters to always keep in mind.(How could someone interview for a job at a Web site and not visit the Web site first... and yet I've seen it!)

I'm wondering one thing: In those areas where an interviewer isn't going to divulge information (frustrations, planned IT initiatives), couldn't a candidate still gain some insights/impressions by observing how the questions are fielded? I'm not suggesting they should be coy or sneaky, but maybe something will be revealed, even if it's not a direct answer to the question...? Just curious. Anyway, thanks again for your post!


Collapse -

Do you ever really know?

by scotiwi In reply to DOWNLOAD: Get a better pi ...

In my opinion and experience it doesn't really matter how many questions you ask in an never really know what a place is like until you work there. I have been 'sold the dream' before where people have given the desired response to all of these questions only to find when working there that the 'reality' is quite different to the 'dream'!

Collapse -

Additional questions and strategy for followup

by eaglet3d In reply to DOWNLOAD: Get a better pi ...

On the question: "What do you find most frustrating about your position?" The intent here may be to find out what challenges exist in the company. I have a slightly different strategy that has usually worked for me. I ask these questions toward the end of the interview, after the interviewer has a chance to 'warm up' to me.

First I ask "What do you like most about your job?". Most interviewers will be happy to discuss what they enjoy about the job.

Once I know the interviewer's motivation for staying with the company, I ask "What do you like least about your job?". Although some interviewers may try to spin their answer, overall, it gives me a good picture of the challenges being faced within the company. In my follow up email to the interviewer, I highlight how I can help alleviate or better still, overcome the challenges presented.

At the end of the interview I will ask, "How do you see me fitting within the company (organization, team, etc)?". This gives me another chance to address any possible objections or weaknesses that the interviewer may have perceived about me.

I make it a point to ask these questions of each interviewer. Although some will try to spin their answers, a pattern will usually emerge where you can identify the ones who are spin doctors. Personally, I prefer to know the good and bad about a position. The devil that you know is better than the devil that you don't know. Armed with this knowledge, I can become better prepared to find a way to positively improve the situation or worst case, be mentally prepared to just deal with it if the challenges are beyond my control.

Collapse -

Cannot download

by CedarLakeSplash In reply to DOWNLOAD: Get a better pi ...

Would like to review this, but cannot download.
Can someone help?


Collapse -


by Raven2 In reply to Cannot download

Does your system block popups? Disable that for this download.

Collapse -

Good questions! And more tips!!!

by joyb In reply to DOWNLOAD: Get a better pi ...

I am a Career & Life Coach and many of my clients are IT people. Before I became a coach, I was a recruiter in the IT environment.

Your questions are excellent one. My philosophy is that you can always have lots of questions prepared, but how and when you ask them is crucial. This requires wisdom and excellent listening skills. First of all, it?s very important to structure your question in order of importance. The initial questions should be ?all about them.? Then, and only then, it is time to ask questions that are ?all about you.? This way you show interest in the company?s needs first. They like that. Below I have changed the order of your questions to support my opinion, and I have added some of my own. As I said, the order is important.

Plus, it?s good to ask a variety of ?open ended? questions and ?closed ended? questions. This keep the interviewer talking and your conversation will flow more easily. Closed ended questions start with, ?How many . . . What technologies . . . Do you think . . . ?? They elicit a quick response. Open ended questions are, ?Describe for me . . . Tell me about . . . In your opinion, what . . . ?? This keeps the interviewer talking. You want to keep them talking because they?ll tell you more and you?ll build rapport. Here?s my suggested questions.

(After reviewing the company?s website - make comments about the information you?ve read to let them know you?ve checked them out. Then ask questions based on your findings from their site. 2 or 3 will do. You don?t need to ask a lot.)

Then . . .

?It?s all about them?

1. I see by the job requirements that, ______, and _____ are needed. Tell me, in your own words, about the most important functions of this position. (open ended)
2. What will be the most challenging aspect of this position? (closed ended)
3. And what is the most frustrating part of this job? (closed ended)
4. How many people are in this department? (closed ended)
5. How would you describe the work culture? (open ended)
6. How many people are supported by the IT staff? (closed ended)
7. Tell me about your major IT initiates for the year. (open ended)
8. What is your most pressing challenge at this time? (closed ended) This is a hot question and may elicit some dialog. You may want to put your consultant hat on and offer some suggestions. Keep asking questions and identify how YOU can be the solution to their challenges.
9. What are your goals over the next 2 to 5 years? (open ended)
10. What technologies have you implemented? (closed ended)
11. Tell me about the company?s financial stability and future growth plans? (open ended)
12. What about training budget? How much have you allocated for the year and why types of training have you planned? Also, what is the company policy about training? (closed ended)
13. Is there anything else about this position and the department that you think I need to know about? (closed ended, and yet could elicit a longer response, and depending on the answer, it may require more questions. Remember that IT managers like questions, especially intelligent ones.)

?It?s all about you?

14. Is this a newly created position or are you refilling it? Overall, tell me why this position is open. (open ended)
15. Describe a typical day in this role. (open ended)
16. What are the opportunities for advancement? (closed ended)
17. What about personal and professional growth opportunities such as leadership training, mentoring, etc? (closed ended)
18. Tell me more about how the company supports the growth of the individual employee. (open ended)
19. My overall goals for the next 5 years are . . . . (make sure your comments are appropriate for this job. If you?ve done a good job with asking questions and ?listening? you?ll say the right thing) . . . How do you see us both benefitting based on my goals?
20. Time to close: Go over your notes and make a quick paraphrase, letting the interviewer know that you?ve paid close attention to what?s been discussed. Then, ask: Is there anything else you?d like me to know?
21. Thank you for your time. When do you plan to make a decision on this position?
22. How many candidates have you interviewed?
23. Am I going to be strongly considered for this position? (ASK this question. You might as well know right now where you stand. It has been my experience that most people will tell you the truth, especially if the interview has gone well and you?ve made a good impression.)

Like I said, you can have lots of questions prepared, but use your gut level to determine which ones to ask. It?s amazing how many candidates DON?T listen - I estimate about 70%, so be one of those in the 30% and you?re way ahead of the rest. Skill is important, yes! But personality and your ability to relate are high up there on the list. Good luck!

Collapse -

Great questions.

by Raven2 In reply to Good questions! And more ...

Thanks for sharing your expertise. This is important to know before you get to the interview stage.

Related Discussions

Related Forums