How much moneys I get fer doin' this?
March 28, 2006 11:37 PM   Subscribe

You know that part of the job interview, where they ask you if you have any questions? I have a hard time thinking of questions. Suggestions?

(I'm interviewing for marketing jobs, if that makes a difference.)
posted by Kololo to Work & Money (29 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I would like to reply, "Well, what type of questions do you mean?"

Then you have tactfully put the interviewer will be on the spot to answer you with some of the things he is thinking about hiring you.

Nothing sucks more than waiting to find out if you actually got the job after an interview. The WAIT is almost scary.
posted by SwingingJohnson1968 at 11:55 PM on March 28, 2006

Depending on the person and how well it's going, I'd suggest going the personal route: How do you like/how long have you been/how did you end up working here?

People love to talk about themselves, which he/she might be glad to do after asking interview questions all day.
posted by chimmyc at 12:06 AM on March 29, 2006

I usually ask "Do you like working here?"
posted by aubilenon at 12:11 AM on March 29, 2006

A google search for "questions to ask the interviewer" turns up some good lists of generic questions.

To these generic questions, I would add that, especially if you're interviewing for a non-fresh-grad position, an interviewer is probably expecting some questions which show an understanding of doing business in your field.

Try to think of things that have gone really wrongly (or really well) at other companies you've worked at (or even heard of.) Ask gentle questions to help assess whether those things will happen at the place you are looking at. Don't be negative or condescending, of course. (If an interviewer is insulted that you are asking questions about their processes, or evasive, you probably don't want to work there.)

Of all the people I've ever interviewed, "asked too many questions" was never a strike against anyone. (of course, "being a dick" has been, so be careful!)

Good luck!
posted by blenderfish at 12:16 AM on March 29, 2006

This is an opportunity to shine. Be curious and interested. An interview should be a two-way street - it should be as much about you learning if the company is right for you as it is about them assessing you. Think of some questions that will give you some real information back. Here are some sample questions to get you started - role play them with a friend or a business buddy so that you can ask them conversationally:
  • Why did the last person leave the job? How many people have held this position in the last 5 years?
  • What do people like best about working here?
  • What do people like most about the company/the service/the product?
  • Who would be the primary people that I would interact with each day?
  • How often are reviews given?
  • How would you characterize your management style?
  • By 6 months, what would I need to accomplish for you to think I was a successful contributor?
  • Is there room to grow in this position?
  • What are some of the most challenging problems and opportunities that people in this position have faced?
  • What would a typical day be like in theis job?
  • What are the primary competitive forces facing the company?
  • How would you describe the company's culture or personality?
Good luck!
posted by madamjujujive at 12:31 AM on March 29, 2006 [9 favorites]

What's the staff turnover rate?
What social events are held, and how often?

Other stuff along the lines of what madamjujujive suggested...
posted by Chunder at 12:47 AM on March 29, 2006

I always ask many questions during the interview, and I don't wait until the end of interview to ask them. As madamjujujive said, it should be a 2-way street.
posted by Sharcho at 12:55 AM on March 29, 2006

I often have a list of things that I ask almost any employer when I'm interviewing for jobs:
  • Was the company profitable last year?
  • How many customers are repeat customers?
  • How much room is there for promotion/upward mobility in the company?
  • Some question about a current customer, or a specific product (as I work in software), to show that I've researched the company before my interview. At my last company, I asked about the API for their software and they were FLOORED that I had downloaded it and tried to use it beforehand (I was the only candidate to do so)

posted by antifuse at 2:43 AM on March 29, 2006

I usually ask questions throughout the interview. After all, I'm interviewing the company just as much as they're interviewing me. This may come with more work experience - I'm 33-years old and have held several jobs, so I have a pretty good idea of what I want from a job. I am generally asking questions whose answers should help me determine whether the interviewing company is really a place I want to work.

I think interviewers appreciate these kinds of questions. I believe it shows some maturity in the applicant, and nobody wants to hire someone who's going to be a bad fit in the position.

So, my advice to you would be to think about exactly what you want to do, in what sort of environment you want to work, and how you would like to grow professionally over the next few years. Ask questions that will help you determine whether the job for which you're being interviewed is one in which you'll be "happy".
posted by syzygy at 2:54 AM on March 29, 2006

What's the most difficult part of working here/working this job?
posted by By The Grace of God at 3:15 AM on March 29, 2006

I tend to ask about:
* specific question on the nature of the work
* what is the work environment like?
* who would I be reporting to, and how many people report to him/her?
* who is your insurance provider?
* do you have dental?
* can you describe the corporate culture?
* how would your react if you saw an engineer with a Twinkie box on his head weilding a pager like a laser, being pushed in a chair down the hallway by another engineer at 8:00PM?
(the last one is really the same as the second to last one, just more direct, and yes I asked it)
posted by plinth at 4:03 AM on March 29, 2006

So, when can I start? :-)
posted by arrowhead at 4:13 AM on March 29, 2006

I once asked if I could see the area where I'd be working if i got the job. I was the only person who asked that (found out later), and I got the job. Unfortunately the job sucked, but that's a whole other story.
posted by essexjan at 4:40 AM on March 29, 2006

What do you like least about your own job? (ask this of your prospective boss, in a second interview)

If you could pick the personality of the person who will succeed in this position, what would you choose?

I agree with the suggestions above, but note that they often produced canned responses. Managers often say they have an "empowering" style; HR directors describe the culture as "like a family." It ain't always so.
posted by futility closet at 4:46 AM on March 29, 2006

In the past, I always asked "Why is this position open?" which told me quite a bit when they answered it.

I think I got it from the '97 What Color Is Your Parachute?
posted by unixrat at 5:16 AM on March 29, 2006

Unfortunately, the questions I'd want to ask (based on my experiences at previous jobs) would probably result in my application getting tossed in the circular file. Things like "Does the CEO micro-micro-manage absolutely everything?" come to mind.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:29 AM on March 29, 2006

I probably play the interview game too much. I put a lot of thought into my interview questions when I was interviewing for academic jobs at colleges and universities, so this may not apply to your particular job or field.

First, I usually perused the webpage of the prospective school requesting additional interviews.

From that webpage, I then constructed a few questions.

One or two of my questions were meant to demonstrate my strengths. For example, if the school wanted to integrate technology in the classroom, not only would I demonstrate that I had those particular skills at the interview but I would ask a question such as "I would really like to integrate technology into my courses, is there a support system for that here such as additional seminars?" (I already would know from the webpage that this was done, and that the school wanted to move in that direction).

I would also ask a few questions that would allow the individuals interviewing me an opportunity to shine and point out their strenghts. Again, the website would point out a new grant, a new building, unique classes. They would usually become animated and enjoyed discussing the great points about that particular program.

Finally, similar to other posters, I did ask questions to determine whether I would be a good fit at that particular workplace.
posted by Wolfster at 5:54 AM on March 29, 2006

madamjujujive has a great list, and I'd add one more- "How do you see this company changing over the next few years?"

I would like to reply, "Well, what type of questions do you mean?"

If I were the interviewer here, I'd give you a big, fat, red "X" for that one, for two reasons:

- The implication is that I'm not asking good questions, and you don't want to give that impression.

- I'd take it as a sign that you're not the kind of person to whom I can just give a task and know it'll get done without having to play 20 Questions with you. HUGE pet peeve of mine.
posted by mkultra at 7:12 AM on March 29, 2006

You also may want to stay away from the "what kind of social events are held" sort of question - some interviewers take questions like that as signs that you're not really serious about the job. One question I always like to ask is "If you could change any one thing about your job, what would that be?" because the answer to that gives you some insight into the operations side of things at the company you're interviewing with; that question usually gets people to be a bit more honest about the work environment.
posted by pdb at 7:17 AM on March 29, 2006

I usually ask something that the interviewer can answer from personal experience unless there is something specific that I need to know. Like: "What attracted to your job" or "How is your typical day" or "Why do you think I should work for company X".

Another good one is asking where they think the company will be in 5 years' time. They often ask you the same.
posted by keijo at 7:36 AM on March 29, 2006

Oh and I second mkultra's advice - do NOT ask "what type of questions do you mean?". For me, as an employer, that would sound incredibly stupid. I would get annoyed and you would lose points immediately.
posted by keijo at 7:38 AM on March 29, 2006

I got some good advice here.
posted by Mitheral at 8:31 AM on March 29, 2006

Marketing jobs?

I'd want to know...

Who do you see as your natural customer base? (Who needs and buys your products/services?)

What kinds of new customers do you aspire to?

Who is your chief competition?

Are most of your contracts single-sourced or won in a competitive bidding situation?

What is your sense of why customers/clients pick you vs the competition when you win, and the competition vs you when you lose, in a competitive bidding situation?

How much of your business is repeat business, vs. business from new customers? Are you happy with that percentage, or do you want to change it in one direction or another? (Variations: How many new relationships are you looking to build? What percentage of work do you want to come from existing clients vs. new clients? How do you fill up your pipeline?)

How are you making yourself visible in the marketplace now?

How do you *want* to be visible in the marketplace?
posted by enrevanche at 8:54 AM on March 29, 2006

Read up on the company beforehand. If there's any news, ask about it, i.e., "Do you expect the new CFO to change the structure of the department?" It shows that you prepared for the interview, and that's a good thing. For technical jobs, I've asked technical questions that I was actually curious about, and that showed expertise. For marketing, look at their current marketing efforts, ask how the ad campaign went, or if they go to (name of) trade show. Better yet, if they got a good reponse at the trade show. Ask about opportunities for training and professional development.
posted by theora55 at 9:19 AM on March 29, 2006

I'm not being facetious here, but under the right circumstances you could turn the tables: "What question would you be asking if you were in my seat?"
posted by emg at 9:24 AM on March 29, 2006

I'm always astounded when I ask at the end of the interview whether the interviewee has any questions, and they answer "Uh, gee, no, I can't really think of any."

Regardless of what else happened in the interview, this is a huge red mark against them in my book. It indicates to me that they lack curiosity and a broad perspective. ("When can I start?" is arrogant and annoying, and "What would you be asking in my place?" is an obvious punt.)

madamjujujive has a great list. Another I would add is "Do you have any concerns or reservations about me as a candidate for this job?" This demonstrates maturity and good ego-strength, and gives you a chance to respond to any negative impressions or other circumstances that might stand in your way.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:08 AM on March 29, 2006

madamjujujive, sharco, and szyzygy stated the really important thing, which is that a job interview is reciprocal. There's no reason the prospective employer should be setting the entire agenda for the interview.

Why sit there passively responding until someone invites you to ask questions?
posted by tangerine at 11:28 AM on March 29, 2006

Why are you interviewing with this company? Is it because it's the only job available in that field in your area, or because it sounds like a good place to work? Ask questions to see if your suspicions and assumptions are correct. What building the job is in, who you'll be working with, what their level of experience is, whether the immediate group does any socializing outside of work, all of things things spring to mind.

Although many interviews seem one-sided (they have the job, you're some unemployed guy looking for a job) you should treat it like you're equals. They want to select you, but you should have an interest in the work and convey that to them. Thinking of questions to impress the company isn't really the right move.
posted by mikeh at 11:29 AM on March 29, 2006

I suggest asking for as much clarity as possible on any potential offer that they may make...Getting all the nitty-gritty details (comp/benefits/and so forth) in writing would be ideal.
posted by Jhaus at 6:12 PM on January 5, 2007

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