What questions should I ask an insider?
March 20, 2014 7:28 PM   Subscribe

I am beginning the application process for a much-desired position. One of my good friends works in a similar position for the same company on the other coast. I will definitely have her ear during the application and interview process, and I want to make the most of being able to pump her for information. However, I don't even know where to begin. What questions should I ask her that will give me usable insight into the company, that I can turn around and use to strengthen my resume (and hopefully land and ace an interview)?
posted by tippy to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I would definitely mention that she is your friend and refer to previous conversations you've had with her during the interview. It's a huge benefit for them that you have a built in friend/mentor who's already doing good work in the same position. So - ask her all the questions you think you'll be asked :-) Show her your resume and ask if any of the wording is unfamiliar. Every company has it's own lingo, especially concerning positions and responsibilities. I would very much let her lead you in terms of advice - ask her what she would want from a replacement.
posted by xammerboy at 8:04 PM on March 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ask "who are they looking for?" so that you can be that person that they want when you write your cover letter, and when they interview you.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:28 PM on March 20, 2014

Ask questions about the company culture, and about the team you may be joining. If she can be frank, ask her to be frank. Personality management is not a thing you can find out easily on your own externally.
posted by cendawanita at 2:39 AM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

What are the most significant issues the person in this role will be expected to deal with? What approaches to solving those issues are off limits? Any favorite ideas?

What are the company's prospects? Recent news about the company/division?
posted by elmay at 5:23 AM on March 21, 2014

I can understand your wanting to prepare good questions if you're talking to a stranger or interviewer. But if she's a good friend, maybe you can just say, "I'm not sure what specific questions to ask you, but, what you can you tell me that will give me usable insight into the company, that I can turn around and use to strengthen my resume (and hopefully land and ace an interview)?"
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:28 AM on March 21, 2014

I'm a bit confused about your question - there should be lots of questions you should have if this position is 'much desired'...

What makes it desirable (and undesirable too) should drive the conversation: what does your friend love about what he/her does, what does your friend not like so much?

The most important thing to strengthen the resume is to tailor it to the position and all you can find out about it, both from your own research about the company and role, and then from conversations with your friend (and other people your friend may introduce you to).
posted by scooterdog at 8:52 AM on March 21, 2014

You want to make a personal connection with the interviewer. The two questions I use are:

What drives you crazy?

What do you need that you're not getting now?

This lets me use my abilities and experience to meet the interviewer's needs.

I once got a response "Nobody can read my handwriting." I got the job by picking up a sheet from his desk and reading it off.
posted by KRS at 12:48 PM on March 21, 2014

"What surprised you most about working here?"
posted by Rykey at 11:21 AM on March 22, 2014

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