Bring Five Questions to Your Job Interview

 I continue to be surprised to hear from hiring managers that too many job applicants are coming to interviews without doing their homework. 

Whenever I hear this complaint, I recall an informational interview when my jaw nearly hit the floor.  Responding to my question why he was interested in working at Ketchum, one interviewee said he had always been interested in advertising.  I politely ended the interview moments after asking him what else she knew about the agency.  Blank stare.  Sadly, this isn’t the only time I’ve received the “I’ve always wanted to get into advertising” response. 

Thankfully, most job applicants do their online research about prospective employers.  However, many interviewers tell me that they’re surprised with the lack of thoughtful questions raised by applicants.  A really good question, therefore, can set you apart from other candidates.  Do your research and try to bring at least five solid questions to a job interview.  If you’re interviewing with several individuals, don’t use all five on each person.  Spread them out or bring a few more.  Every agency is different, ask them about their vision, mission and growth plans by speciality.  Demonstrate awareness about what makes an agency profitable.  Don’t ask about benefits, vacation and tuition reimbursement (that happens all too frequently, unusually when the applicant is prodded for questions and they’re not prepared with more relevant questions). 

I was glad to see the importance of good questions mentioned in Sunday’s New York Times “Corner Office” column featuring Lars Bjork, CEO of QlikTeck, a data software company founded in Sweden and now headquartered in Radnor, PA. 

When asked how he evaluates candidates during the hiring process, Bjork said:  “Have they prepared questions for me?  I find it peculiar when people come into an interview and they have no questions for me.  You’re going to make a big bet on your future and you have no questions about where you’re going?”

4 thoughts on “Bring Five Questions to Your Job Interview

  1. Great topic, Ron and perfect timing! What are some of the best questions you’ve been asked by prospective employees? Besides advertising, vacation time, tuition reimbursement and benefits, what other questions should people avoid?

  2. Most questions are standard fare, but I take note when anyone asks business-related questions. Some of my favorites: What are your goals for this agency in the next year/five years? Describe what you’d consider “rock star” success from a new hire into this position? Describe the culture of this organization and how it might differ from other experiences you’ve had.

  3. At LEAST 5 questions! I think even more because you never know how many of them the interviewer will already answer before you even get a chance to ask them.

  4. Hi, Ron-

    I am currently a junior at the University of Oregon and conducted four informational interviews last term with companies I am interested in applying to work for upon graduation. Some of the best advice I received in one of my courses was to do exactly what you are saying. I interviewed an employee at Edelman, and if I had not spent hours researching the complexities of the company, the interviewee would have been bored out of her mind. She enjoyed answering the questions I prepared to ask her, and I got to learn a lot more about the company from someone’s first-hand experience. I always like to ask what the employee enjoys most about their job because it allows you to really get insight to the overall feel of the company.

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