It’s that special time of year– when companies once again begin to make decisions about hiring—and judging from the number of emails I received many of you dread the above (seemingly innocuous) question the most.
As well you should.
This is one of those softballs questions (something so big you don’t know what to swing at) that can land you in hot water fast.
What to do?
First: do your homework. If there are any questions you are thinking of that can be answered by spending (a minimum!) of 45 minutes on their site, then the only thing those questions will do is reveal you are unprepared.
Second: consider your questions from your interviewer’s point of view. For example, a question along the lines of “How soon are you planning to fill the position?” may be ‘heard’ by your interviewer as pressure—particularly if he or she has an inbox loaded with resumes and a boss who is jumping up and down about the situation. (If you would like to know the answer to this, be sure to give the ‘because’ behind why you are asking, so, “How soon are you planning to fill the position? I ask because I’m really excited about the possibility of working for you.”)
Third: ask questions that demonstrate how you will be adding value once you are hired. For example, “I see you have a strong community outreach program—is that something I can get involved in immediately?” Or, “I see one of the company’s long term goals is X. In addition to filling the stated criteria in your job description, I have a background in X and I’d love to get involved in helping you meet that goal—is that something that would be appropriate once I’d been here for awhile?”
I hope the above guidelines help—please do keep me posted on how your searches are going!
Frances Cole Jones