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Questions You Can Ask Your Job Interviewers Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit

Question: When I go for job interviews, it seems that a part of my brain turns to mush. Even if the session is going good I still get so nervous. I find it hard enough trying to remember answers to behavioural questions and the interviewer's name at the same time. That's why I sometimes forget to ask them questions before I leave. Any hints on what to pose questions about so that I look interested?
Mariella C., Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Dear Mariella,

It is a good idea to have some questions prepared about the employer you're interviewing with. You not only demonstrate your interest by way of the queries you pose, but you may also pick up some important clues about how the employer operates.

Usually the time for you to ask questions arrives in the winding down stages of the interview. By this point you've had your opportunity to make a great impression. Now the employer is inviting you to ask a few questions if you have some. There are three basic categories of enquires you can choose from: questions you'd actually like answers to; those you want to ask so that you look impressive; and the ones that are back there just in case.

Unfortunately the questions we would dearly want answered, such as ''what's it really like to work here?'' or ''would you recommend to a good friend that they get a job here?'' are the ones that require substantial truth which is not likely to be fully forthcoming while you and the interviewer are doing your respective wooing dances. With each side on its best behaviour it can be hard for anyone to let their guard down.

Still, you're expected to have questions, and here are some reasonable ones:

- What would be the ideal attributes of the person who is in this job?

- How would you describe the organization's operating culture?

- Why is it that this position has become open at this time?

- What is the general style of the manager or supervisor I would be reporting to?

- What would you see as the top challenges facing the candidate who accepts this job offer?

- If someone had given you one piece of advice on your starting day here that would have really helped you, what might that piece of advice have been?

It's not a bad idea to review the employer's website once more the day of your interview. Check for recent news about them in their ''News'' or ''Press Release'' section. This'll keep you sounding leading edge, and you can ask about the latest announcements they've made about themselves publicly - just one more way to move yourself a little closer to getting the offer.

P.S. After each interview concludes, it's also standard practice to ask when a decision might be made regarding moving to the next round.

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