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Questions to Ask Smaller Firms on an Interview

by Rick Suttle

Employees get lots of exposure in small companies because there are fewer people to complete assignments. Managers often have multiple responsibilities until their companies grow and hire others. And since many small companies hire top-level executives and managers first to run departments, you may be more highly scrutinized during interviews. When interviewing with small firms, make a good impression by asking the right questions and demonstrating how you are the best candidate for the job.

Primary Responsibilities

Most candidates receive open position job descriptions before interviewing. But these job descriptions don't always include all responsibilities. That's why it's important when interviewing to understand what your primary responsibilities would be, especially with small companies. Ask the interviewer to explain key responsibilities and desired skills for the job. And then match your skills to the job by describing similar projects you worked on. "Articulate your differentiating value" when interviewing with small firms, said Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, a career specialist writing on Glassdoor.com. Describe how you can help the company solve problems or improve performance. Provide specific examples of results you achieved in previous jobs.

Management Style

Ask the hiring manager about her management style. If you have been in the workforce awhile, you probably know which management style works best for you. For example, you might work best under a democratic management style, where your opinions are considered before decisions are made. If the hiring manager prefers an autocratic style of management -- where she makes all the decisions -- you would probably get frustrated the first week on the job.

Learning the Company

Ascertain that a small company is a good fit for you; you don't want to start working for a company that won't be around in two years. Learn if a small firm really understands its business. Ask the hiring manager about some of the biggest challenges her company faces. Her answer should demonstrate knowledge of the market, major competitors and even government regulations that may hinder revenue growth. If not, ask follow up questions about the company's market share in the industry and what it's doing to increase it; inquire about major competitive strategies and the company's counterstrategies.

Self-Promotion Questions

Ensure the interviewer has her questions about your background answered. If the interviewer has questions, you probably won't get the job. Small companies usually hire candidates who can make an immediate impact. When an interviewer has a concern, find out what it is and convince her that it won't hinder your performance. Overcome the interviewer's concern as a salesperson does with a client.

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