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Things to Ask an Employer at an Interview

by Ralph Heibutzki, studioD

Interviews aren't a one-way conversation. When a hiring manager asks if you have any last questions, your response must focus on the employer's needs first. At the same time, whatever questions you do ask should provide insight into the working environment that you'll encounter, and whether it fits the values that you've envisioned for your own career. Only then will you really know if the job offer is worth taking.

Can You Describe Your Management Style?

Every manager has a different philosophy, so it's important to determine if you can accept the way that he operates, according to Rasmussen College Online Career Services' guidelines for job seekers. The quality of your relationship with a supervisor is the best indicator of whether you'll flourish at a company. An employee who wants leeway in decision-making, for example, probably wouldn't work well -- or for long -- under a supervisor who describes himself as "extremely hands-on."

How Does the Company Define Success?

Employers often have different interpretations of the details in a job description. Now is the time to avoid unpleasant surprises by facing those issues, Rasmussen College's guidelines suggest. Asking this question helps in clarifying details like production quotas, travel requirements and the type of hours that you might expect to put in. The interviewer's responses will also allow you to determine how the job fits into your personal obligations.

What's Your Idea of the Perfect Candidate?

Asking this question invites an employer to imagine you in the job, an August 2010 article in "Forbes" magazine states. For example, phrase the issue as an open-ended question. Then describe previous successes that an employer might find useful. A more focused approach also works well for eliciting this information. Ask the hiring manager to name the three qualities that he desires most, and respond with examples of why you fit them. If nothing else, the interviewer will see that you've carefully considered the issues.

Why Is This Position Available?

Companies hire for various reasons. Some are more negative than others, such as a period of high turnover, states Rasmussen College's guidelines. On the other hand, the vacancy might have opened due to a promotion. If so, you have the ideal chance to ask how your potential employer defines success, and what enabled the previous occupant to get promoted. Either way, you'll want to size up the work environment before taking an offer.

Other Considerations

Poor preparation kills credibility. How much homework you've done will be obvious if your last questions are covered on company websites or brochures, according to the advice of Virginia Tech's Division of Student Affairs. Never ask a question if you're not interested in hearing the answer. Also, avoid inquiring about specific aspects of the job -- such as benefits, or pay -- unless the interviewer brings them up. Otherwise, you'll appear selfish, which is a deal breaker.

About the Author

Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.

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