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Questioning Job Interviewers

For most of us the search for employment is filled with stress. The kingpin of anxiety is the dreaded job interview. Sure, you’re excited for the opportunity to meet with the company you applied to, but your gut starts twisting the minute you contemplate being face-to-face with your potential employer.

The hiring process is getting more complicated and sophisticated these days. No longer do they bring you on board because of a firm handshake, a confident smile and an outgoing personality. Now, detailed background checking, aptitude exams, personality profiles and drug testing are pretty much standard operating procedure.

Competition in the marketplace and with your fellow job seekers is tough. Employee turnover is costly, and companies can’t afford to constantly hire and train new people. Not only is that expensive, but it can cause disruption and morale problems in the workplace.

Competency, integrity, loyalty and creativity are valuable assets that the best employers are all looking for. Most organizations want to hire the best and the brightest. How you answer probing questions about potential conflicts and ethically challenging scenarios can determine whether you get an offer. If you are currently job seeking, your brow is probably perspiring even now as you read this.

Time out. Relax. Put the antacid down. The job interview doesn’t have to twist your digestive system into knots.

The next time you are invited in for a little chat about coming aboard to help take the acme corporation to the next level, try turning the tables. Go ahead and answer thoughtfully and honestly those tough questions, then try a few queries of your own.

I did this recently at a second interview for a job I was very interested in. My nervousness wasn’t as bad as it might be because I wasn’t unemployed. If I didn’t get the job the worst thing would be I’d keep on working at “company A”.

So, after they ran me through the gauntlet of their hiring questions the general manager leaned back and asked, “So, Tom, do you have any questions for me?”

I did. I asked him what he was looking for in a good employee. His answers were not surprising: hard worker, good attitude, willing to do what the job requires and get along with others. Pretty standard stuff.

After the interview I got to thinking and wished I’d asked more. Upon reflection, I realized I didn’t know enough about their company to determine if this was truly a great place to work; it was a missed opportunity and left me regretting.

You however, can benefit from my experience. On your next job interview be composed, confident, enthusiastic, thoughtful and impressive. But don’t let the desire to score the job prevent you from doing a little interviewing of your own.

Some of the questions you might try are:

1) What are the underlying business and relational principles you operate by? (That includes clients, employees and the community.)

2) What is the company’s USP – Unique Selling Proposition – and how did you determine it?

3) When problems occur how do you want them handled – what are the procedure, process and desired outcome?

4) What is the best way to bring visionary ideas to you and the company?

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5) When my supervisor is absent who is the person I deal with? (Find out the chain of command.)

6) What’s the company policy for dealing with disasters, such as an earthquake or destructive storm, an act of terrorism or a medical emergency?

7) What would you, Mr. Future Employer, do if you were asked to do something illegal or unethical by a client? What about by your boss? (Everybody usually has one, whether it’s an owner, stockholders or business partner – if they don’t answer to anybody then it’s a good opportunity to see if they are willing to at least consider their motives.)

8) Where do you see the company in five years? (Hey, they always ask you that question, right?)

9) If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be? (Ok, just kidding on that one … I wanted to see if you’re still paying attention.)

Don’t be intimidated about this. If you demonstrate the willingness to ask them tough questions, they may be impressed with your thoughtfulness and desire to know more about them and their operating principles. There’s also a good chance you’ll learn more about whom you might be getting a paycheck from.

Looking for work is hard. It’s a job in itself. You must do the research, the footwork, and the preparation. But if you have great qualities to offer, you owe it to yourself to know what you might be getting into. The object isn’t just to get hired. It’s to use your talents to the best of your God-given ability. So, the next time you go in for that “palm-sweating” job interview, make sure you bring along some well thought-out questions of your own.

[Tom Gilbert is a writer, thinker and webguy for www.livingthesolution.com, a site dedicated to finding real answers to real life challenges. See it for resources that can grow your faith, prayer life and improve your relationship to God and others.]

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