At the end of the interview are you prepared with questions?

You’re nearing the end of your interview.  The interviewer asks you “do you have any questions for me?”

Now what?

Hopefully, you have been asking questions all the way through your interview.  But if not, you better have a good list of questions at the ready or you will be viewed as unprepared and/or disinterested.  Neither option is good.  Here is a quick list (certainly not all-inclusive) of questions you should be prepared to ask.  You can ask questions about the job, the company/culture, your responsibilities or the rest of the interview process.  You can tailor any of them to meet the specifics of your situation.

Here are some examples or thought-starters:

Questions about the job and your responsibilities:

When I start, what would be the top 3 things I would need to address or focus on in my first 30-60 days?  (This is important to ask because regardless of what the description says or what has been discussed in the interview up to this point, their answer will tell you what’s important to them and what they need you to focus on.  It also mentally places you in the position.  You want the interviewer to see you in the position.)

Based on our conversation, do you feel there are any issues with my background and experience that would keep me from receiving an offer?  (Take the opportunity and a pro-active stance to address any objections they may have about your candidacy.  You may not feel comfortable asking about your perceived deficiencies regarding your candidacy but it’s better to ask now in the interview setting where you can address them immediately and get an idea of where their head is rather than to wait to hear you didn’t get the job.)

Questions about the company/culture:

How long have you worked here?  (Are they brand new too?  If so, they may not have great insight into the company just yet.  If this is the case, follow-up with this question: why did you decide to work here?)

What do you like best about your position?  (Do they provide a ‘canned’ answer or do they provide something specific?  Their response could be telling.)

What do you like best about the company?  (Is it the free soft-serve in the cafeteria or is it the autonomy they’re given to do their job?  There’s a wide gap between the two.)

What would you change about the company is you could?  (This will give you a glimpse into how they view the company.)

Questions about the rest of the interview process:                 

Is there anyone else I need to speak with as a part of process? (Companies these days are notorious for not wanting to make a hiring decision. To support this behavior, many of them will throw in additional interviews at that final stage for additional reinforcement of their decision to hire or not hire.)

What is the rest of the process? (Do they know or does it sound like they are making things up as they go?)

When do you intend to make a decision? (Listen carefully to their answer. You will be holding them accountable to this if the process drags on.)

How many other candidates are you talking to? (You want to know as much about your competition as possible.)

When can I expect an offer? (You know what their offer would look like because the salary has already been discussed.)

It Won’t Be Like This For Long

It Won't Be Like This for Long

It Won’t Be Like This for Long (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you out of work?  How long have you been looking?  How long has your neighbor, friend, sister, whoever…been looking?  Or are you worried that your current position is going away soon?  Either way, it’s not good.  Stress and anxiety are common ailments through this phase of life.  And what’s worse is that if this isn’t your first round of unemployment, it more than likely won’t be your last.

You’re probably thinking, “geez Chris, I sure wish you wouldn’t be such a downer.”  Well, I’m not a downer.  I’m actually a hopeless optimist; always a glass-is-half-full kind of guy.  I have long preferred to see the good in a situation rather than the bad or negative.  That’s just how I’m wired.

But I’ve been where you are.  I know it’s not fun.  Actually, “fun” is a word that shouldn’t be anywhere near the situation.  But believe me, there are better-paying positions, better bosses, and better opportunities out there.  I know, I’ve found them.  I’ve shared them.

It’s important to realize that no matter what your current situation is “It Won’t Be Like This For Long.”  I put it in quotes because I’m stealing the words from one of my all-time favorite artists: Darius Rucker.  That’s my kind of music.  I listened to that song on the way in to work this morning and I thought about things from his perspective in the song.

Think about it, how many things last forever?  With the singular exception of God’s love, nothing does.  Periods of pain, discomfort, joy and happiness come and go.  They do not go on without end.  If you’re a parent, you know this well.  You bring your new baby home and the next thing you know they start crawling.  Then they say their first word.  Then they start kindergarten.  Wow, how did that happen?  Next they’re getting their driver’s license.  After that they graduate from H.S.  Then college.  Next they get married.  And can you believe it?  They’re now having a baby of their own.  All that happened and all you did was turn around.  It happens that fast.

As I was listening to the song this morning, I realized how lucky I am.  I recently came out of a job search with a new position.  The job-search process was very cleansing.  It was difficult but it also had its moments.

Like what you might ask?  First, the love and support of my amazing wife.  I’ve had that for a wonderful 18 years.  I do not take it for granted at all.  But when hard times come – and they will always come – I am fortunate to have chosen my wife.  It’s the best decision I have ever made.  With any luck, your spouse is like mine.  One that loves you truly and whole-heartedly.  One that will support you through anything.  If so, that’s more than half the ballgame right there.  And if THEY’RE lucky, you love and support them every bit as much.  That’s the way it needs to be if it’s not.

Secondly, new friends.  To say that being unemployed throws you out of your comfort zone is an understatement.  Everything about being unemployed is uncomfortable – at least in the beginning.  It gives you an opportunity to plug-in to new networking groups, volunteer opportunities and people.  One of my favorite quotes is: when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  You might not know why you lost your job.  But maybe it was for the singular purpose of meeting someone you would have never met otherwise.  Maybe it was so you could connect with someone who can help you build your own business.  Maybe it was to meet the one person who was going to tell you the one thing you needed to hear to change the trajectory of your life.  Laugh or sneer if you want.  I’ve seen it happen.  It’s miraculous.

In my recent job search, I met several people I now consider good friends.  I hope as they read this, they know who they are and smile.  We were sharing a painful yet cathartic experience.  We were supporting and encouraging one another.  I have learned so much from them.  To this day, they are still encouraging me and I hope I’m still encouraging them.

Next, new opportunities.  When we are going about our life, going through the daily activities, things can have a tendency to sneak up on us.  In my case, I didn’t realize the negative impact my job was having on my life.  It happened slowly, day by day.  It was such a slow process I didn’t see or feel it happening.  It was only after I was gone that I realized how stressed I had become.  I felt liberated.  It was entirely freeing.  I started networking even before I lost my job.  I knew it was coming and had a few weeks to mentally prepare.

I came across multiple opportunities and had many interviews.  The opportunities took me from Chicago to San Francisco and Seattle.  You might as well have a little fun creating possibilities for yourself while you’re uncomfortable.  Open yourself up to look at all the opportunities and possibilities before reflexively saying “no”.  Out of all the positions I interviewed for, only 2 paid less than what I had previously been making.  Most paid considerably more.  If I had still been at my previous job, I wouldn’t have even known about what else was out there.  I would have still had my blinders on wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my career.

Best of all, more family time.  I was driving home from a networking meeting one morning and my wife called me.  My in-laws were in town and my wife wanted to know if I wanted to join them at the zoo.  It was a glorious day.  The sun was out, it was about 70 degrees and I had my sunroof open listening to my favorite tunes on the radio.  If I had been working, I would have missed that opportunity to be out and about with my family on such an awesome day.  It also happened to be spring break so the kids were home all week.  I got to see them a lot.  Later in the week, I got to join my wife and kids on their annual trip to the bowling alley with my dad – their Grandpa.  Years ago, my parents started the tradition of taking them bowling on spring break and my dad has continued the practice in the years since we lost mom.  I can tell you this: it’s more fun to be sitting in a bowling alley at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon with your family than sitting in a weekly meeting.  Take it when you can get it.  Appreciate what you have.

Are there any other advantages you can think of while being unemployed?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

No matter what you’re going through, remember this: “This phase is going to fly by so baby just hold on.  It won’t be like this for long.”

Is your job search going mobile? It should.

Here are some quick stats to get you thinking about one way you should approach your job search.

  • 1 in 5 of all job searches are now made via mobile (Google)
  • 30% of company traffic is now coming from a mobile device (WRC)
  • 63% of passive candidates used mobile to search for their next role (Educate)
  • 90% of smart phone users use mobile to read emails and search the web (ALP)
  • 61% of users will go to a competitor site if you do not have a mobile site (Forbes)

In my life there have been two distinct job-search worlds; one when I graduated from college, the other just recently.

Here’s what my job-search world looked like when I graduated from college:

I graduated in May of 1995.  The next month I got married.  At that point, we certainly had no money and only an idea of what we wanted our future to look like.  Obviously, the first priority was finding me a job.  It seemed only fair.  At that point, my wife had two.  Actually, I was working a retail position.  But it was time to find that ever elusive “career” track.

Back then I read the want-ads in the Sunday paper and circled the best possibilities.  Because we did not have a home computer or printer I would find some time during the week to go over to my father-in-law’s office and use his.  I would update my resume and write a cover letter, print it out and put it in the mail.  So after reading an ad on Sunday I would be lucky to have my resume/cover letter in the mail by Wednesday or Thursday.  Talk about lag time.  Obviously, it was not the quickest or most efficient system.  But I had to use the resources available to me the best way I knew how.

Contrast that to what my job-search world looked like when I was searching for a new position just a few months ago:

This time, no want ads.  It would have been difficult to do that since I haven’t had a subscription to the paper in several years anyway.

I did lean on all the other avenues available to me, however.  The most valuable was my network.  I have spent the intervening 15+ plus years since my post-college job search building it and I knew it would be a powerful tool.

I also created several job-search agents on various job boards that met specific criteria I entered.  The various systems would then email me the daily results.  By the time I woke up every morning, I would have anywhere from a handful to several dozen opportunities waiting for me in my inbox.  Even before my feet hit the floor in the morning, I could respond to any particular opportunity I chose by submitting my resume which was stored on my smart phone.  I use the Galaxy S II and am a huge fan.

I had several versions of my resume to reflect various aspects of my career.  I could choose which one to send based on the details of the opportunity.  If a particular opportunity required me to make additional changes to my resume I would get on my laptop, make the changes and store the new version on my phone as well.

If a lead came through that looked really exciting I would get on Linked In and see if anyone in my network worked at that particular company.  I would then reach out to them and ask for their help in networking with the right people at the target company.

The best example I can think of to illustrate how things have changed in my two job-search worlds is this story:

I was meeting a member of my network for lunch.  I got there early and as I was a waiting, another member of my network who happened to be located in Pennsylvania had forwarded me a really good job lead.  I looked through the details, composed an email/cover letter and sent it off with the appropriate version of my resume.  By the time my lunch was over I had already received a response from the recruiter.

It’s fascinating to me how things have changed.  Years ago, looking through the paper it took days to respond. Today, anyone can receive and respond to opportunities in real-time all thanks to advances in technology, their network and their smart phone.  Did I mention I love my Galaxy S II?

If you don’t use your mobile device for your job search, you are missing out on a lot of opportunities.  The ability to respond to opportunities in a timely manner is essential.  Don’t miss out.