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5 Questions To Ask During A First Interview

Ken Sundheim

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Ken SundheimRunning a recruiting agency for years now, here are 5 questions I reccomend that any entry-level job seeker ask on their 1st interview.

Is This a New Position or a Replacement Position?

Upon your first interview, if you find out that a position is a replacement position, you must dig a little bit deeper as to why the person was replaced, what is going to be expected of you, how is your background similar and different to that of the particular individual who held the job prior and how, if you were chosen for the job, you could make a positive impact this time around.

If the position is a newly opened position within the organization, this typically alludes to the fact that the company is in some sort of growth mode. This, for a job seeker, is an ideal situation; growth equals stability. Once you receive this growth information, it is best to further inquire as to the reasons why they are growing and where the company sees itself 5 years from now.

How Long Has the Position Been Open?

This question can tell you a lot about the company, the importance of the job, how quickly the firm completes set tasks and how swift their decision making process is. For instance, if the position has been open for months, this may allude to the fact that the firm has a complacent atmosphere that will not work well for the job seeker who wants a position with vertical movement.

Additionally, a job that has been open for an extended period of time, despite what you may be told, is not going to play an integral part in the day-to-day operations of the company. There are exceptions to this rule, but they are few and far between. Common sense would lend itself to the assumption that positions of importance are filled quickly and are treated with the utmost importance.

When Are You Looking To Bring This Individual On Board?

Asking this question will tell you how organized the hire is and how organized the people behind the hire are. Do they have a firm date? The best answer to hear following the inquiry is asap. However, by asking this question, you can allow yourself to inform them that you would to give two weeks notice or whatever timeframe worked best for you and your current employer.

Nonetheless, when formulating this number, make sure that you are fair to both sides and don’t push the start date further than 3 weeks. That is, unless you have a very sound, rational reason to do so.

If you are not employed, I strongly recommend that you do not lay down firm start dates and let the employer take the reins as, more likely than not, you should be able to start tomorrow. Having this mentality and flexibility as somebody who is unemployed shows the employer that you are driven, interested in the position and willing to step in with both feet.

What Sort of Strengths or Gaps Do You See In My Resume and/or Background?

Asking this question will allow you to leverage your perceived strengths in the future interview rounds and it will also allow you to mitigate any hesitations the employer regarding the gaps in your current skill set or prior experience. The inquiry is still very advantageous on your part, as prior to the next interview round, you can compensate by learning what you need to.

Furthermore, this will help you gauge whether you truly have a shot at the job. If, after asking this question, you are given 10 weaknesses and only 1 or 2 strengths, then pursuing further is going to be a waste of your time. Plus, if a company sees so many weaknesses in you, do you really want to work in that type of atmosphere?

Whom Will I Be Reporting To?What’s Their Background?

An interview is a great time to find out about your boss. There are a plethora of takeaways you can obtain from this question. For instance, if your boss has been with the company for 20 years, then quick upward mobility is probably not in the cards. This shows complacency; in business, the word has a negative connotation.

Furthermore, getting the boss’s name will allow you to do some web research on the person. Who is he or she “LinkedIn” to? Do they have a visible Facebook page? Learn everything about this individual, as you are going to be their subordinate for the near future. Never base your decision whether to work for the person because you think they could be a friend. Employee-employer relationships are best based on respect.

While on topic, another thing to make sure that you ask is whether or not the person was with the company prior to being in their current management job. If so, that means that there can be a true future with the organization and they like to promote from within. If they brought the person in from the outside, this could be somewhat of a red light as, 5 years from now, you don’t want to be waiting for a promotion only to have somebody come in from a direct competitor.

An additional factor to keep in mind is that even though your potential boss may have gone to the same college, maybe has a mutual friend or grew up in the same town, keep the non-business chitchat to a minimum and don’t let this sway your decision either way.

Ken Sundheim runs KAS Placement DC Recruiters Marketing Headhunters Washington DC Executive Recruiting Firms a NYC executive search and recruiting firm NYC staffing agency recruiter and Los Angeles headhunter agency marketing recruiter Los Angeles employment solutions


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