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10 Questions to Ask Potential Employers

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We've provided countless resources on what questions you may expect to be asked on an interview, and how you should answer them. But equally important is what you ask of your interviewer.

ADVANCE consulted recruitment experts Bruce A. Hurwitz, PhD, president and chief executive officer, Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, LTD (www.hsstaffing.com) and Anne Howard, recruiter, Lynn Hazan & Associates, The Executive Recruiting Firm in Communications and Marketing (www.lhazan.com) to find out what you should ask.

Why is the position open?
This is a reasonable and even expected question. The answer can speak to the stability and the opportunities related to the facility and the position. If it's been newly created, or the previous employee has been promoted internally, the company is expanding and there are opportunities for professional growth.

What did the previous employee do that you would want continued (or discontinued)? 
Demonstrate that you want to succeed and please your employer by finding out how the previous holder of your position was successful, and hit the ground running in the right direction.

What is the average length of employment at the company?
Always ask and answer questions in an interview that demonstrate an intent to remain with the facility for the long term. Employers want employees looking to grow with the facility, and to avoid the high cost of turnover after training a new employee looking for a temporary stop.

What is your policy on in-house advancement?
Similarly, if you are planning on sticking with one facility, you want to make sure there are opportunities to grow within the ranks, and further your career with the facility.

What is your policy on professional development?
Always calculate fringe benefits into your measurement of a position. A company that emphasizes professional development will be more likely to subsidize your time and costs associated with continuing education opportunities, making it easier to earn your CEUs and maintain your credentials.

Can you provide a breakdown of the responsibilities of this position?
Compare jobs by evaluating how much of your time will be spent on tasks you enjoy, versus those you would rather avoid.

Five Questions to Avoid During Job Interviews1,2

    What does this company do?
    Do your research ahead of time!

    If I get the job, when can I take time off for vacation?
    Wait until you get the offer to mention prior commitments.

    What is the pay?
    Similarly, wait as long as possible to begin salary negotiations, until you've received an offer, or know you are a top contender.

    Can I change my schedule if I get the job?
    If you need to figure out the logistics of getting to work, don't mention it now.

    Did I get the job?
    Don't be impatient. They'll let you know.

What's your policy on cross training?
If the position in question is in one department but your dream is to work in another, this question is a subtle way to see whether this employer may enable you to make that transition down the road.

What are the company's short- and long-term goals?
This question shows that you can take in and contribute to the bigger picture, and that you plan to provide a value to your staff and the company overall.

Why do you like working here?
This question has a two-fold benefit. Learn the inside perks of a company and what the employees enjoy about the facility, while engaging the interviewer. Everyone likes to talk about themselves. If you can spark a friendly rapport with the recruiter, they may remember the ease of your conversation and weigh that on your side.

What type of person succeeds here?
While you can't necessarily mold your personality to a job (and shouldn't), asking this question can help you determine if you will be happy in the company, if you find yourself in a position to choose between offers. For example, high caseloads can require a driven personality, who can buckle down and turn out quick, quality work. In slower or more rural facilities, employers may be looking for therapists who have a wider range of skills. 

Kerri Hatt can be reached at khatt@advanceweb.com.


Reference

1. Warner S. Interview the Employer. Available at: http://laboratorian.advanceweb.com/Features/Articles/Interview-the-Employer.aspx. Last accessed Nov. 30, 2011.

2. About.com. Interview questions and answers. Available at: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/interviewquestionsanswers/a/interviewquest2.htm. Last accessed Nov. 30, 2011.


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