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VOL. 45 | NO. 25 | Friday, June 18, 2021

Asking the right questions when looking for new job

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Sometimes, the devil really is in the details. This is especially true when it comes to the questions you ask when you’re looking for a job.

Asking the wrong question, or not asking the right question can get you into trouble when you least expect it. And, it can be tricky to know when to ask.

There are a few good rules of thumb to follow.

The first applies to networking. When you’re meeting someone new, they want to get to know you first. They (in theory) have no specific ulterior motive and hope you don’t, either.

When you first meet someone, avoid asking if they’re hiring. Chances are good they’re not hiring, and if you ask this up front you might send the message that you’re not interested in getting to know them unless they can give you something.

Do ask them if you can stay in touch. Ask to connect on LinkedIn. Ask to have coffee (virtual or in person). Relationship building might eventually lead you down the path of a new job.

Another situation happens when you find a job posted, perhaps the perfect job at the perfect company. And, you’ve either found a great connection there or already have one.

When reaching out about a specific job, be up front about it. A hiring manager will want to know that you‘d like to be considered, so be sure to ask. Ask them if they have time to meet with you to discuss the position. Don’t hint around and hope they’ll get the drift. Be direct.

The most important place for questions is the job interview. It’s truly amazing how much your questions can influence the outcome of an interview.

First, have questions – lots of them. Having a long list of questions doesn’t mean you have to ask all of them, but it does mean you’ll have options to go to when it’s your turn to ask questions.

One of the primary complaints I’ve heard from hiring managers is that the candidate didn’t ask questions. The hiring manager assumes the candidate isn’t interested in the position (or worse, is lazy), while the candidate simply feels all their questions were answered during the job interview.

Avoid this situation by asking a few questions at the end. But, keep your questions focused on the job. Do not ask questions that reflect an “all about me” attitude. Topics to stay away from include pay, vacation time or anything else that isn’t specific to the work itself.

And, always ask about the company’s timeline and their expected next steps.

First impressions are as important as qualifications are. The questions you ask will influence a hiring manager’s decision.

Fortunately, there’s time to plan. If you draft your questions in advance and ask a friend for feedback, you’ll be on your way to success.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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