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Job interviews — as most people have witnessed — can be harrowing experiences.

No matter how bright or successful you appear to be on a resume, you are vulnerable when you are confronted with a face-to-face interview.

Your talent, character, and intellect will be vetted during an interview, and no matter how sound your background is, job interviewers have the power to make almost anyone squirm.

That’s unless you turn the tables. Ask the questions yourself and you’ll find that the job interview is less threatening and possibly even more productive for both you and the employer.

Here are eight simple questions you ought to be prepared to ask during your next job interview:

Why do you think I am qualified for this job? This is important because the interviewer has to remind themselves why they wanted to interview you in the first place.

How will I fit in with the people I will be working with? This immediately shows that you are a team player and, at the same time, may cause the interviewer to reveal any underlying problems in the department where you will be working.

What are your expectations for me if I get this position? This is a great question for interviewers because it forces them to identify what they want out of a new employee.

What are the biggest hurdles I will find in my job? Again, if there are underlying conflicts or problems in the workplace the interviewer could share them with you.

If someone held this job before what happened to them? If someone was promoted — or fired — this is very valuable information for a new hire. You’ll want to know what it takes to succeed and what causes failure.

How will I be evaluated on my performance and how will I know whether I am making a contribution toward the company’s goals? This two-part question can open a lot of doors. First, the job interviewer is forced to identify again what factors will be considered in evaluating job performance. Second, asking how you can see your contribution toward the company goals shows that you have a commitment to the company that supersedes just receiving a weekly paycheck.

What reservations do you have about hiring me? If there is a hesitancy against hiring you, the job interviewer may share the reason why, which gives you the opportunity to address the company’s concerns from your perspective. This is a great way to dispel concerns that may not be legitimate.

What is the career path for this job? This may sound like you asking how much vacation time you will receive, but it’s really very different. Asking this suggests that you are keenly aware the need to grow and that you are looking for a job that will give you future opportunities if you prove worthy.

The job interview doesn’t have to be intimidating. You can help make it an illuminating process by coming armed with questions that can help you avoid making a bad career choice, or reinforcing your strongest attributes and setting yourself up for a rewarding future.

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Comments

Visduh Aug. 3, 2012 @ 8:07 p.m.

Right, Kinsman! Ask those questions and watch the prospect of getting hired evaporate before your eyes. Oh, in some sort of ideal world, or when it is definitely s sellers market, those questions could be safely asked and might even get answered. (You might not like the responses if they were honest.) But see, Mike, you've always written as thought the world was a well-behaved place, filled with superbly honest people. Sadly, that is not true now, never was, and likely never will be. Job seekers: ask those questions at your peril.

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 4, 2012 @ 12:46 a.m.

2 or 3 would be beneficial, some of them were clearly no business of the applicant-like asking what happened to the previous employee.............but some of the questions would show the interviewer you're smart, articulate and not the average bear.

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boethius Aug. 15, 2012 @ 5:56 p.m.

I have done far more job interviews over the years than I can possibly remember. After the first 60 seconds of jitters is over, I feel like a seasoned veteran. Even when it is "life and death" I try not to treat an interview, interviewee, or the company like it is.

The question about expectations is a good one to ask though I frame it like this: "Looking ahead a year - what would you like the person who is hired to have accomplished in that time?" Every time I've asked it's genuinely given the other person pause and almost to the man they've all said "great question!"

Most of the other questions are, well, questionable. I definitely wouldn't ask about the previous (or current) person holding the position as legally it's almost certain they can't respond to it. I also wouldn't ask about "what reservations" they'd have about hiring you. I suppose the self-confidence to ask that question is vaguely admirable but it also puts the interviewer on the spot and forces them to think negatively about you. Hmm... what don't I like about you for this job... let me think. It just sounds like a terrible idea.

I wouldn't ask too many questions either - 3 or 4 tops. There's a fine line between engaging and inquisitive and just plain annoying. If you're annoying, you'll almost certainly get kicked out of the process. Interviews and hiring processes are often lengthy and, for the interviewee especially, quite exhausting. Don't exhaust your interviewer too!

There's no definitive tricks to getting a job. Be yourself, be relaxed, be honest, and be engaging. No need to puff yourself up or be excessively talkative to make it appear that you are REALLY interested in the job - those who suggest that are often insecure, aggressive jerks who think you have to bully your way through the process. Call back a zillion times to find out where you are? Do you think harried, overworked HR staff or hiring managers are impressed that you can bug them 50 times a day via phone or email? I've never called back a prospective employer once in my 17+ years in the job market after an interview yet somehow I've managed to stay employed and get new jobs regularly. Unless you're at a cattle call most positions come down to 2-3 top interviewees. If you had a good interview, they won't forget who you are and you'll get the job. If you didn't, keep trying elsewhere. I've been on both sides of the table plenty of times and trust me you know who the good ones are - and in the business I'm in, they are rare so when one stands out you don't forget - and you forget the bad ones pretty fast.

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 15, 2012 @ 7:15 p.m.

I've never called back a prospective employer once in my 17+ years in the job market after an interview yet somehow I've managed to stay employed and get new jobs regularly.

Good for you. But your anecdotal experience is just that. You should ALWAYS ask the employer 1) when they are planning to hire someone, 2) if you could check back in with them, and 3) if you can check back in how do they want the contact and when. Nothing wrong with that, and it puts the applicant light years ahead of the average applicant whom I guarantee you never does anything close to that. Don't try to tell me that doe snot impress a potential employer.

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 15, 2012 @ 7:18 p.m.

FWIT, I have done many interviews where the employer had a peronnel person doing the interview that was dumber than a bag of rocks, and this goes triple for gov jobs.....

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