Hello, Manager Tools Forum,

I have been asked to come in for a job interview in a couple of weeks. The interviewer closed his email with, "Please do not hesistate to contact me if you have any questions about the position."

I have a lot of questions, of course, but I don't know what the boundaries are for what is appropriate to ask about. I know the basic taboos from other podcasts (hours, location, technology). My questions are more about scope - what percentage of the job involves "x" duties and what involves "y" duties.

Can anyone please advise or direct me to a relevant podcast?

Thank you in advance for your advice,

freakedout's picture

First of all: I would get as many info as possible from the web... the official opening, (check out there!!!), similar position and so on...

As you know: never ask about salary, benefits etc...

I would keep the questions for the interview.. if the questions are complicated to answer, it is possible that the recruiter won't be able to explain clearly by email.. in the interview you can directy interact with them and show yourself interested..

Check the Interviewing Series if you have the license.. 

ellerbee's picture

Absolutely. Research before you get to the interview stage is important. Thanks for taking the time to reply!

williamelledgepe's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

When I am hiring and a candidate asks about the position, duties, expectations, responsibilities, interactions with other staff, branches, departments, and other position related question my perception of the candidates goes up.  They are clearly using the intelligence to craft their interview prep.  Of course you should treat the informal exchange as an interview even though it is not the official interview. I find it works best over the phone or in person, but I am willing to spend that time with candidates because it helps me evaluate a bit more.  

If you ask, " What expectations do you have for the successful employee in this position" or "what does a successful employee do?" Rather than jumping straight to a statement about how you can do that, you should restate to make sure you got it - and make sure the hiring manager knows you understand what s/he says. You can follow that with a statement like, "I can share an experience during the interview that will demonstrate successes I have had doing XYZ" that is enough to peak my interest and listen with interest.  If I, as hiring manager, have time I might ask you to tell me about it, but even if I don't it is good to hear.  Before describing an experience n much more than a sentence or two, I would ask the hiring manager if they want to hear it now or in the interview.  The interview series has better phrasing for these kinds of Questions and enough examples to get you everything you could need. 

ellerbee's picture

Thanks for taking the time to answer. The first paragraph on duties is very helpful and I will keep in mind that a pre-interview is still an interview. I'm not sure I could successfully tackle the conversation you propose in the the second paragraph without significantly more prep but I like the tactic of asking the hiring manager if they want to hear it now or later.

wittensworld's picture

Hi, I've interviewed many people in my 20 years leadership experience and have never come across anyone that has asked questions up front like this. I'm sitting here wondering how I would react to this and I've concluded that it would depend on the questions being asked.

On the one hand, if a person is requesting more detailed information about the job and the expectations of performance outputs, I might consider that this person is looking to tailor their answers in advance which might make me feel a little apprehensive that they're not being entirely honest with me.

On the other hand, if the person is clarifying the scope of the role, size of responsibility etc.. then I'd feel okay as the person is rightfully trying to understand the size of the role and whether it's right for them.

If you're uncertain as to whether you want this job or not then it's probably best to ask the questions up front if it's the difference between having a worthwhile interview or not.

Good luck with whatever you decide to go with!

Simon @ WittensWorld

ellerbee's picture

This is the kind of perspective I was considering. Thanks for your honesty.

When I read the "if you have any questions" line I immediately wondered if it was a test. If I don't ask a question prior to the interview does it look like I don't care? If I do ask a question but it's the wrong question will I be sabotaging myself?

Any questions I would ask would be about clarification. Of the duties described in the ad I have prioritized some over others but I don't want to misdirect my key points toward a duty that the hiring manager considers less important.

Thanks for taking the time to answer!

pucciot's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I usually try to preemptively answer these questions as soon as I speak with a candidate.

So I don't think there is any harm with one (1) phone call asking a couple of questions.

* What are the general times/shifts that is expected ? - by general I mean -- Daytime / Nighttime / Weekday / Weekends / travel -- Don't ask for anything more specific than this.

* Location of the position - Is it at the local office, headquarters or at another location ?

* I've seen the listed job description could you please provide a little more detail of the duties ?

* Is there any management or supervision involved ?

* In my field one could ask if it is a "Professional" or "Para-professional" position ? ,and possibility, If it is an exempt or non-exempt position ? What academic degree is required ?

------ That's it - Don't ask about much else. -----

Just make it sound like the Job advertisement and listing wasn't very detailed and you are asking simple common sense questions.

Show energy and interest.

Thank them very much for their time and how much you are looking forward to meeting with them during the job interview.

Good Luck


acao162's picture

I have more patience with a pre-interview when the candidate is considered a relocation. There is no need to drive for hours for an interview to find out the position is not quite what they were thinking.

Otherwise, I like to hear from a candidate when the ad wasn't clear enough or there are some initial clarifying questions.