Prepare Good Questions

Questions can be an excellent information-gathering tool. But recruiters warn us that questions come in two flavors: good and bad. “It hate it when people ask me questions that could easily be looked up,” says a recruiter. “I prefer questions like ‘What is your culture really like?’ ‘Who is your main competition?’” Ask anything that is current or topical which you will know if you have done your research.
If you have to stand in line waiting your turn, pick up the company literature and absorb it while you wait. Listen in on employers’ presentations.

What if you don’t know anything about the company? Approach it as a learning opportunity. If you come upon a company you’ve never heard of, but strikes you as intriguing, ask them what their needs are. Listen closely. See if your skills could help them fill those needs.

Scan these questions and choose three to five you’ll use…

  • What types of career opportunities does your organization offer?

  • What are the job responsibilities for that type of position?

  • Could I set up a time to visit you at your workplace to do a more formal informational interview?

  • Do you have co-op, internship or summer job opportunities for someone in my major?

  • Do you know of other contacts that might be helpful to me?

  • May I contact you if I need more information?

  • Can you start someone part-time until school is out for the summer?

  • How can a job applicant convince you to call them for an interview?

  • If you have interviewed someone for a job, do you mind if they call to find out the status of your hiring process?

  • If you do not have an available opening that fits my background now, but I would like to work for your company, how often could I call without becoming a pest? Who would be the best person to contact?

  • What skills do you find most marketable in your industry today?

  • What are some challenges your industry (or company) faces?

  • What might the person in this position like most? Least?

  • What is the culture like?

  • Is it a team-oriented place?

  • Are there certain majors you prefer to hire?

  • What are the positions and career paths available for my major or degree level?

  • How would you describe the personality of your organization?

  • What characteristics does your organization look for when hiring potential employees?

  • Who are the contact persons in your organization for the positions appropriate for my major?

  • What are the application procedures for internship, summer, part-time, or full-time positions?

  • What kind of entry-level positions exist within your company?

  • Does your company hire on a continual basis or just certain times of the year?

  • How long does the hiring process take?

  • What does your company consider the five most important qualities in an employee?

  • Is there a G.P.A. cut-off in the recruiting process?

  • What personality traits are more important for success in your company?

  • As an entry-level employee, what can I expect to be doing 2, 5, 10 years from now?

  • What do you like best about working for _____?

  • How long have you been with the company?

  • What are some company accomplishments of which you are especially proud?

  • For how many years does an entry-level employee typically stay with the company?

  • What is the retention rate in the company?

  • Do you expect your employees to relocate?

  • What is the possibility of visiting your facility?

  • It is smart to ask the recruiters what role the career fair plays for the company in the interview process. If the company does not use the fair as a first round interview, ask the best way to go about obtaining one.

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