Why? Because employers each have their own hiring process — their’s no two the same. And, while some employers will tell you about their process, many will forget or just not keep you informed.
And getting the answers to these questions gives you an idea not only of how their process works, but also how urgently they want to fill the job. And, quite possibly, how interested they are in hiring you. Plus, knowing what comes next just might keep you a little more sane during a grueling job search.
Here are the five best questions to ask before you leave every interview:
1. What are Next Steps?
Depending on where you are in their typical hiring plan, the next step could be interviewing other candidates, another interview for you, checking your references, having you take a test (or tests), or, even, waiting for them to meet and discuss what happens next.
Every employer is different, but each usually has a process they follow (formally or informally) when making a hire. To successfully navigate through their process, you need to know the process, or at least know what the next step is. So before you leave their premises or end the phone call, ask this question!
What is the next step in your process? How can I help?
Chances are very good that the interviewer won’t think to tell you what happens next. They’ll assume that someone else has told you (or will tell you), or they don’t realize how important that information is to you.
2. When Will They Be Back in Touch?
Assuming that you will be invited to continue in their hiring process, ask:
When can I expect to hear from someone [or you] about this job?
Depending on where you are in their hiring process and the employer’s sense of urgency, you could hear from them “by the end of the week,” next week, next month, after the holidays, etc. All the people you ask may not agree on the timing, but you’ll end up with a general idea of their schedule.
Expect this answer to be inaccurate… employers have a habit of laying out best case scenario rather than what might really happen. But ask it anyway, because it gives you an idea of the expected time frame for the hiring process, and it lays the groundwork for the next questions.
3. Who Will be Your Primary Contact?
At the end of each stage of the job interview process (phone screen, in-person round one, in-person round two, etc.), ask this question:
Who should I stay in touch with?
Typically, one person will be designated as the “point person.” And, that’s the person you usually stay in touch with throughout the process. Ask for that person’s business card or email address.
But don’t forget: that internal contact who referred you for the job opportunity (the best way to get hired!) may still be your best source of information.
4. What is the Best Way to Stay in Touch?
This is essential information:
What is the best way to reach you (or, the name of the primary contact)?
Hopefully, they will provide some inside information. A direct phone number. That all-important email address. Best is both, so you can follow up when you don’t receive a response to your voice mail or email.
If you have the person’s business card, get it out, and circle the preferred communications method on the card, or add it to the back of the card.
5. When Should You Follow Up?
This is a very important question! The answer gives you permission to contact them if they miss their own deadline — and they usually do miss their deadline.
If I don’t hear from you by [date from Q2 above], when should I call you to follow up?
Always add a day or two to their own back-in-touch date in your question. In other words: if they said, they’ll contact you next Tuesday, don’t call Tuesday morning! Be patient. Show some emotional intelligence. And put the follow-up call on your Thursday task list.
What happens if the employer doesn’t answer any of these questions?
No Answers to the Housekeeping Questions?
They are either they are disorganized, not very well-managed, or not great at providing a good candidate experience. Or, it could be that they aren’t particularly interested in hiring you. Any of those reasons should make you wonder if you really want to work in that organization.
Ask the questions. Gain an understanding about the job, the organization, and the people you would be working with. Show your professionalism by following up in a timely manner. And you’ll be sure to impress the employer… while staying a little more in control of your own destiny.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe!
About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.