Superstars -- the most highly sought-after job candidates -- can afford to bepicky. Even in today's economy, the competition for the most talented contributorsis brisk. For that reason, superstars can get away with asking prospective employerssome very tough questions. If recruiters want these superstars, they had betterbe prepared.
"Candidates need an accurate job preview and itsometimes takes hard questions to get it," says Dr. John Sullivan, professorand head of human resources management at San Francisco State University. "Thehiring manager's ability and willingness to answer these tough questions shouldbe a major factor in any candidate's decision to accept an offer."
The following are 15 of the toughest interview questionsthat recruiters must be prepared for:
What's the gross profit margin ofthe division I will be working in? What percentage of the total profit fromthe company does it generate? Is it increasing or decreasing?
What's your company's "killerapplication"? What percentage of the market share does it have? WillI be working on it?
Can you give me some examples ofthe best and worst aspects of the company's culture?
What makes this company a great placeto work? What outside evidence (rankings or awards) do you have to provethis is a great place to work? What is the company going to do in the nextyear to make it better?
What would I see if I stood outsidethe front door at 5 o'clock? Would everyone be smiling? Staying late orleaving early? Would they be taking work home?
Lots of your competitors have greatproducts and people programs. What is the deciding factor that makes thisopportunity superior? Are you willing to make me some specific "promises"on what you will do to make this a great experience for me, if I accepta position?
Can you show me that the companyhas a diverse workforce and that it is tolerant of individual differences?Does it have affinity groups or similar programs that I might find beneficial?Is there a dress code? Can you give me an example of any "outrageousconduct" this firm tolerates that the competitors would not?
Does your company offer any "wow!"benefits? Pay for advanced degrees? Paid sabbaticals? On-site childcare?Relocation packages? Mentor program? How are these superior to your competitors?Job sharing? Flex-time arrangements? Telecommuting? Workout facilities?
When top performers leave the company,why do they leave and where do they usually go?
When was the last significant layoff?What criteria were used to select those to stay? What packages were offeredto those that were let go?
Does the company have a program tosignificantly reward individuals that develop patents/ great products? Isthere a program to help individuals "start" their own firms orsubsidiary? Will I be required to fill out non-compete agreements?
How many approvals would it take(and how long) to get a new $110,000 project idea of mine approved? Whatpercentage of employee-initiated projects in this job were approved lastyear?
How many days will it take for you(and the company) to make a hiring decision for this position?
Who are the "coolest" peopleon my team? What makes him or her "cool? Can I meet them? Who is thebest and worst performer on the team and what was the difference in theirtotal compensation last year? Sell me on this team and who I get to workwith. What makes my closest co-workers fun/great people to work with?
What is your "learning plan"for me for my first six months? What competencies do you propose I willdevelop that I don't currently have? Which individual in the departmentcan I learn the most from? What can he or she teach me? Can I meet them?Does the company have a specific program to advance my career?