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One of the most common mistakes candidates make during job interviews is NOT asking questions.

The most common candidate response when asked if they have any questions is, “No, not now.”

interview questionsIf not now, then when?

Candidates who do not ask questions during the interview process run the risk of raising a caution flag in the eyes of a recruiter or employer. No questions suggests the candidate may not have the management oomph necessary to be effective.  As the healthcare industry undergoes a fairly radical transformation there will be the inevitable consolidation and a contraction in the number of available preferred positions.  Every time a candidate makes a bad choice on the job that ends with an abbreviated tenure or a termination their career brand is tarnished, and sooner than later finding a top-tier job will be out of the question.  Candidates cannot afford to leave unanswered questions on the table, especially if the information they do not receive is instrumental to their success or failure.

Here are five important categories candidates should ask about:

  1. How financially stable is this organization?
  2. What is the corporate culture — what behaviors are valued, what behaviors are frowned upon and how are decisions made? How much freedom will I have to make decisions?
  3. Why did the person previously in  this position leave — an internal promotion or some other reason? How do you feel I differ from the last individual?
  4. What are the performance deliverables?  How will I be evaluated?
  5. Are there any strategic initiatives — mergers or planned consolidations — that might affect this position, its scope of responsibility or reporting relationships?

I have candidates say they did not ask questions because they wanted the job and did not want to offend the interviewer, or to be viewed as some self-absorbed, high maintenance employee. That is silly.

Of these five categories, one of the most important questions that often goes unasked is about the prospective employer’s culture.  Very few people are hired because they are NOT qualified so when things do not work out, the most commonly used phrase is, “It wasn’t a good fit…” meaning that the candidate did not fit in with the culture.

Follow up questions to the culture include why is the position vacant and how you are different from the person who previously held the job.

If the employer is offended by these perfectly appropriate questions, then that is a red flag for the candidate who should run, not walk away.

I invite you to share questions you frequently ask during interviews.  Send them to