• Pro Tip: avoid sounding like a geezer when complaining to me about my age discrimination article

    My article today “Youth is the symptom, not the cause, of age discrimination” elicited a big response from our audience. One e-mailer demonstrated the wrong tack to take:

    Subject: Age is a Mindset Article

    How is an article like this supposed to help already stressed out older workers? And you are stating that 52 is old in the minds of recruiters? I am 66 years old, was a School Psychologist, and am looking for work. I am very sickened by these types of attitudes and articles; and by the way, there is something you can do about it. Older workers generally get along better with their co-workers because they do not spend so much time tweeting rather than real relationship building with other real people. Who in the world would want to work for a company that doesnt respect face to face and phone communication skills, writing and research ability without having to resort to “spellcheck”, etc.

    Sincerely,
    Nancy

    I responded:

    “Hi Nancy -

    The article is designed to help stressed-out older workers by giving them relatively easy steps to overcome mindset discrimination. Writing angry emails to the author is emblematic of the “not invented here” attitude that younger hiring mangers fear in an older worker.

    I would’ve recommended that you start with a proper intro such as “Dear Marc”, provided one or two nice thoughts about what you liked about the article, or at least acknowledged that the author was trying to be a positive force for change, before introducing your criticisms. I would’ve also avoided the run-on sentences and would’ve properly punctuated your final question.

    Presenting yourself as a “criticize first” personality in today’s marketplace will not help you land your next great gig.

    Hope that feedback helps — good luck with your search.

    Best / Marc”

    Folks, there are enough things going against you when you’re over 52 in the US labor market. You need to realize that this approach of talking down your nose to others isn’t helping you get where you want to go, and could accidentally allow others to misperceive you as a ‘geezer’. And you need to avoid that if you want to land your next great role.

  • Youth is the symptom, not the cause, of age discrimination

    One of the things I was most surprised by when I got into the jobs business over a decade ago was the prevalence and practice of age discrimination in hiring right here in the USA.

    Oh, sure… we’re not like some overseas markets where job ads explicitly demand youth, or a particular gender, or beauty(!), in the applicant, but there it is…

    The blank look on your interviewer’s face when you talk about growing up in the 60s or 70s. The skepticism with which your Twit-facebook-gram skills are regarded. The cultural references that pass silently like two Teslas in the night…

    Well, at least the younger generation seems to get your reference to "Gunga-galunga” and giggle.

    Most of the time.

    All of it adds up to a pernicious undercutting of your ability to get hired and get ahead. We just have to admit the ugly truth that age discrimination exists — there’s no doubt about it.

    And there’s no silver bullet for those facing it. If you’re in the job market and over the age of 52, you will almost certainly face stereotypes and negative attitudes regarding your desirability because of your age. And in some cities, in some markets, that negative environment impacts candidates as young as 40 years of age.

    While there’s nothing you can do to stop it, I have, over the years, observed which candidates and applicants have succeeded despite their age and which have failed because of it.

    If I had to summarize, I’d say it appears to me that age discrimination is mindset discrimination first and foremost. And you’ll need to review how you are presenting your mindset — your attitude — to your future employer.

    Every hiring manager is asking herself, every HR person is asking himself, these questions about you and every other candidate they’re interviewing…

    Will this candidate:

    - Be able to excel in this role?
    - Be able to learn and adjust as the role evolves?
    - Be able to master the tools and technologies involved today and tomorrow?
    - Get along well with others on the team?
    - Take direction and feedback?

    And it’s important for you to realize that youth is the symptom, not the cause, of age discrimination.

    What I mean by that is that hiring managers are hiring for open-mindedness, flexibility, and a sociability with others. On average, there’s a perception on the part of hiring managers, whether right or wrong, that those attributes are more frequently found in the young, as opposed to the experienced.

    And it’s worthwhile to review why these attributes have so much value in the business world today.

    As the world changes, businesses change even more rapidly. Companies sometimes need to jump on new trends before they pan out, or hedge their bets, or make sure they’re well-prepared for most contingencies. And that means there’s always plenty of "new" to keep up with.

    So a workforce that is flexible, open-minded and interested in learning is far better than a workforce that is determined to keep doing it the old way.

    "The old way works fine” might be OK for you around the home, but in business, it has proven to be an enormous destroyer of value. Take a look at the hard times that old famous companies have fallen upon. Heck, even some of the newer tech companies that were darlings within the last decade have had difficulties mastering new environments.

    So expecting your future employer to be pleased with an "old ways are tried and true” mindset won’t serve you well in your job search.

    So it is not necessarily youth itself that companies are hiring for, rather, it is those attributes that have proven effective in today’s business environment.

    The cause of age discrimination is the perception around older professionals’ adaptability, curiosity, and team spirit; youth is merely a symptom.

    Since you can’t change your age, your goal is to address the underlying root causes of age discrimination — your goal is not to appear or act age-inappropriate — it is to present yourself, effectively, as a constructive, resourceful, "coachable”, team player.

    When confronting misperceptions in your job search, it is always better to "show” than to "tell”:

    - Describe situations in which you adapted new technologies to the problem at hand. It is helpful if these examples aren’t from the seventies, but rather represent transitions that your interviewer herself went through.
    - Recount how you were able to help younger (and older) staffers get to a solution that was stumping all. Detail the challenges you faced and what tactics you used to overcome them.
    - Relate your experiences with receiving and using feedback constructively. Discuss how you used the situation to update your behavior and outlook. Share the process you went through to find where you could perform better and the steps you took to achieve an improvement. Ideally, quantify that improvement.
    - Illustrate with specific stories your interest in, and passion for, the work that you do. Why does it drive you? What excites you about your work? Your younger competition does this out of habit — because they can’t talk about decades of success in the business — so you need to make sure you put yourself on a fair footing.

    As you can see, the important thing is that rather than telling the hiring manager that you’re open-minded, curious, flexible, adaptable to new circumstances, and sociable enough for the role, show him that you are.

    And a final word to remake the point about youth being a symptom and not a cause of age discrimination.

    On occasion, one finds older candidates that mistake having an open mindset with mimicking a twenty-year-old’s mindset.

    There is a difference.

    Arriving at a job interview replete with the names of the latest bands, dropping age-inappropriate lingo into your answers, and wearing clothes that reveal too much about your desperation by trying too hard, all have the opposite effect of what you’d hope for.

    Interactions like these reconfirm your interviewer’s fears that you’ll be obtuse, unsavvy, and a management challenge on the job.

    No, your best tactics are to communicate, verbally and nonverbally, that you are adept at keeping up with the times, and, even more importantly, interested in doing so. And the best way for you to do that is to show them precisely those behaviors and traits for which they are interviewing.

    Good luck in the job search this week, Readers!

    I’m rooting for you. Gunga-galunga.

    P.S. You can find more resources on my colleague @JobSearchAmanda‘s blog here.

  • Recruiters are jerks… aren’t they?

    It’s no secret that the job-seeker’s relationship with recruiters and HR people can be fraught with fear, confusion, irritation and anger. It doesn’t take long in this business, or in your job search, to hear those feelings surface among people looking for, or open to, new employment.

    So let me explain why recruiters aren’t jerks, and how understanding their behavior, incentives, and needs, can help you get hired faster.

    First, some truths:

    - Recruiters and HR people work for the hiring manager, not you.
    - Their career choice is HR / recruiting, not the other field in which you’re currently employed.
    - Their job is to get a position filled, not to get you a job.
    - They have dozens of open positions, with demanding clients, and too many applicants.
    - They’ve discovered from long experience that professionals, like you, sometimes don’t know what they want.

    So you will inevitably find that HR people and recruiters:

    - Don’t have the same sense of urgency about your fate as you do.
    - Don’t prioritize your needs over the needs of their client.
    - Might not have the technical / business / experiential grasp of your field that you do.
    - Fail to take into account nuances of what you believe you’d like to do next.
    - Don’t respond as often, accurately, or forthcomingly, as you’d like.

    So, of course, you might feel entirely justified in writing off the whole bunch of them in your most irritable moments.

    But that’s not actually going to help you get hired.

    And, truth be told, the hiring managers that desperately need you for their job, don’t have the time and attention to manage the entire process, which is why they introduced an HR professional or recruiter into the equation in the first place.

    So rather than treat recruiters and HR people as miserable service providers, might I suggest a different approach?

    Treat them as customers.

    After all, you’re selling the most important thing you’re going to sell this year — your labor — probably three, four, or more, years’ worth.

    That’s multiple hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars.

    So instead of grumbling about how poorly they’re doing at the task of purchasing your labor, perhaps you could help your customer out?:

    When they don’t understand your industry or specialty

    Explain to them, non-condescendingly and without irritation, how your specialty works, and where their perception misses the mark.

    When they call or e-mail with a job much different than what you do

    Politely explain why it’s not a fit, or, much, much better, connect them with someone who does fit the requirements of the position they’re looking for today. Making a customer happy by sending them to the right shop is a great way to build their trust in you for the future.

    When they do get you an interview with the “buyer”

    Don’t take it for granted and feel like you can abuse them once you’ve met the “Big Cheese”. Keep them informed, keep them in the loop, and keep being honest with them. In addition to your getting a job offer, it’s their reputation as a “buyer” that’s on the line when you go in for an interview, and they’ll be just as anxious as you are. It’s only fair that you keep them apprised of your progress.

    When they’re unprepared, lazy, or obtuse

    Realize that when you’ve bought a car, an appliance, insurance, or some big-ticket item in the past, that you, too, were once unprepared. Being a professional, at your high level, means that not every day and every encounter is going to go perfectly. Remain professional, courteous, and keep focusing on your ultimate goal — to make a sale and get a job. Blowing up at your customer isn’t going to help.

    When you don’t hear back from them at all

    There are so many reasons that a “buyer” will stop calling you — ranging from bureaucratic roadblocks on their side to simple forgetfulness. Desperate, angry follow-up never helps. The most effective tack to take is to call once a week for three or four weeks. If you haven’t heard back by then, you likely won’t at all.

    Look, I understand that treating recruiters and HR people as your customers will have all the usual frustrations of customer service, and is especially nerve-wracking at a time and life situation in which you really need to get out of your current position and into a new one.

    But no matter how badly you want it, burning the people who are there to facilitate your getting hired is short-sighted and ineffective.

    To make the most out of your job search, you’ll need to treat the recruitment professionals with whom you come into contact, as buyers of a very important, and very expensive, product: You.

    And that’s the best way to get past your initial impression of HR people and recruiters when you begin your job search…

    Now, inevitably, a few dozen of you will write in to share the “Tale of the Big One That You Landed All By Yourself” — that time you got the job by ignoring the HR person or recruiter and going directly to the source… the hiring manager.

    Congratulations on that.

    But how would you feel about a salesperson in your company who said they didn’t need to do any pro-active selling because the last big deal fell right into their lap when the buyer sat next to them on the flight home from San Diego?

    Lucky happenstance is not a plan for success.

    Work with the system, and not against it, to maximize your outcome.

    Have a great week in the job search, Readers!

  • It felt so awkward, until I tried this one tip

    Even if you’re a sociable, gregarious, people-loving person, the “networking” phone call can be a dreaded task in the job search. You feel like you’re imposing, and it feels awkward to ring up your friends, former colleagues, and college buddies to ask for a favor from such a helpless position.

    So here’s how to stop worrying and learn to love the networking call.

    The tip, which I picked up from my friend John Lucht, is this:

    “Don’t ask for a job, ask for a reference.”

    Asking someone to be a reference makes networking a positive experience for both of you.

    You see, everybody hates to say “no” to a request from somebody they know. When you call your contacts and ask if they know of any jobs out there, you’re putting them in the position where they have to say “no” to you.

    After all, they’re busy with their own lives and aren’t paying a lot of attention to job openings right now.

    So asking for job information or job leads makes networking uncomfortable for both of you.

    To make it easy for them to say “yes”, you need to ask them something that is easy to say “yes” to…

    When you call your old colleague or contact, ask them if — when the time is right in your job search — it would be possible to use them as a reference.

    This approach has three positives in its favor: it doesn’t cost them anything to say “yes” to that request, it’s an easy way for them to feel like they are being helpful, and it makes the call much more comfortable for both of you.

    And now that you’ve turned the networking call from a negative conversation to a positive one, both you and your contact will feel better about the interaction.

    That’s important, because positive interactions make your contacts more inclined to help you. They may even feel a little bit honored that you think highly enough of their opinion to ask them to be a reference.

    So now, as they go about their business, they’ll not be screening your calls to avoid further awkward interactions, but instead they’ll be a little bit more inclined to keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities that might make sense for you.

    If they overhear something at the club, if their cousin mentions a corporate expansion, if there’s some trade rag gossip on positions opening up, they’re much more likely to want to reach out to let you know that there might be an opportunity for you.

    So my best advice, handed down to me from an expert with forty years of recruiting experience, is this: don’t ask for a job, ask for a reference.

    And you may never dread a networking call again.

    Have a great week in the search.

    I’ll be rooting for you!

    Download our tremendous new iOS app with 4 1/2 star ratings here.

  • Three ways you’re sabotaging yourself

    While you’re reviewing the thousands of job openings and employers on TheLadders this week, here are three ways you just might be sabotaging your own job search (without realizing it!)

    1. Email address

    What email address do you use professionally?

    If you’re using AOL, or your local cable provider, you could be inadvertently shooting yourself in the foot.

    Only 5% of new users at TheLadders sign up with AOL email addresses these days. If you’re still using AOL to represent yourself professionally, it could be sending a signal that you’re uncomfortable with new technology and that you haven’t prioritized keeping your skills up-to-date.

    Using your local cable provider’s default email — whether it’s bellsouth.net, optonline.net, or tampabay.rr.com — increases the chances of a typo leading to a missed connection. Because people don’t pay as much attention, or care, to what they’re typing after the ‘@’ sign, using less-familiar domains in your email should be avoided.

    More than 45% of new users at TheLadders use gmail.com. Because gmail is well-known for its utility, ease-of-use, and power, using gmail as your address is a smart move that also sends the message that you’re up-to-date with the times.

    What’s before the ‘@’ sign is important too.

    Common ‘household’ or ‘joint’ email strategies such as ‘jimandnancy@’, ‘smithhousehold@’, or ‘huxtablefamily@’ are not good email addresses to use for your professional job search. Professionals are accustomed to writing directly to other professionals. Requesting that they email your spouse & kids when contacting you is awkward.

    The best email address is your first name, followed by a dot, followed by your last name, at gmail.com:

    cliff.huxtable@gmail.com

    If that’s taken, then for the purposes of your jobsearch, add next year’s number to your address:

    cliff.huxtable.2014@gmail.com

    You’re probably going to be using this email address into the New Year anyway and starting now makes you seem ahead of the times. And everybody wants to hire somebody from the future, right?

    2. Can a stranger read your resume?

    Print out your resume. Take the top third and rip it off. Hand it to somebody you don’t know.

    Can they tell you, without asking you any additional questions, what you want to do next?

    For too many of my subscribers, the answer is no. The reason is that you’re trying to do the wrong thing with the top third of your resume. You’re trying to tell people about your character and your abilities and your many, many different skills and your flexibility and too many things!

    You know what the person who is reading your resume is trying to find out?

    “Does this gal, or guy, want this job that I have to fill?”

    Obviously, given that you’ve spent the time to create a resume and send it to them, they know you want a job. But do you want this particular job?

    Is it something that you’ve done before? If so, did you like it? If so, do you want to do it again?

    Because you spend all of your time with yourself, it seems so very obvious that you want the type of job that you’re looking for.

    But strangers don’t know that. And, chances are, you’ll most likely be hired by a stranger.

    So it’s important that you make it easy for people who don’t know you.

    Show them, at the very top of your resume, what job you want, and why you’re qualified for it. You’re not naming every skill and experience, but you’re giving the reader a sense of what you can do.

    If they can’t tell, by reading the top-third of your resume, what you want to do next, then you’re never going to get to the next step.

    3. Did you talk to a live person today?

    The internet delivers you news, information, funny cat videos, electronic books, fashionable shopping, and, via TheLadders.com, the latest and greatest job listings at the professional level.

    So… “hooray!” for the internet.

    But here’s the truth — the internet is not going to hire you.

    No, you’ll be hired by a living, breathing, thinking, smiling person.

    So the question is: did you talk to that person today? Did you try to?

    It’s important, while you’re searching, looking, peeking and applying to all those great jobs you find at TheLadders, that you also realize that you need to make talking to people, live, in person or on the phone, a priority.

    Have you called your old contacts? Returned the call from the company that perhaps you’re only mildly interested in? Have you taken a former colleague to lunch? Did you call back the recruiters you’ve met over the past six months? Drop by a conference?

    Connecting with people, live, in person or on the phone, is essential to getting hired. Too often, we fool ourselves into believing that self-directed activity is the best way to get hired. It’s not. Connecting with others is.

    If you’re more of an introvert, more comfortable communicating by writing than by speaking, you can still connect with others. I’m not going to mislead you and say that it’s better, but it’s still sufficient if you write thoughtful, sensible blog posts, comments, emails and contributions on industry-related topics and threads. But it’s important that you’re connecting with others, not just yourself.

    When it comes to getting hired, you need to ensure that every day is a “talk to a person who could potentially hire me” day.

    Because eventually… they will.

    So those are the three things you might be doing to sabotage your own efforts in the job search, Readers. Avoid them and prosper.

    P.S. The fourth thing you’re doing to sabotage yourself? ‘Seasoned’. If you’re using the word ‘seasoned’ to describe yourself… don’t.

  • See which jobs your competition is applying to, with our new app.

    Two weeks ago I told you about our new app that you can download in the App Store here. As I mentioned, you can see who else is applying to each job, get automatically updated listings based on your expertise and background, and show your interest with just one touch.

    Well, the response has been terrific, so I thought I’d share a few more insights about our new app…

    See what your competition is doing – Not only do we show you the (anonymous) profiles of the people applying to jobs, but we also can show you the other specific jobs they’ve applied to. That helps you discover new opportunities.


    Time is of the essence — Our research reveals that 72 hours after an employer publishes a new opening, the likelihood of a job seeker’s profile being considered for the job plummets by 50 percent. Therefore, professionals like you need to learn about new jobs all the time, not just when you’re sitting in front of a desktop computer. Use the 1-click “thumbs-up” feature on our app to get your name in front of the employer fast.


    We do the hard work –we’ve eliminated the need for keyword searches. Tell us your background and expertise, and we show you all the relevant jobs automatically. It’s that much easier.

    Our free app streamlines the matching process between professionals and employers from days to just a few hours. Download it today and get thumbing your way to a new gig.

    Have a great week in the job search!

  • Freedom from Frenemies Day

    A patriotic week starts with the words of this great American:


    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


    That was Teddy Roosevelt speaking at the Sorbonne over a hundred years ago in 1910. I run these words every 4th of July week because they ring true every year, and I rediscover something new in them annually.

    “It is not the critic who counts” — TR might well have been talking about your “frenemies” — those people who think they are doing you, or the greater world, a service by criticizing, complaining, cutting down your efforts with their words of alleged helpfulness.

    The office scold, the “negative Ned” or the lazy loudmouth — those people whose lack of ambition, talent or kindness lead them to the place where they invest their time in tearing you down rather than building themselves, and those around them, up.

    TR’s striking words remind you that all their words are weightless, worthless — meaningless, really, in the scale of the world or the scope of your lifetime.

    Other people have their other motives for doing what they do. You’ll not figure them out if you spend a lifetime studying their insecurities, insufficiencies or incompetence.

    So the best to do is to ignore them.

    And focus on what you would like to achieve. This Independence Day and every day…

    It is not the critic who counts.

    I’ll be rooting for you every step of the way.

  • TheLadders iPhone App: Your newest advantage in the job search.

    You can download our terrific, new, free, app for Apple iOS devices here:

    There are a lot of great features the team has built to make your job search easier:

    See who your competition is for each job — the app includes Scout, our proprietary competitive-analysis tool. We show you the (anonymous) details of each applicant for each job. That lets you see how you stack up, and gives you a better idea of your chances against the field.

    Only one touch to show you’re interested — If you’re interested in the position, just tap “thumbs-up” and we’ll save the job for you, and put the recruiter on notice that you’re interested.

    Automatically updates job listings – We automatically refresh the job listings every time the mobile app is opened. Result? You get to see the newest listings every time.

    So download our free app today, and start thumbing your way to a great new role in life…

    Have a great week in the job search!

    I’m rooting for you.

  • Would you mind replying to this employer about a job?

    One of our subscribers’ favorite features at TheLadders is Hiring Alerts.

    Whenever a recruiter posts a job with us, we review your profile in our database to see if there’s potentially a fit. If there is, we add you to a select list of professionals that receive the job via an e-mail hiring alert like the one above.

    How select?

    Well, on average, about 700 of you receive each hiring alert, which results in 6 to 8 applications for each job.

    We’ll send the job to fewer or more professionals depending on what the computer tells us, but the goal is to get about 6 to 8 of you who might not have seen the job, and might potentially be the right fit, to apply. That’s our target based on our conversations with recruiters about what makes the most sense for them.

    Win-win.

    So when you see something like this…

    …in your e-mail, you’ll know that it’s a job hot off the presses, and that, if you decide to apply, the magic of modern computer science can let you feel comfortable that you’re one of just about a half-dozen professionals who feel equally excited about it.

    The match, by the way, is based on the information you’ve given us, so the great thing is, the more info you give us, the better we can target you with jobs. Update your profile here to let us understand you better.

    Have an easy week on the job search, Readers!

    I’m rooting for you.

  • It’s not about me, it’s about you… the 20 questions you need to ask in a job interview

    It’s time for my twice-a-year update of the best questions for you to ask in an interview.

    I’ve put this list together because so often we can forget what an interview’s all about. It sure feels like it’s about you, but it’s really not.

    An interview is actually about how you can help your future boss and future employer succeed. It’s about finding out what their requirements and hopes are and matching up your background and experience with what they need.

    Overlooking these basic facts about the interview is easy. There’s so much else going on in your work, your life, and in your job search, that you can forget to look at the interview from the interviewer’s point of view. And that’s a shame, because you need the interviewer to walk away from the interview thoroughly impressed.

    When I ran these questions previously, commenter “spiderji” wrote in and said:

    Marc, I used some of your questions in a job interview today. When I asked how to get a “gold star” on the evaluation, the interviewers faces lit up!” I contrast today’s interview with others I’ve been on where I didn’t have any meaningful questions at the end. This one was electric! I won’t know the results for a couple of days, but if they hire me I’ll owe you a drink! Thank you!

    And reader LBRZ shared:

    I have to thank you! I had an interview yesterday and it went great. When I asked about his leadership style and reward system his face lit up like a christmas tree.

    After he answered the question “how can I help you receive your next promotion?”, he began to give me advice on how I should negotiate for a higher starting salary.

    And that’s exactly the point, Readers. By asking these questions, which focus on the needs, traits, and preferences of your future boss and future employer, you’re demonstrating that you are somebody who is genuinely interested in their well-being. And the more interest we show in others, the more commitment they show to aiding our cause.

    With that in mind, here’s the twice-a-year update to my collection of “twenty best interview questions” below. My aim here is to arm you with easy-to-ask, revealing-to-answer questions for you to take with you to an interview:

    1. What’s the biggest change your group has gone through in the last year? Does your group feel like the tough times are over and things are getting better, or are things still pretty bleak? What’s the plan to handle to either scenario?

    2. If I get the job, how do I earn a “gold star” on my performance review? What are the key accomplishments you’d like to see in this role over the next year?

    3. What’s your (or my future boss’) leadership style?

    4. About which competitor are you most worried?

    5. How does sales / operations / technology / marketing / finance work around here? (I.e., groups other than the one you’re interviewing for.)

    6. What type of people are successful here? What type of people are not?

    7. What’s one thing that’s key to this company’s success that somebody from outside the company wouldn’t know about?

    8. How did you get your start in this industry? Why do you stay?

    9. What are your group’s best and worst working relationships with other groups in the company?

    10. What keeps you up at night? What’s your biggest worry these days?

    11. What’s the timeline for making a decision on this position? When should I get back in touch with you?

    12. These are tough economic times, and every position is precious when it comes to the budget. Why did you decide to hire somebody for this position instead of the many other roles / jobs you could have hired for? What about this position made you prioritize it over others?

    13. What is your reward system? Is it a star system / team-oriented / equity-based / bonus-based / “attaboy!”-based? Why is that your reward system? What do you guys hope to get out of it, and what actually happens when you put it into practice? What are the positives and the negatives of your reward system? If you could change any one thing, what would it be?

    14. What information is shared with the employees (revenues, costs, operating metrics)? Is this an “open book” shop, or do you play it closer to the vest? How is information shared? How do I get access to the information I need to be successful in this job?

    15. If we are going to have a very successful year in 2014, what will that look like? What will we have done over the next 6 months to make it successful? How does this position help achieve those goals?

    16. How does the company / my future boss do performance reviews? How do I make the most of the performance review process to ensure that I’m doing the best I can for the company?

    17. What is the rhythm to the work around here? Is there a time of year that it’s “all hands on deck” and we’re pulling all-nighters, or is it pretty consistent throughout the year? How about during the week / month? Is it pretty evenly spread throughout the week / month, or are there crunch days?

    18. What type of industry / functional / skills-based experience and background are you looking for in the person who will fill this position? What would the “perfect” candidate look like? How do you assess my experience in comparison? What gaps do you see? What is your (or my future boss’) hiring philosophy? Is it “hire the attitude / teach the skills” or are you primarily looking to add people with domain expertise first and foremost?

    19. In my career, I’ve primarily enjoyed working with big / small / growing / independent / private / public / family-run companies. If that’s the case, how successful will I be at your firm?

    20. Who are the heroes at your company? What characteristics do the people who are most celebrated have in common with each other? Conversely, what are the characteristics that are common to the promising people you hired, but who then flamed out and failed or left? As I’m considering whether or not I’d be successful here, how should I think about the experiences of the heroes and of the flame-outs?

    I hope you find these questions useful in your interviews, Readers!

    A final note. Previously, another commenter, “Lenore”, asked:

    Hi Marc. Awesome questions!

    My question for you is…..how do you ask questions when you are meeting with more than one interviewer. I met with 3 to 4 interviewers, one at a time. I didn’t want to come off generic by asking each of them the same questions. I guess you can go by their role to determine what questions you are going to ask. Sometimes they are all top executives. I’m guessing there are enough questions to divide amongst them all. I had asked so many questions in an interview once, that I didn’t want to seem redundant. Do you think this is ok?

    To which I replied:

    Great question Lenore.

    Three options:

    1) Change the wording a little bit each time so you’re not asking the same question in the same way.

    2) Mention that “You know, I already asked your colleague about this, and I’d love to hear your thoughts…”

    3) Divide the list and ask different people different questions, as you suggested.

    Hope that helps!

    M

    OK, Readers, have a great week in the job search!

    I’m rooting for you!