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[BizCareers] Asking the right questions

This week we have a look at what you should be asking in an interview as well as addressing the age old debate of experience vs. qualification.
© michaeljung –
When interviewing, what key questions should the candidate be asking the employer? - Mia

Hi Mia,

Interviews are there for the candidate to sell themselves to the company and vice versa. Many people think that an interview is based around getting to know the candidate, however, the candidate needs to know what the organisation is about in order to make an informed decision about wanting to build a future there.

The candidate needs to prepare questions based on what is important to them in a particular position. This will show the interviewer that the candidate has taken interest in the role and organisation, which will count in the candidates favour, as well as clarify key points for the applicant - ending up in a win/win situation.

Vital questions would include responsibilities and key performance areas of the role; working hours; dress code; annual leave; salary, benefits and bonuses; and the reason for the vacancy. If you want to ask questions that are not mentioned above, make sure that you do so in a polite and professional manner in order to avoid coming across as arrogant and ill-mannered.

I hope that this answers your question effectively.

I am curious to find out, is it more important to have a tertiary qualification or experience, and why? - Katherine

Hi Katherine,

This question will need to be treated per individual circumstance, as each and every role has certain requirements that need to be met. A chemical engineer for example, will necessitate a completely different skill set than that of a receptionist.

Tertiary qualifications are more significant in more senior and niche positions as the candidate would evidently need certain knowledge in order to fulfil the role however; some non-specialist positions may require you to have studied further for the mere purpose of showing that you are able to commit to something, follow through and reach a goal. There are various different ways of up-skilling yourself which do not necessarily result in a qualification, yet there is still information gained.

"Experience is the best teacher," or so they say. Once more, this is dependent on the role as well as the company specifically. Sometimes having hands-on learning and being in front row seats will give you more knowledge and understanding than being taught in a classroom. It is by no means a case of quality versus quantity, but rather that they both have their diverse advantages.

Many people have different views on this topic, but at the end of the day the two go hand-in-hand. Either way, "knowledge is power" - you will just need to search for the position that suits your skillset best.

Best of luck with your job hunt.

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Please note:

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  • The answers provided to questions submitted by readers will be based on the content of questions themselves, current recruitment practices and current legislation in force at the time of writing, and are intended as advisory only and such advice is provided in good faith.
  • Readers' questions are submitted on the basis that neither Juliette Attwell, Recruit Group,, their management nor associates may be held liable in any manner whatsoever for any consequences that might result from the correspondence following the advice provided. Juliette Attwell, Recruit Group,, their management or associates shall under no circumstances be held liable for any error in responses provided in this column as to the references of the candidate, relating to his or her qualifications, skills, personality and experience; as to the compliance with the various legal and medical requirements relating to the performance, by the candidate, of his or her work, or any consequence whatsoever connected to the use of false/incomplete information.

About Juliette Attwell

Juliette Attwell is Head of Marketing & Operations at Recruitgroup. Recruitgroup has won Careerjunction Recruiter of the Year in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 as well as Fast Growth Business of the Year at the National Business Awards 2014. Juliette holds a Bcom Honours in Marketing Management and is the resident "agony aunt" on the BizCareers Column, she was also a finalist in the Top Young Executive at the National Business Awards 2014.