As both a skilled coach and one who helps to facilitate a "Professionals in Transition" group at my local library, I am around a large number of individuals in job search. Being in job search is indeed one of the most stressful times for an individual, particularly if they are currently unemployed and their family is dependent on them for income. Often there is that doubt of whether one is the right candidate for the particular job that they are seeking or absolutely for which they are interviewing. Concern creeps in over how one is being perceived and wonder is present as to what it is the hiring company is really seeking in terms of the applicable.
One of the ways to help alleviate some of that stress and concern is to remember that the job search process is a two way street. The hiring managers and human resource recruiters are not the only ones who should be asking questions. As a job seeker, you have just as much right to be asking questions and learning what it is you need to know to make your search as productive as possible.
Often I hear from individuals in search that they are related to ask questions of those they meet during the hiring process. They do not want to be perceived as a bother. They're worried if they ask too many questions that their resume 'will be cast aside. And, yes if they're questions do not have much meaning behind them, or if they're only centered on their status in the hiring process, questions such as that can be bothersome to someone making a decision for a next hire if that is all you want to know.
So, what are some good questions to ask, particularly of the hiring manager? Certainly questions centered on the hiring manager's greatest challenges are always excellent. They show a concern for the hiring manager's needs and in particular if you can demonstrate how you have the skill sets to help address such issues it will indeed make you a stronger candidate in their eyes. Questions centered on who the particular function that you are interviewing for support in the organization, the needs of those departments, and what they would look for of someone in the role for which you are interviewing are also excellent. It is also wise to consider asking the practices and qualifications that they are looking for in the person to come in and fill the role, (even beyond those listed on the job description). Additionally, questions as to how you compare against other candidates and where they are in the hiring process are also of benefit to ask.
The point in all this is you have the responsibility for clarifying as best you can where you stand with a particular company in the interviewing process. Will you necessarily have all the information you need to know? Likely you will not in most cases. However, it is better than sitting back and waiting and wondering just where you stand in terms of the hiring process. Also, questions centered on the hiring manager's issues and problems, begin to get you thinking how you might be able to address those issues. It puts you in a position to extremely follow-up with that company if you are really interested in working for them and provide them input on how you may consider addressing their problems and shows your true interest and concern for their needs. A proactive follow-up approach such as this may often be the deciding point between one candidate or another when a tough hiring decision needs to be made.
Yes being in job search takes a lot of energy on your part. However, there is always another party on the other side of the table. And, while that person may have something you want or need, they're looking to make the best possible decision for them're division, they're company and the other departments they support. The more you can learn of those needs and in turn share how you may be able to address those needs, will make your search process a true two way street as opposed to one where you sit back and hope and wonder.