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I understand we are here to discuss an offer, correct?

Make sure you have a clear understanding that you are meeting to discuss an offer. I have had a number of situations over the years where the candidate as well as I thought that the final offer was being made at this meeting and it wasn't. So, simply ask if you are unsure. Most of the time, you will be correct. But this will clear up any doubt. As the hiring authority begins the meeting to make an offer, he or she will probably say, "Before we get to the nitty-gritty, do you have any questions?" Your answer is, "Yes." And, during this meeting, just as with the others, take notes! You may have to review them before you make a decision about the job.

What are your professional and personal expectations of me?

If you don't already know, you certainly want to—and need to at this point. Don't be surprised if you hear some aspects of the job that you don't recall hearing before. Often, in the interviewing process, assumptions are made by both parties. Because you have been focused on selling yourself pretty hard, you now want to be sure you totally understand the expectations.

Please describe the working environment.

The interviewing process probably gave you a really good feel for this, but you want to hear it. Pay special attention to the metaphors and analogies you will hear.

What is your management style?

Listen to the metaphors again. Remember, on average, you have probably only spent one or two hours with this person in a rather contrived atmosphere. You want to listen to see that what you hear is consistent with what you saw or experienced.

I should mention here one of the hundreds of lessons I've learned about employment since I started in this business in 1973. I'd never recommend taking a job strictly because you like the boss and you want to work for him or her. Often, candidates are so impressed with the hiring authority that they confuse liking the person with liking the job and want to take a job because of whom they would be working for.

Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't consider whom you are going to work for in the process of evaluating a job. Whom you work for is crucial to your success. But, with the transient business environment today, your boss could be here today and gone tomorrow. (By the way, it's the same with you.) Just don't take a job exclusively because of the hiring authority.

Make your possible future boss a part of the decision. Go to work for someone you can hopefully learn from. But ask yourself, "Would this be a good job if this person weren't here?" It may change how you feel about the job, but in this day and age, you can't assume anyone is going to be anywhere for any length of time.

What is the management style of your boss and the company?

If you hear, "Well, my boss is totally different than me. He's a real piece of work," or, "This company is pretty tyrannical, but we operate differently in this group," you'll get one impression. If you hear, "It's pretty consistent with my style here," you will get another impression. You just need to know.

What are your personal plans with the company?

By throwing in some personal questions now and then, you create a conversational environment, rather than an interview environment. "We are all in this together" becomes more real when you ask about personal futures.

How would you describe the philosophy of the company as well as your personal philosophy?

You may have already gotten a picture of both of these in the interviewing process, but it doesn't hurt to ask again to see if you get consistency. Some people and companies say one thing and act differently (duh!). So, just listen. You don't have to agree with everyone's philosophy, but you do have to feel compatible with it. If the hiring authority says something like, "Well, the company is committed to the good of mankind, but I'm here for the money," it doesn't mean he or she is a bad person or it is a bad job. You just need to know.

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