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Is there relocation now or down the road?

As with a high degree of travel, if immediate relocation is involved in the position, you will probably learn about it in the initial part of the interviewing process. Relocation is an expensive venture and companies don't do it unless there's real value for them.

Bluntly, and most companies won't admit to this, it is often cheaper to find someone in the local area to do a specific job then is to relocate even a proven employee to where the job is. Unless it's for a very difficult position to sell, most companies are going to try to find a qualified candidate in the city where the job is. Over the past few years, this has not been difficult to do. But, as happened frequently in the late 1990s, there will come a time when companies may have to relocate new employees.

Relocation is a lot more expensive than it used to be, and companies in the last few years haven't had to do it. So, if it is involved now or later, be sure that you are clear about what the company will and won't do regarding relocation. A company might move you but not be responsible or help you out in selling your present home. In some real-estate markets it may be very difficult to do. You need to be aware of the organization's relocation policies and packages, too. Years ago, these kinds of packages were fairly standard. But that is not the case any more.

Relocation in the future for a particular company or position is hard to predict. I've known plenty of organizations over the years that, rather than lay people off, told them that they were going to move their job to a distant city, knowing that the people would not relocate and therefore forcing them to leave the company. It is a very economical way to lay people off without paying severance. Don't be so naive as to think that companies are going to be understanding and kind about this kind of thing. Most organizations have no qualms about "forcing" people to resign by offering to relocate them, knowing they can't, if they think it is in their best interest.

How long do you plan to be in your position? With the company?

How someone answers this is as important as what he or she says. Once in a while, a hiring authority will be blunt with you about how long he or she plans to stay in the job. This is good to know, because you may want to move up in the organization also.

Whenever you do, don't take the answer for gospel. As I've tried to establish, a business today is very erratic. Companies, let alone people, have no idea how long they're going to be around. If the average tenure on a job is three years, don't expect somebody to tell you that she's going to be in her position much longer than that.

It is good to know, though, if the hiring authority has plans beyond his or her present position. If you get an answer like, "Well, most of the people in positions in this company say two to three years and then rotate to other departments of the organization," then you realize that you will be faced with the same opportunity. If you get, "I have absolutely no idea. I just take things day to day, month to month, and year to year," then at least you have an idea of how this person feels about her future.

Why have people in the past failed to do well at this job?

This is a great question. Often, you will have gotten a sense of how well people did in the job in your interviewing before you get to this point. However, it is a real good idea to ask this question at this point of getting an offer. If you hadn't gotten the real reason about why people have failed before, you will probably get it now.

More often than not, in the beginning of the hiring process, hiring authorities will gloss over the failures that people have had in the particular job they are interviewing for. They don't want to admit that they hired somebody that was incompetent, or they just think it is better to not say anything negative. Now, however, they want you to take the job. So, they should be in more of a sales mode and willing to share with you the real reason or reasons that people have failed.

Don't be surprised if you hear stories, scenarios, or descriptions of previous employees that you have never had before. The reason you may hear these can be very revealing and may very well end up making a difference in your taking the job. If you hear something like, "The pressure on the person in this position by the comptroller is immense," you may want to investigate exactly what "pressure" means. If it means that nobody can get along with the comptroller, it's one thing. Or if the comptroller is very demanding about the reports that he receives, is yet another. Listen very carefully to the answer that you get from this question. Whatever the hiring authority tells you, he may be saying this same thing about you some day.

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