Laid off in America

Thursday, May 29, 2003

I think this will be my last column for this blog. I had several reasons for doing a blog on unemployment. I wanted to purge the experience. It was not altogether a pleasant experience and I wanted to get the negative feelings out of me. I wanted to record my experience. In the near future, I'm hoping to study people who are between jobs--how they cope, what their strategies are, how they use their time off, and if and when they land another job, how that compares to the one they left. I'm one subject in my data collection and I wanted a record while I was still fresh. Maybe I'll get a book out of this experience! I wanted to learn about blogs. I kept this one fairly simple, just to learn the basics. But I already have a new one in mind--a group one that will be syndicated. It will be a next generation for me. And finally, I was hoping to help a few people with my experiences. For no advertising and staying low key, I have been thrilled at the number of hits my blog has received. And from the comments of a few of my readers, I believe I accomplished this goal as well. So my first blogging experience has been a success.

The topic of this week's blog is a gift to my readers. It was a huge gift to me and one I found invaluable during interviews. My counselor, Joanne M., at my outplacement firm, in helping me prepare for interviews, gave me a list of really good questions she has collected to ask during interviews. She gave me tons of questions, and I will give you a subset here--as I re-wrote them to apply to my situation. Remember, I was applying in the HR department for succession planning and leadership development positions. I didn't have time to ask all of these during my interviews. And some of the questions were answered during the course of the interview of course. But the list ensured that I had questions ready when the chance arose for me to ask them. In one case, I had the confidence enough to call back and set up another interview just so I could ask my questions. I was a top candidate for that job. I didn't get it because the organization reorganized... c'est la vie.

1. Is there a succession plan (or leadership development process) in place now? Describe it. How well is it working?
2. Why is the job open and for how long?
If a new position, who did the directive come from? Did s/he request it? Does s/he support the need for succession planning?
3. How does this job fit in with the new emphasis on ... (any new initiatives taking place on an organization wide level that is in company materials or the press,for example for one job: results based performance and the balanced scorecard you are using?)
4. What are the major responsibilities of this job? Does it include managing others? If so, how many? Does it include working closely with operating units? How much autonomy is there in this position? Would you say that the expectations for this job are more strategic and long term focused, more tactical and day-to-day, or a mixture of both?
5. What are your expectations of the position beyond the job description?
6. What qualifications do you expect the best candidate to have?
7. What would a successful incumbent be like? What characteristics are necessary to be a successful contributor.
8. What are the long and short term goals of this position? Of (this area) and HR as a whole?
9. What do management, employees, clients expect and want from the HR department, this area in particular?
10. What are the contributions you would expect me to make in the first 6-8 months?
11. How is the HR department structured? What is the headcount? What are the roles and positions?
12. Describe how this particular group works together.
13. Do the various HR departments also work in partnership with each other? For example, will I be working with folks from the leadership development program, performance management, and training to ensure that all are in alignment? (This job was for succession planning)
14. What other infrastructure departments support this department to help it accomplish its goals and overall how well do they work together?
15. Describe interdepartmental relationships between this department and other functional areas. Between this department and operations areas?
16. What opinion do the operating units have of the HR department?
17. Does this area have its own budget? Who manages it and how? What would my role be?
18. Do you have documented departmental policies and procedures?
19. Do you have a performance management system in place for HR folks? How does it work?
20. How is performance measured against the goals of the department and of the organization overall? How well is it meeting those goals?
21. How would my position be evaluated and who has input into the assessment?
22. How would you describe the culture/environment of this company and of HR?
23. To boss: What is your management/leadership style?
24. (If there is a new CEO). What is X's leadership philosophy? What does s/he think of this initiative? Will s/he continue to be supportive of it?

I'll leave the site up for a few more weeks. Maybe a few late comers will stumble upon it and findit helpful. In the meantime, if you want to reach me, please send an email directly to me.

Happy searching and good luck! The U.S economy looks like it is getting better so maybe we are over the hump?

posted by Valerie 9:36 AM

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The experience of the new rite of passage among today's professionals: Being Unemployed

Contact me
You can contact me by sending me email at

This blog's mention in the July 2003 issue of Fast Company
Web of Despair.

Other unemployment blogs I have found
Ask your ass.
All about Jen.
Homee's job search.
Get that job.

Some blogs I like but haven't been updated in a while
Where The Hell Did My Job Go.
Invisible Matrix.

Credit problems?

What's keeping me occupied while I'm unemployed?
My husband and my travel photography blog.


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