|Martin Yate CPC
NY Times Bestseller
35 Years in
Forget all the skeevy tricks you’ve heard for acing job interviews. The job offer usually goes to the candidate who understands the job well enough to turn a one-sided examination of skills into a conversation between two professionals with a common passion. Even without experience, you can develop this insight from your more experienced network contacts.
At job interviews you are evaluated partly on your answers to the interviewer’s questions, and partly by the questions you ask and don’t ask. Asking about salary and benefits sends one message; asking about the guts of the job, its challenges and performance expectations, sends another. The more performance-related your questions, the better.
Ask questions about the problems the job is there to anticipate, prevent, and solve, and the role it plays in helping the department meet its obligations in contributing to company profitability. Ask about the assignments with which you’ll be first involved; the types of challenges that each of those projects will throw up every day; who succeeds and who fails with these challenges and, most importantly, why. Performance-related questions like these demonstrate an engagement with your work that brands you as a potentially conscientious young professional who will quickly learn to become a contributing member of the team.
Questions That Demonstrate Engagement
Asking thoughtful questions that show you take your work seriously encourages the interviewer to give you insight into the job that you wouldn’t otherwise receive. The answers you hear in response to the following questions will give you an exact profile of the candidate the employer wants to hire, and therefore will give you some unique opportunities to sell yourself as that candidate:
“How would you describe a typical day in this job, and the deliverables you expect at the end of that day?”
“What do you consider the most important day-to-day responsibilities of this job?”
“What do you consider the most important day-to-day challenges of this job?”
“What skills do you consider critical to success in this work?”
“What aspects of the work cause entry-level professionals the most problems?”
“Who succeeds in this work and what sets them apart?”“Who fails in this work and why?”
“What projects will I be involved with in my first six months?”
“What will you want me to have achieved in my first 30, 60 and 90 days?”
“What will you want me to have achieved in the first six months?”
The answers you receive to questions like these, and your subsequent responses, will position you as someone who is thoroughly competent, engaged, and motivated. As a result, you will gradually feel the cold formality of the interview thaw as the interviewer begins to envision you as member of the team.
As this happens, you might throw in the odd question that encourages this view by subtly changing “you” and “I” to “we”, for example, “What are the biggest challenges our department faces this year and what will be my role as a team member in tackling them?”
Ask Questions But Don’t Ramble
Asking questions gives you information and the opportunity to promote your candidacy. So, after you answer an interviewer’s question, every now and follow-up with one of your own, for example if you have some experience relevant to the topic, you ask: “Would it be of value if I told you about a time when…” Then by all means talk, but don’t ramble. Never talk for more than two minutes without pausing for either the interviewer’s encouragement to continue or for re-direction to another topic.
A Question For When You Get Flustered
Everyone gets brain freeze once in a while at job interviews, so here’s a question that can buy you time if you get flustered during. If a question stumps you, ask, “I’m not sure I understood you correctly, would you run that by me again?” The interviewer will not only repeat the question, but will usually repeat it in greater detail, giving you greater insight into what might be behind the question and more time to formulate an answer.
As the interview draws to a close, you’ll be asked if you have any questions. You need to determine next steps. recap the reasons you are qualified and interested in pursuing the opportunity, and ask for the next meeting, “I’m interested in pursuing this. Can we schedule the next interview now?”
Your questions throughout the interview have demonstrated competency, commitment, and intelligent enthusiasm. So, after enumerating the reasons why you can do the job and want to join the team, you finish with one last question, “I want this job. What do I have to do to get it?”