When we are focused on finding our dream job, we want to pull out all of the stops by increasing our probability at every stage of the pursuit including improving the quality of our research, understanding and respecting the interview personalities, and elevating our mindset in how we approach finding great opportunities
In Part Two, I brought up that in sales, people don’t want to hear pitches, they want to encounter fulfilled expectations. Throughout an interview, it is ideal to develop a mutual and collaborative conversation between the candidate and the person conducting the interview. For example, someone in talent acquisition is probably going to be more straightforward with what they are looking for in a candidate because they usually have a lot of ground to cover in one day. Perhaps you will want to ask, up front, what are they looking for, what are they having trouble finding and if you don’t have it, perhaps you know someone who is a much greater fit. In fact, I once got rid of a boss from hell with that outlook.
Today, I’m going to share with you some of the early, mid, and late stage questions to ask in interviews. The purpose of the questions are multifold:
- To encourage conversation and create rapport
- To identify the needs and expectations of the hiring manager
- To find any “deal breakers” for either of you
A few questions to always ask:
How much time do we have for our interview?
(You don’t want to be giving an in-depth review on a topic only to discover you’ve run out of time for the big stuff.)
What do you most want to accomplish in our conversation? In other words, what are the topics you would like to cover? Perhaps we can start there and then fill in the details.
Sometimes, an interviewer will be surprised by questions like this. Comfort them and let them know you are not getting ready for an interrogation! In fact, by asking a few clarifying questions up front, your intention is to be more rather than less respectful of their time.
A few tips about “early-on” questions.
The only time we ask a close-ended question in an interview is when we want to regain control of the conversation without telling the other person to shut up.
“You sound pretty concerned about this. Is that the case?”
Open-ended questions are the drivers behind defining someone’s needs and expectations. At the beginning of an interview, ask the most open-ended questions possible, the on’s that give the other person complete support in addressing a topic.
For example, if someone comes into our office, I would often ask,
“How do you feel about your career?”
“How do you feel” gives the other person complete permission to share anything on their mind on the topic. The feedback also gives you insight into where to take the interview.
Other “early-on” examples:
Please tell me the events that led to our interview today. In other words, why is this new position open and what do want to accomplish with someone like me?
What do you most want to learn about me today?
A few tips on how to keep the conversation “fluid.”
Don’t ask one question after another. The person will soon develop a sense of being water-boarded. You can tell the other person to give you the same information instead of asking for it. For example, “Tell me what you want to accomplish.”
Also, reflect back what you are hearing in your own words. This shows the other person you are listening and respectful enough to check-in and makes sure you are on the same page. Then, ask another question that takes the conversation a step deeper. For example, “You had high expectations that the previous individual would have developed a new digital platform for your division in 3 months. That sounds reasonable. What got in the way of delivering the necessary results?”
2nd Level Questions – The Foundation
A few examples:
Our profession is facing a great deal of change. How do you feel about those changes?
You’ve been with the company for 21 years. I can only imagine the changes you have orchestrated. Where does this job fit into the most recent changes?
What do you most want to learn about me?
What are your biggest challenges today and how would you want someone like me to help?
3rd Level Questions – Idiosyncrasies
In our sales training, we find that buyers often withhold the very information that can keep us from making an honest and straightforward. For example, how many buyers willingly share their budget? And yet, at least with any of us who want to do our best, this is critically important information.
Don’t ask the deal breaker questions until you have a rapport with the interviewer and sometimes you will have to help the interviewer along. For example, returning to the example of a budget, we will often say, “Listen, trusting me is a choice. So, if you can choose to trust me, sharing your budget is going to be helpful in coming back to you with a real proposal, one that describes all that we will do for you. In other words, I’m going to bring you a real proposal!”
Sometimes, you will be aware why the previous person left the job.
“I have heard through our grapevine that the last person left because he could not meet the revenue projections for last year. Based on what you know now, what do you expect to do differently?”
“If you were going to produce a miracle, what you would change?”
“How could I exceed your every expectation? What would that look like for you?”
Please note, often the idiosyncratic questions will involve money, breakdowns, missed expectations, and they can be revealed by pushing beyond the basic expectations.
Our entire series isn’t to give you an A-Z deeply involved session but to introduce you to concepts that can help all of your interviews regardless of which side of the fence you are sitting on.
Tomorrow, the last article in this series will share my favorite dream job stories!
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