Asking Great Questions: Part II

In the first blog post about asking great questions, we discussed how asking great questions can enable you to steer the interview toward a more relaxed and mutually involved “conversation” as opposed to the high-pressure “interrogation” that you sometimes get.  This is hugely valuable.  As I’ve always said, many of us put enough pressure on ourselves to perform well in an interview, we don’t need anymore.

This blog is going to focus on one of the other – and probably one of the most important – benefits from asking great questions.  Simply put, when you are in an interview, your job is to convince the company that you can add value to their organization in whatever way they feel they need that value added (this is code for “sell yourself”).  It’s remarkably straightforward, really.  They feel as if they need someone who has X, Y and Z that can help their company in A, B and C manner – all you have to do is identify what X, Y, Z and A, B and C really stand for and show them that you have those skills or abilities.

Well, we all know that things are sometimes easier said than done.  If it really were that simple, nobody would have trouble finding a job…ever.  The reality is, miscommunication, inaccurate preconceptions and ungrounded self-evaluation all exist; and these things can become monumental roadblocks in an interview, if you let them.

Of all interview tips I can think of, asking great questions has to be somewhere near the top of the list.  The right questions allow you to accurately decipher what X, Y and Z really stand for, allowing you to effectively communicate your ability to do the job.  How many times have you witnessed a discussion when one person says to the other, “you’re hearing me, but you’re not listening” or “I don’t think we’re on the same page?”  These are perfect everyday examples of simple miscommunications that lead to issues – don’t let the same happen in your interview.  Here are some of the basic questions to consider asking:

  • What’s the company culture like at ABC Corp?
  • What do you look for in a candidate?
  • What sort of projects would I be working on? (What sort of problems will I be solving?)
  • What is the most difficult aspect of the job I’m interviewing for?
  • What is the best thing about working for ABC Corp?  If you could change one thing, what would it be?
  • What do you think has been the most important contributing factor to your success here?
  • What piece of advice would you give to someone who’s starting his or her career at ABC Corp?

These are only some of the basics, but I’m sure you can imagine how listening carefully to the answers your interview is giving will allow you to paint a detailed picture of what they are looking to see.  Our company culture is one of this; that’s what we look for in a candidate; your projects will be of this nature; this is the biggest challenge for your potential job…etc.  The more they elaborate on the answers to these questions, the more informed and intelligent you’ll sound when it’s your turn to talk.  So never make an uninformed statement when a question is possible,  it’ll pay off in your interview and throughout your career.

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