Serious job candidates spend lots of time preparing what they’ll say to make a positive impression on the interviewer.
They work hard to:
- Anticipate the questions to be asked and the experiences they’ll draw on to answer them
- Master the behavioral interview process (those situation, steps taken, and results/outcomes responses)
- Deliver concise and precise answers, clearly articulated
- Conduct themselves in ways that respect the company’s culture; dress appropriately
- Demonstrate a calm and comfortable demeanor, even though they’re nervous
You do this because at least 80% of the interview is about you presenting yourself as the candidate of choice.
And then, when you least expect it, there’s one more question. Your answer becomes the tag line of your interview.
Nail it and raise your value. Blow it and wonder.
Seize the moment
At the end of your interview, anticipate that the tables will turn. In a blink, the control will switch from the interviewer to you.
It happens when the interviewer poses this simple question to you:
Do you have any questions for me?
The second you have a deer in the headlights look, you’ve set yourself back. It will be plain that you haven’t given a thought to anything beyond the vacancy itself.
If you recover like a slingshot by asking about salary, benefits, time off, training, and promotional opportunities, you’re cooked. The interview isn’t the time for those questions. You ask them when you’ve been given an offer.
The interviewer’s question can feel like a kind of sucker punch. It quickly reveals whether or not you see the job only in the context of your personal needs or as an opportunity for you to contribute to the success of the organization.
Consequently, the questions you ask the interviewer have the potential to differentiate you from other candidates in a big way. If your questions are lame, shallow, or vague, you won’t learn much and the interview will end on a flat note.
The object of your questions is to demonstrate your interest and intelligence while getting valuable information about the company’s culture, competitive challenges, and/or role in the community.
The best questions will engage the interviewer in the kind of conversation s/he would likely have with a business colleague. In short order, s/he may forget you are a candidate and momentarily consider you a coworker. That may very well give you a serious leg up.
In order to nail that last question, you have to prepare for it by learning all that you can about the company before the interview. Then come to the interview equipped with your questions.
Have them ready when you are asked. But if you are NOT asked at the end of the interview, pause and say, “I have a few questions for you. Do you have the time to answer them for me.”
If the interviewer’s answer is no, that tells you a lot about the company. If it’s yes, you’re gold.
Your questions should specifically fit the company and the opening. Here are a few to give you an idea of a direction to take:
- I understand that the vision/mission of the company is XYZ. Are there specific organizational performance goals that have been established for this fiscal year that you can share with me now?
- What is required by your employees to achieve those goals?
- In what way does this vacancy, when filled, help the company achieve one or more of those goals?
- In order to help the company grow, are there specific projects that would be a natural outgrowth of this job?
There is a sequential progression to these questions which demonstrates your intelligence, insight, and strategic awareness.
You may, in fact, catch your interviewer off guard with your questions more than likely, in a positive way. When you’re given an opportunity to step up to the plate. take a big swing. Then go ahead and knock it out of the park.
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