I was on an interview panel recently and one of the applicants used a variation of an interview technique I recommend, but in a slightly different way – to great effect. It was so good that I wanted to share it with you.
I always recommend that you prepare relevant questions to ask at every interview. This candidate had some very good questions prepared but here’s the twist: she managed to ask them at beginning of the interview instead of at the end. Here’s how she did it.
At the start of the interview, when we asked what is frequently the first question in an interview, namely, “Tell us a bit about your background,” she countered by saying, “Okay, but first could you please answer a couple of questions about the job so that I can make sure my answers are relevant to what you’re currently looking for.”
When you think about it, it actually makes a lot of sense to ask your questions at the beginning rather than the end of the interview. We gave her some details about the job up front that she would not have otherwise heard and she was able to take this information and run with it. She cited several examples of her accomplishments during the interview that clearly were targeted towards what she heard from us at the start.
Of course, using this technique you have to be able to think on the fly and tailor your questions to what you’ve heard, which means you’ll have to have already researched the company prior to the interview. But this is something you should already be doing before every interview (you do this, of course…right?).
You certainly don’t want to appear as if you’re trying to hijack the interview, but if you ask in a reasonable manner, as did this candidate, the interview team won’t take offense and will almost certainly be happy to answer your questions.
Okay, so what sort of questions should you ask in order to help tailor your responses during the interview? Here are a few to get you thinking.
“What are the three most important goals for the person who gets this job to address?”
“What is the biggest current hurdle faced by this position?”
“What do you think will be the primary determinant of success for whoever takes this position?”
You get the point. What you’re really after is information that you can relate to your experience and qualifications. This will enable you to better answer subsequent questions in a manner that demonstrates you’re an excellent fit for the job.
This way, at the end of the interview when you’re invariably asked if you have any questions, you can simply answer with, “You’ve already answered my most important questions at the beginning, which really helped me to see that we’re a good match. I’m convinced this is the position I want, so what else do I need to do to convince you I’m the best person for the job?”
Oh, and by the way – I’ll bet you’re wondering if this candidate got the job…and the answer is yes! Try her approach – it may just work for you, too.