I had an applicant once that used a very interesting technique in her interview. It worked so well that I wanted to pass her approach on to you.
If you’ve read my site, you know that I strongly recommend that you create several relevant questions that you can ask during your interview. This particular candidate had some excellent questions prepared but with an important twist: she asked them at the start of her interview.
This may seem odd but I’m here to tell you that it worked very well. This is how she handled it.
A Unique Way to Ask Questions
My interview panel began the interview with what is probably the most often asked first question: “Tell us about your background.” Instead of immediately answering the question, she countered with this: “I’d be happy to, but could you first please answer a couple of questions I have about the job. That way, I can make sure my answers are specific and relevant to the skills and experience that you’re looking for.”
In all the years I’ve been conducting interviews, this is only the second time that I’ve had a candidate use an approach similar to this, and both times it was impressive. It demonstrates a high level of preparation and ability to think on the fly.
By asking her questions, we gave her some information and details about the position right upfront. She was then able to use this information to better customize her answers to many of the subsequent questions we asked.
She gave several examples of her experience and accomplishments throughout the interview that directly addressed the information she heard upfront.
How to Ask Questions the Right Way
To do this as well as she did, you must be able to think creatively off the top of your head and customize your answers to the questions asked. The best way to be able to do this is to have already researched the company thoroughly before your interview (if you’ve followed the advice on my site, you will have of course already done this!).
You never want to appear to be hijacking the interview, so it’s important to use this approach reasonably and politely, as this young lady did. If you do, the interview team won’t take offense and will be pleased and impressed.
Once you’ve received permission to ask your questions upfront, here are a few good ones to use. They are designed to draw out specific information about the position that you can use to better tailor your answers to exactly what the interview team is looking for.
“What are the three most important goals for this position?”
“What will be the most challenging problem for the person who gets this position to address?”
“What do you feel will be the primary determinants for success in this position?”
Your goal with questions such as these is to get information you can use to show that your experience, qualifications, and accomplishments make you an excellent fit for that position.
If you use this approach, when you’re asked at the end of the interview (which you will be!) if you have any questions for the interviewers, you can use what I consider to be the perfect statement with which to end your interview:
“Well, you’ve already answered my most important questions at the start of the interview and that helped me to see that we’re a good match. I’m convinced that 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?”
And before I forget, the person I mentioned at the beginning did get the job (no surprise there)!
Try using this approach – done right, it will greatly increase your chance of pulling off a kick-ass interview.