Interviews can be one of the hardest hurdles to overcome in the job search process. In fact, some interviews can be intimidating for jobseekers, particularly where you have a panel of two, three or more interviewers looking on at you from the other side of the table.
But one of the hardest parts of the interview is that end part where the interviewer throws the ball in your court and asks, “So, do you have any questions for me?”
To remain silent at this point could literally cost you the job so you have to be ready and prepared with one question you can ask (although aim for much more than one – three’s a good number).
Questions give you a real chance to shine as a candidate and set yourself apart from the competition. They demonstrate your interest in the job and the organisation; they allow you to engage in further conversation with the interviewer and thus build rapport, and, depending on the quality of your questions, they give the interviewer further insight into the depth of your knowledge and your level of intelligence concerning the field.
Essentially your questions help the interviewer make the final assessment on how suitable you are for the role and whether or not you would be a good fit for the organisation.
The number one question
Now many books, career advisers and internet sites will give you a whole range of questions to ask at this point, from “Tell me more about your company” to “How soon can I start?”, but this week I heard a jobseeker ask a fantastic question at an interview – in fact, this question may well be the number one question to ask in your job interview before you part ways with the interviewer.
The young man who used this question was successful in not just landing the job at hand, but also bagging with it a £5.5k pay increase from his previous salary. His question was simple but potent – it allowed him to demonstrate his interest in the job and his eagerness to please, but most of all, it obligated his interviewers to give him an on-the-spot assessment of his performance which would be invaluable feedback moving forward, had he been unsuccessful in this role.
Here’s the question he asked:
“Based on my CV and what you have learnt of me so far in this interview, is there anything in my background that may cause you to feel that I’m not suitable for this job in any way?”
This question can also be asked in several ways, including: “Do you have any concerns that I need to clear up in order to be the top candidate?” or “Do you have any questions or concerns about my ability to perform this job?”
At this point the young man received great feedback from all three interviewers about his abilities, with no objections at all raised about his suitability for the role. Sure enough, the phone call came that same afternoon to confirm he had the job.
Why did this question work?
Many jobseekers shy away from using this question because they feel that it works against them – “Surely, you shouldn’t be asking your potential employer to tell you what’s wrong with you, should you?”
As anyone in sales can tell you, inviting objections is a good thing because objections usually occur when a prospect is close to being “sold to”; in fact, you could say that objections are the final line of defence in a sales transaction. In the same way, asking your interviewer to raise their objections or concerns about you not only portrays the admirable trait of confidence on your part, it also gives you a chance to address these objections directly by pointing out some relevant skill, experience or strength you may have that may not have been discussed at any other point in the interview.
On the other hand, you may find there are no objections or concerns at all which can be a good indication that you’re a strong candidate for the role. Either way, you won’t know unless you ask so go right ahead and take the risk to ask this question at your next interview – maybe you too will walk away with the job and a pay rise!
Your turn: I’d love to hear your experience of interview questions that have worked well for you as a jobseeker, or candidate questions that have impressed you as a recruiter. Drop me a comment below…
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