The Only Question (Almost) You Need to Ask in a Job Interview

You’ve got the interview. Great. Your suit is pressed and you’ve done your research. You’ve practiced answering tough questions like:

  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • Explain how you handled a difficult person at work
  • Discuss a failure you had and how you managed to turn it around

Phew. Ok, you’re ready. Here’s one more idea. When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, try this:

“What are you looking for in a candidate?”

Wow, powerful question. Think about it. This gets the interviewer talking specifically about the criteria (hopefully beyond the job description) they are using to judge candidates. I suggest you take notes while they are talking. This will help you talk point by point about how you fit their criteria.

Ask questions for clarification but do not interrupt. Let the person talk as long as they want. This is the specific information that you need to sell them on your credentials. I repeat, let them finish and be sure you understand (using active listening) what s/he is saying.

Once you understand, you can start telling the interviewer about how your skills and experience match what they are looking for. While they are talking you can be jotting down ideas or stories that will convince them you’re the one. This is your chance to be self-confident and helps you to focus on the skills that are most important to this hiring manager.

I previously wrote about my favorite interview question, “Why is this a great place to work?” Try both of these and let me know how it goes.

Pay Attention Or You Might Miss Something Very Cool

Look at this picture carefully. Notice something about the rider? Inspiration is all around us if we pay attention. I liked this blog post from a bike rider   http://kevinliebl.wordpress.com/2009/12/06/inspiration/.

What’s great about this story is that while the author comes across inspiration unexpectedly, as we often do, he fully  appreciates what he’s observed and that’s the key. It’s easy to understand why the other rider causes him to pause, after all, this bike rider is unlike almost any other.  How do we find inspiration when the source is not so obvious?

You know the bumper sticker; if you can read this thank a teacher. It’s good to appreciate the people who teach our children, but what about the person who drives them on the school bus?  Driving a school bus is a tough job and I am always especially inspired by the person who has the patience (and shoulder the risk) of driving my kids to school. This is not a plea for ‘love a bus driver’ (although I think the same thing about city bus drivers – the patience, the traffic…) but is a suggestion to look for inspiration in the simplest of places. It is all around us if we only stop for a minute and appreciate people’s effort.

Every day, I make it a habit to catch people doing things right and thanking them for it. I smile and wave thank you at the person (standing the hot sun or freezing cold) directing traffic around road construction. They inevitably smile back. They are there to make my driving safer. I’m inspired by their willingness to smile at someone just driving by.

Catch people in your family learning new things – that’s inspirational. If you really listen to the person you just met, you might find them compelling. But you’ll need to pay attention. Tell me about the things and people you find inspirational.

Change is Good

One of my favorite sayings is “Change is good, timing is everything and patience is the key.” While I like it, I also hate it. Change is hard.

Growing up, my family moved around a lot so I got very good at making new friends and adapting to new situations. I had more success being a good listener than a big talker. I learned to ask questions so people would talk about themselves. I learned to smile and be patient. All these skills have contributed to my professional success.

We can learn a lot from our animal friends. Think about the chameleon. Change doesn’t faze this little creature; s/he expects it and is ready anytime to adapt to their environment. It’s part of their DNA. What part of your professional style needs adapting? Talking less and listening more? Saying positive things about your accomplishments? Building a new skill? Or is it just finding joy in the small things of everyday life?

Change is Good is a short, inspirational video that will remind you why change is so important. Watch, enjoy and then decide what you are going to do to prepare for the changes that are coming, ‘cause they’re coming!