When you’re involved in the interviewing process, you’re going to ask lots of give-and-take questions. But, in the final analysis you need to know if you are a serious contender for the position and the only way you’re going to know that is by asking some very blunt and to- the-point questions whose answers will tell you if you are a strong contender, even if you are the candidate they are going to offer the job to.
I’ve mentioned the most obvious one, “What do I need to do to get the job?” And this is the most important one. There are three other questions, however, that are almost as important. The answers to these questions not only tell you how you stand with the hiring authority, but they can also help clarify any concerns the hiring authority might have about your experience or background that they may not be bold enough to ask.
The four questions are:
- Have I made my experience and background clear? Are there any questions about what I have done before or my qualifications?
- How does what I have to offer stack up with what you’re looking for? Are there any concerns about my ability to do the job?
- How do I compare with the other people that you are interviewing? How do I stack up with them?
- What do we need to do to get the job?
The reason you asked the first question about your background is to be sure that the interviewing authority or group of interviewing authorities really understand your background and your experience. You’d be amazed at the number of people who after a candidate has walked away, are not really sure of what a candidate’s experience or background might be. They often times get so wrapped up in asking questions that they don’t really get clear ideas of exactly what you have done before.
By asking this question, you give the interviewing or hiring authority a chance to clarify any questions about your exact experience. It will give them an opportunity to review what you told them about what you’ve done and make sure that they are clear about your background. You give them a chance to answer any questions they might be embarrassed to ask, revealing that they may not have been listening. You make it comfortable for them to get clarification.
The second question will hopefully reveal any issues or concerns the interviewing or hiring authority might have regarding your ability to do the job. The answers to this question will tell you if they perceive any weaknesses in your experience or your ability to do the job.
The answers to this question will give you the opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings or offset any concerns that they might have about your ability to do what they want done.
The third question will reveal how you stack up with the other candidates that they have interviewed. The answer to this question will tell you how many other candidates might be as strong or stronger for the position.
It is likely that you are going to be the only candidate that’s going to have the guts to ask this kind of question. So don’t be surprised if you get a relatively blank stare, with the interviewing or hiring authority wondering exactly what to say. If they say something wishy-washy like, “Well, you rank right up there near the top,” then you might retort by asking, “What will I need to do to become the number one candidate?”
Whatever answer you get to this question will give you a really good idea about how you stack up with the other candidates. Now you may not be told that you are the number one candidate but most of the time you’re going to get a smile and encouragement from the person doing the interviewing or hiring. Hiring authorities absolutely love this question and they will give you all kinds of credit for having the courage to ask it. If they give you a very weak answer that doesn’t really tell you very much, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not the best candidate; it just means that they don’t really have the courage or the guts to tell you that and may be relying on other people to help them with the decision.
The last question, as I’ve mentioned in other portions of this program is, “What do I need to do to get the job?” You absolutely have to ask this no matter what. Even if you don’t think you have a prayer of getting the job offer, you still need to ask.
I ask candidates at least once a day if they asked these four questions, especially the last one. I ask even after they’ve taken this program. Even after I’ve reinforce that they absolutely have to ask these questions, they often times just plain don’t have the guts and the courage to do it. They say stupid things like “Well, I just didn’t think the timing was right,”… “Well, we were in a big hurry and I didn’t get a chance to ask,” blah, blah, blah. It’s all a bunch of garbage. What they’re telling me is they just didn’t have the guts to ask “Are you going to hire me or not?”
The candidates that have the courage to ask these four questions are the candidates who get the most job offers. I can’t make it any clearer than that. You can come up with all kinds of excuses as to why you can’t or shouldn’t or won’t, but it’s all a bunch of junk. If you really want a job offer, you will be bold and ask these four questions.