Some people understand that in order to learn you have to listen, whether you’re in a discussion, or an interview. Others believe that in order to be noticed, they have to be in the spotlight, giving gems of wisdom to the great unwashed. The point is, the best way to learn what the hiring manager needs and how you can best present yourself is to mutually share information, listen very carefully and ask excellent questions.
During an interview, the hiring manager is going to ask you a series of questions about your background and experiences. He wants to find out if you match the critical skills that are needed to fill the open position. One of the best interview strategies is for you to ask this question as you’re sitting down at the beginning of the interview, “Just out of curiosity, what was it about my resume that you found of interest?” If the hiring managers answers that question, you will now know the key issue he is trying to solve. For instance, if he answers, “Your installation of a process improvement system that saved $1.2 million”. You can then discuss potential solutions to fit his issue.
Asking the right questions and doing a lot of insightful listening will pay dividends. If you spend most of the interview talking about your experiences without knowing the target, it’s a hit-or-miss strategy. You learn by actively listening for information that will advance your candidacy, then ask strategic questions.
Once you have some knowledge of the issues, communicate similar achievements in other organizations that can be translated to success here in the open position. That only works if you can identify the issues. You can only define the issues by asking the right questions.
One other strategy that works to your advantage: Make sure there is a balance of information sharing so each party is giving and receiving important knowledge. Whoever is doing the most talking during an interview is learning the least. If you or the interviewer dominates the discussion the interview will be less effective.
When the interviewer asks, “What questions do you have for me?” usually at the end of the interview, there are a few questions that will place you at the top of the list of candidates. This type of question will not only give you critical information, but also position you as a results-oriented achiever looking for ways to contribute to the objectives of the hiring manager. The questions are:
- What are your expectations for results from this function in the first 6 months?
- How can I contribute the greatest value to you and your organization in the first 12 months?
- What are the objectives for this job to be a high performer to your organization?
Knowledge is power. You can only gain that knowledge through others.
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