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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

a great question to ask your interviewer

On a phone interview today, when I asked the candidate what questions she had for me, she asked me this:

Thinking back to people who have been in this position previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great?

This is the sort of question that melts an interviewer's heart. I'm still mentally beaming at her. Add it to your list!

10 comments:

Evil HR Lady said...

Can you please remind me of this the next time I have a job interview? That's an excellent question.

Rowan Manahan said...

I love that question too - as an interviewer, it shows me that the candidate has really given some thought to the process and is thinking beyond the interview and visualising doing the job. As an inetrviewee (or advisor to interviewees) it tells me whether the interviewer knows what she/he is looking for.

A disappointingly large number of interviewers say, "Um, that's a really good question" but can't really answer it ...

Frank Salinas said...

Let us know if she is going to get the job.

Kingsley Tagbo, IT Career Coach said...

Excellent Question! Wish I'd thought of that one...

Unemployed Gal said...

Great question! (I added it to my list.) I’d been using the more hypothetical “How would you describe your ideal candidate for this position?” and “What are the standards of success for this position?” You’d be surprised how often I’d get a vague non-answer about regional sales goals and customer service. One hiring manager actually admitted that he had “never thought about it.” You’ve never thought about your definition for success? Umm, no thanks...

I think your question is better, because it lets the manager rave about her favorite former employee. The interviewee can see how well he measures up to the manager’s standards, and if they share the same standards. If the manager raves about how her favorite former employee was a golf buddy who always brought donuts, that tells you that being the boss’s BFF is more important than competence and profitability.

I would follow up by asking why that awesome employee left the position. This will give you clues for your own career path with this employer. Was she promoted for her excellence, or did she quit because she was underpaid? Thinking an employee is great and rewarding her are two different things.

Paul Hebert said...

A variation on that theme - I've asked what would cause failure in the position. What would failure look like. Just like the great question in the post it makes the interviewer think about the negatives (which of course you don't have) and it allows the applicant to assess if they think they can do the job.

Great question!

KJ said...

I'm always curious after AAM posts great advice: What do hiring managers that read this blog think when applicants use AAM's advice?

What I mean is, I use a lot of AAM's advice in terms of interview questions, resume help, etc, and I plan on asking this question from now on. On the chance that the interviewer reads this blog, is it going to seem insincere?

Obviously I have no way of knowing if they read this or not, so I'm still going to ask the question. I'm just curious as to how it comes off to managers.

Anonymous said...

My favorite question as an interviewee is "what was the last emergency you had to deal with?" Though I've yet to get an actual answer to it. I suspect people don't trust that I actually want an honest answer to it.

Bohemedude's Page said...

I advise my clients to ask the "Power Question." It goes like this:
Given my work experience and qualifications, what might be a concern with hiring me? The question does two things. First, it shows you are open to constructive criticism. Second, it gives you the opportunity to address any concerns or to clarify something that was possibly misunderstood in the interview.

Jerome Imhoff
The Resume Shop, INK

Anonymous said...

I've started using this in all my interviews...the interviewer today REALLY liked it! And it provided me some good insight about what to make sure I'm doing correctly, if I get the job (which I really hope I do!). So thanks a bunch, your blog has really helped me.