Asking questions in job interviews is always a good idea…it shows that you’ve done your homework, that you are interested and enthusiastic about the job, and it gives you a better interview overall.
You always want to ask smart questions about the job and the company, but there are two questions that will have an enormous impact on your interview success. The first question helps you deliver better interview answers, and the second boosts your chances of getting the job by 30% – 40%.
Question #1 – “What does an ideal candidate for this position look like?”
You can phrase this question however you like, as long as you ask it relatively early in the interview (before you really get into answering questions). You may ask, “What are you looking for?” or “What’s on your wish list for a perfect candidate?”
You may hesitate to ask this, out of fear of making yourself look like less than amazing for this job—but you will be missing out on a huge benefit.
The truth is that there will be no ideal, perfect candidate…no one’s perfect. What you’re getting out of asking this is a peek into what the hiring manager really cares about. You can’t always count on the job description being completely up to date. Maybe the person hiring for this position cares more about some skills or qualities than others.
The point is that once you know what they value or what they’re looking for, you can tailor your answers accordingly. You will be able to present your skills, abilities and experience in light of their specific needs. For instance…say you’re interviewing for a technical job—but when you ask this question, you discover that the hiring manager would like to have someone who’s good with people, too. Now, you can talk about your technical skills AND your communication skills, customer service skills, or whatever they’ve indicated. Someone who didn’t ask this question wouldn’t know that, and so they would not perform as well in the interview. You will, and you will have boosted your chances of getting the job offer.
Question #2 – “Based on what we’ve talked about today, can you see me being successful in this role?”
With this question, you are trying to find out if you have convinced them to hire you, or if they have doubts that will keep them from making you the offer. This is a technique borrowed from sales called ‘closing.’ Make no mistake—it can be difficult to find the courage to ask this question. However, the reward is great.
If you ask and they say yes, they can see you being successful in this role, you will know you’ve done a great job interviewing and you can leave knowing they will be advocating for hiring you.
If they say no, it may be hard to hear, but now you know there’s a problem (keep in mind, it would be there whether you asked about it or not). You need to ask why, or ask what the issue is. Once you know what the problem is, you can attempt to correct the issue.
It may be that you failed to address something in your interview answers, and now that you know what it is, you can talk about it. You may very well ease their minds, and put them back on your side. Job seekers have absolutely saved job offers by asking this question.
Whatever it is, you need to find out and try to correct it before you leave. Now is your best chance. Once you leave the interview, it’s much more difficult, if not impossible.
If there’s an interview in your future, download my Free Job Interview Prep Kit here: Ultimate Guide to Job Interview Prep. It’s a comprehensive, step-by-step workbook that will help you with researching the company, answering interview questions, critical interview dos and don’ts, and more.
About the author
Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.
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