Sandy thought she had the job in the bag. Her background was a
perfect match for the job. She had an insider pulling for her and
she had a pretty good interview. A week later when she got the
"Thanks, but we found someone else" letter, she was
Jason is a whiz kid. He has more intellectual capital than
most people twice his age. Jason's problem is that interviews cause
him to shut down. He gets so nervous that he can't think of
anything to say. He's lost out on three jobs that were perfect for
him and he knows it was the interview process that did him
Most people don't like interviewing. They find it intimidating
at best and terrifying at its worst. Being judged and evaluated is
always difficult but when the consequences are so important, it can
send even the most qualified candidates into a panic.
One of the best tricks to interviewing well is to ask good
questions. Carefully prepared questions are a powerful, yet subtle
way to sell yourself to the interviewer. These questions will not
only provide you with the information you need, but can also reveal
your perceptiveness, experience and job knowledge.
When you ask questions about the company, job and the people
associated with it, you come across as discriminating and careful
about where you work. Ninety percent of all applicants don't do any
research on the jobs for which they interview. If you are as
results-minded as you say you are, then you need to be interested
in the company's bottom line.
Ask questions such as:
- "How do you think the company's new sales strategy will affect
- "The company must be very pleased with its low turnover rate.
How does this affect advancement opportunities?"
- " I saw the article in the paper about your merger with ACME.
How does this affect the company and your marketing
Be ready with a good mini-story that tells the interviewer how
you've had a similar experience or how your skills will help the
The data for questions such as these can be found on the
internet, in the Dun & Bradstreet Million Dollar Directory;
Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors and Executives; Moody's
Industrial Manual; or by calling the company's public relations
department and asking for information on the company.
Look for opportunities to ask questions early in the
interview, so that the exchange seems more like a two-way
conversation. You'll find out valuable information about the job
early enough to tailor your examples to fit. Focus on all aspects
of the job—reporting relationships, responsibilities, the
results they are looking for, and so on. Ask these questions in a
way that suggests your talents could help solve problems. You don't
want to ask questions in a way that would put the interviewer on
the defensive. Start with global questions and then work into more
job-specific ones. For example:
- "When I was doing some research, I found your company's mission
and vision statements. How do they have impact on this
- "What does the department want to accomplish in the next
- "What are you hoping this person will be able to do for you in
- "Who are the internal and external customers for this person
and what results do they expect?"
- "What happened to the last person who had this job?"
- "How would you characterize your management style?"
Although the interviewer will still ask 80 to 90 percent of
all the questions, you will find that asking intelligent questions
yourself will make the process feel less like an interrogation and
more like a conversation. You will be less nervous and more like a
partner in the interview process.