In his recent book, “Guide to Rethinking Interviews,” Richard Bolles says there are really only five questions an employer wants answers to in a job interview – but that they won’t come right out and ask them.
Here’s what they’re trying to find out from you.
Why are you here? This question really means, “Why are you knocking on our door, rather than someone else’s door? How much do you know about who we are, and what we do here?” Research the company to the nth degree and be prepared to tell an interviewer, without being asked, why you are keen to grace their halls.
What can you do for us? An interview is all about the company and what you are going to do for them. It is NOT about what you have done in the past that doesn’t relate to the future responsibilities of this position. Feel free to ask the interviewer what skills they see as most needed to do the job really effectively if you haven’t seen a concise job description. This is where your SAR stories really come in. Prepare at least 5-10 accomplishment based statements to sell yourself and present the skills you bring to the table with the results that amaze and impress.
Will you fit into our corporate culture? This aspect of the interview is to find out whether you will: a) fit in b) inspire others c)be a pleasure to work with d) be problematic one day e) be easy to work with e) share the same values as this place has? You will be under scrutiny from the minute you enter the reception area. Your tone of voice will be evaluated along with your body language, verbiage, eye contact, clothing, self confidence and ability to engage the interviewer(s).
What are your distinguishing characteristics? This answer isn’t about your skill set, but about your strengths. Are you more tenacious, more thorough, more creative, more strategic than the average Joe? The employer wants to know your magic, your highlights. Be prepared to use comparative words, numbers, percentages and quantities if applicable. An example: “ The average closing rate at my last company was 10%. I closed 15% within the first six months.”
Can we afford you? This feeling and concern is floating below the surface of the conversations as you move through the interview. Once an interviewer falls in love with you, salary becomes your advantage. The piece de resistance is when a company starts selling you on the job, which is what happens when you make yourself so attractive they decide they can’t live without you.
Help the interviewer out by covering these points without them being raised. Remember too that an interview is a two way street, you need to ask questions as well as answer them.
Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate Trainer
Author of Networking: How to Build Relationships That Count, How to Get a Job and Keep It
Co-author of The Power of Mentorship; The Mastermind Group