October 9, 2017 • 5 minute read • by Saeed
You did your homework. You researched the organization.
You got your elevator pitch down about why you are the ideal candidate.
You selected your best business attire and made sure you “look” the part.
You fine tuned your responses to common behavioral interview questions.
You made a good first impression.
But you didn’t get a call back. Why?
One of the most common reasons is that you failed to show your curiosity and enthusiasm for the job, the people, and the company.
Most interviews have time reserved at the end for you to ask questions. This is your 15 minutes of fame moment. This is where you show off your research skills, your engagement skills, your critical thinking skills, and, perhaps most importantly, your emotional intelligence skills.
As far as knowledge and technical expertise are concerned, you are probably qualified enough for the job. Why would you apply otherwise? And the same logic applies to your competition. If you made it this far, it’s because you’re being considered in a pool of other qualified candidates.
So at this stage, they are not only evaluating you to see if your qualifications are a match and that you are a good fit, they are evaluating you to see if you really want the job. If you are allowing yourself to be grilled for 45 minutes and then freezing when it’s your 15 minute window of opportunity to demonstrate your curiosity and enthusiasm, you will disappoint.
What should your approach be instead?
You have to think of an interview as a two-way dialogue than a one-way dissection of your resume. There are several distinct advantages to this approach.
By flipping your perspective, you can actually use an interview as an opportunity to learn more about the role you are applying for and if it would be an good fit for you.
Asking thoughtful questions will signal to the interviewer your preparedness and interest in the position. It will also demonstrate that you are not just there to take any job. You want to be successful so you are evaluating the position accordingly. It signals that you value yourself and that therefore, you are of value.
Carefully think about questions that help clarify or shed more light on the actual role for which you are applying. Think through questions that you cannot readily find the answer to through public sources like company profile pages.
Then, make sure you do the following:
- Engage them in an authentic dialogue. It’s really important to leverage your natural curiosity to identify questions that can help facilitate a dialogue. Write down the questions you have – interviewers notice when candidates have taken the time to research the company and come prepared with some thoughtful questions. Have five or six questions ready to ask and don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions – it’s a more natural way to engage in conversation.
- Ask what you really want to know. There are questions everyone wants to ask that may feel “risky” or too controversial so if you are going there, carefully phrase the question so it’s less negative and more constructive. For instance, if you really want to know how much travel the role will involve, you could frame it as something along the lines of: “I realize there is some travel involved with this role, but I was curious if you had a perspective about work-life fit at your company overall.”
- Get to the heart of the matter. Pose your questions in such a way that you can gain some level of insight from them. Remember that answers are providing you more detail to consider as you weigh the pros and cons of starting your new job. To do this, you must know the job description well and learn to read between the bullet points.
- Make sure you tailor your questions to your interviewer. Don’t ask senior leaders questions about what their first year was like. Ask instead about growth in his or her particular area or ask about learning and development opportunities. Save the first year question for the less senior team members who interview you.
- Use your social and emotional intelligence. Be cognizant of verbal or body language that communicates to you that the interview is wrapping up or concluding.
Interviews are conversations. Conversations that can help you learn more about the company and the role for which you are applying. By taking time to develop thoughtful questions, you can advance your knowledge and gain insight about the organization, while also helping you stand out in the interview process.
©2017 – All Content and Photography by Saeed H. Mirfattah, M.A.
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