Picture this: The job interview is (almost) over.
You’ve answered all their questions..
You’ve jumped through all their hoops.
You’ve taken all their tests, assessments and personality profiles.
Meanwhile, your brain hurts from over thinking. Your butt is numb from over sitting. And by now, you’ve managed to sweat right through that crisp, new white shirt you bought just for today.
“Just hire me already!” You think.
Not so fast. There’s still one thing left to do:
Walk out of that interview in a blaze of glory.
Today I’m going to teach you a job-hunting strategy that will instantly make you more approachable; hireable; employable; promotable; buyable; bookable; unforgettable; and, most importantly, call-back-able.
And all of it hinges on your ability to respond effectively to one of the most common (yet one of the most under leveraged) interview questions:
“So, do you have any questions for me?”
Prospective employers almost always ask this one – especially at the end of the interview. And most job-hunting books, interviewing resources and career coaches will advise you to respond with intelligent, creative questions such as:
- Why is this position vacant?
- Do you promote from within?
- Do you have a formal training program?
- What are the future goals of the company?
- How will I know that I have met your goals?
- Why did you choose to work for this company?
- How would you describe your company’s culture?
- How will my performance be evaluated, and how often?
- What is the average work week of the person who will fill this job?
- Will I be hearing from you or should I contact you?
Those are great questions. They’re smart, focused and goal-oriented.
There’s only one problem: Everybody else asks them, too.
And that instantly eliminates the probability of standing out.
Here’s the reality
The less boring and normal you are – and the more rules to which you are the exception – the more hireable you will become.
So, try this: Next time your interviewer asks, “So, do you have any questions for me?” I triple-dog-dare you to answer with one of the following responses :
- Do you see any gaps in my qualifications that I need to fill?
- Are there any reasons I’m not fully qualified for this position?
- Is there anything I’ ve said today that might hurt my chances of being hired here?
- Now that you’ve had a chance to meet and interview me, what reservations would you have in putting me in this position?
- What have I accidentally said or done during today’s interview that’s inconsistent with your perfect candidate for this job?
Here’s why this strategy works:
You put the interviewer on the spot. After all, you’re not the only one being interviewed here. So, turning the tables in this manner helps you maintain power because – contrary to popular conditioning – the listener controls.
You prove counterintuitive thinking. I don’t care if you’re applying to work the night clean up shift at Reggie’s Roadkill Cafe – employers love people who think this way. Not just someone who “is” unexpected – but someone who actually thinks unexpectedly.
You demonstrate openness to feedback. My great friend, Joe Rotskoff, HR manager at Crescent Plumbing Supply in St. Louis, was the person who first educated me on this interview approach. “The secret is twofold,” Rotskoff said. “First, you display openness to how others experience you. Second, you show a dedication to improving self-awareness. And that’s exactly the type of employee companies seek to hire in this tough economy.”
You exhibit dedication to personal improvement. Which makes you an employee who adds value to the net worth of her human capital – and, therefore, the net worth of the company’s assets – every day. Wow.
You close the sale. Job interviews are sales calls. Period. You’re selling the company on you, your skills and your long-term potential as a valued asset to the team. So, when you ask closer questions like these, you’re essentially “asking for the sale.” And you’re doing so in a professional, tactful, confident manner. How could they not say yes to you?
Now, here’s the worst thing that could happen
Let’s say you ask one of these questions. And let’s say the prospective employer (unfortunately) responds with an answer that indicates you’ve done something wrong. Or missed the mark.. Or come up short in regards to the position.
Fantastic! You’ve just received specific feedback that you can leverage to add value to yourself and become more hireable in the future.
So, if this is the case for you, here’s my suggestion: Physically write down his response to your questions, right then and there. This demonstrates active listening and further reinforces your openness to feedback.
Then, when you write your thank-you note to the interviewer later that evening, be sure to:
1. Thank him again for the helpful feedback on your performance
2. Explain what your commitment plan is for remedying that inadequacy in the future. Hey, he might even change his mind after that!
But here’s the best thing that could happen
Picture this: The interviewer’s jaw hits the floor, his pen falls to the ground, and he stares at you like you just told him that his company was going to be featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.
Then, once he mops up the puddle of drool on your job application, he racks his brain trying to come up with an answer to your powerful question.
But he can’t find one.
Because there isn’t one.
Because you, my unemployed friend, are pretty amazing.
And you deserve this job a hundred times more than every other candidate who walked in the door before you.