Taking a Compass Reading in the Interview

Fire off this question as an interview begins:

"It is very nice to meet you. Before we begin, I was wondering if you could tell me a little about the position you are looking to fill."

As a candidate, beginning an interview, if you ask this question of the hiring manager it may provide you with a last minute job description that will provide you with a directional bearing on the conversation.

The hiring manager is the person with the problem and is therefore directly involved in the hire. This is the person with the pain of the position being unfilled. If any changes to the job description have taken place, this is when they will be presented. As a candidate, you could be informed of them just before the questioning begins. This can be cathartic.

Sashaying into an interview thinking you clearly understand what is required here is a bit overbearing. When interviewing, the old saying "when you assume you make an ass/ of /u/ (and) /me" is never more clear in any business meeting then this one. And walking into an interview without knowing anything about the company is unprofessional. But in the interest of making the interview a productive experience for both parties, inquiring as to the bullet points of the position just before the meeting begins is responsible.

As the hiring manager describes the position, listen for excitement or frustration. The first thing described will often be the most important or challenging task of the position. The description given by the hiring manager may be only a few sentences but it will give you direction on how to answer questions.

As you hear the position described, you may hear an emphasis on business development as a requirement for the position. If this is strength of yours, the answers given will be modified to emphasize this point. Some hiring manages are skilled in management and their trade, but are poor interviewers. Asking the hiring authority to describe the position helps clarify the objective to both of you and sets the course for the conversation.

The technique must be done with great tact. Avoid giving the impression that, as a candidate, you are trying to take over the interview with questions. With a gentle, practiced tone and smile you can deliver this question with an aura of excitement, avoiding the feeling of effrontery.

With the proper information delivered to you fresh from the 'horse's mouth', the responses you give will be tailored to emphasis the strengths that you have developed and give you the floor to tell how you would use them, where you developed them, and how you can now help this organization.

What is the most important responsibility to take on in the position? How much time will I have to accomplish this? What are the tools I will have at my disposal? What's the upside, or the reward? Is there advancement in this company? How long will it take to achieve it? What will be my greatest challenge when I accept these responsibilities? Listen without expectation, but way back in your mind, you may hear the answers to all of these questions in the brief statement about the job by the person in charge of the position.

At the conclusion of the question, smile and expect to be qualified. There will be a series of questions that will unveil your background, experience, and accomplishments. The hiring manager must now also determine if you are motivated to take the position if it were offered to you and he isn't even sure you are right for the job yet.

Answering the questions with your skilled answers will enhance your ability to win the hiring team over to you side. But this comes with practice.

Jim Finucan is a career recruiter and the author of the book Interview Strategy: The Next Move is Yours. Find it on Amazon https://goo.gl/3z9W2y

To Your Success,
Jim Finucan