One of the big pieces of advice I keep hearing in the job search community is that a candidate should, at the end of an interview, ask about any concerns or reservations that interviewers might have, especially the critical decision-maker, the hiring manager.
On one hand, this is certainly something that needs to be in the mix. If there are concerns this is an excellent chance to address them on-the-spot, and not let them linger, fester, or worst of all, take root and grow in a person’s mind. But my own thought has been that asking any question that could call to mind something negative about you forces a hiring manager to have to think of something negative. Even if they come back with “No, I can’t think of anything”, they’re going to have that question ringing in their ears and reverberating in their consciousness – “What’s negative?”… not a thought you want to risk being in an interviewer’s mind when they leave the room.
So it’s a conundrum: a candidate should definitely identify – and ideally squelch – any lingering objections to their being hired, but how does one find out without bringing their interviewer’s mind around to negative points?
I had commented on an article, How Interviewers Know When to Hire You in 90 Seconds [INFOGRAPHIC], where I wrote to the effect of what I said above. Someone replied to me – what they said was not, however, what prompted this essay. It was a comment right below, by a commenter with the twitter handle of @FrankO, that I’d missed before when I’d first looked at the article:
I’ve used this many times “Do you feel that I’m a fit for what you’re looking for?” Very basic!
They may say “well, yes, but I’m looking for someone that has experience with (lets say) powerpoint”. You can then say “Well, I’m proficient, and I have used it in many school presentations, and other jobs. However, it was never a part of my daily duties therefore I didn’t put it on the resume”. This exact one happened to me once, and I got that job.
Wow! Consider the enormous power of a question like this.
First, it’s not negative, it’s positive. You’re talking about whether you fit, not why you shouldn’t. After all, if you’re there, face to face, based on your resume they probably think you could do the job – or they wouldn’t be wasting their time with you. At least half of the purpose of an interview is not your raw qualification for the job – certainly a part of the equation – but to see if they believe they could work with you on a regular basis. Your ability to do the job plus your ability to integrate into the team equals your being hired into the company.
Second, it avoids “objection”, or “negative”, or “concern”, or any other word that could create a thumbs-down connotation in a person’s mind. If they do have a concern, this avoids tying it with any negative word explicitly.
Third, it offers a way for them to answer you, so that you can address them then and there – the strength of the whole thing.
So if they raise something that’s a doubt, you have the chance then and there to answer it. And if they say “Yes, I think there’s a potential fit here” you can then enthuse about the job, how excited you are, and lead in to “I’m so glad to hear you think I’ve got strong potential – what are the next steps?”
And there’s another powerful trick – you get them thinking about you in the role. When an employer can envision you doing the job, and especially if you used Ask The Headhunter’s methodology of reinventing the interview to outline what and how you’d do the job while you’re there talking with them, you can stand head-and-shoulders above any other candidate.
Objections to your candidacy for a job need to be addressed and answered. By using a sum-things-up question about fit, job seekers can coax up lingering doubts and answer them – without using any negative words or having the specific idea of seeking negatives resonating in an interviewer’s mind.
That deserves another “Wow!”
© 2014, David Hunt, PE