Behavioral interviewing tip #10: Ask questions (part 2/2)

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Key Corporate Services says: Ask questions during the interview process of everyone you meet.In our last post, we stressed the importance of asking questions during the interview. In this post, I’ll talk about which kinds of questions to ask–and which to avoid. And I’ll also provide a tip that could potentially save your candidacy with an employer.

Last time, I talked about “intrinsic motivation”: this is motivation that comes from within, not from getting paid a good salary or even from getting praise for work well done. You join a company and just want to make a positive difference. In the world of work, that means solving problems, helping the company do what it does better, or helping it do new things well.

Even if the hiring manager does not have this exact term in mind, this is what he or she wants to see during the interview. You demonstrate this by asking questions. Of course, not just any question will demonstrate intrinsic motivation to do the job. Thus…

Don’t ask the following kinds of questions:

  • What will my salary and benefits be?
  • How long will it take me to advance to the next level?
  • How much traveling will I do?
  • Tell me more about your relocation package.

And so on. Avoid questions about what you’re going to get. Eventually, if the company is interested in hiring you, these questions will be important and appropriate during the negotiation process. For now, however…

Do ask the following kinds of questions:

  • What about the position you’re trying to fill keeps you up at night?
  • What are the big challenges facing your company right now?
  • What do you see as the big challenges facing your industry right now?
  • What opportunities, if pursued, would help you grow revenue and profit?

Of course, there are all kinds of specific questions about the industry or the company that you may want to ask. The point is to demonstrate that you are eager to dive in, get your hands dirty, and help the company do big and important things. You really want to make a difference.

Nor are we advising you simply to fake that kind of motivation. To the contrary, without intrinsic motivation, you probably won’t be good at the job. Nevertheless, by asking the wrong questions or failing to ask the right ones, even candidates with strong intrinsic motivation can appear selfish or indifferent. It’s crucial that you don’t appear that way.

Now here is the big tip that could very well save your candidacy:

Ask questions of every person you speak with, even if they are the same questions.

For executive positions, you are likely to be interviewed by a substantial number of people–all of whom need to buy in on your candidacy in order for you to get the job. We have had candidates feel, probably with good reason, that all their questions had been answered before they had met all of their interviewers. But then they did not ask questions during their final interviews and made a bad impression on those final interviewers–and didn’t get the job!

This is a horrible way for a good candidate to miss out on an opportunity. So please ask questions of–and demonstrate intrinsic motivation to–everyone you meet at a prospective employer.

The Key Corporate Services Blog Team
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