Ask A Lot of Questions....
I submit that a well thought-out, relevant question is better then a good
answer. Well, okay … maybe not a GREAT answer. In any
case, relevant questions are critical in distinguishing yourself from the pack. By
asking good questions, you challenge your interviewer to THINK rather than
forcing them to reiterate the company line. Whenever you can cause
another human being to think, you will immediately create the perception of
What is a good relevant question?
A good, relevant question must demonstrate one or more of these attributes: attention,
intelligence, capability, motivation, and personality.
Attention: Unfortunately, this attribute is most often
overlooked … yet it is incredibly vital to success. For some
reason, individuals enter interviews with good questions and demonstrate some of
the attributes mentioned, but will fail to utilize the material being covered. In
my opinion, they are missing the "gimme" questions and are not
addressing the interviewers’ obvious hot buttons. YOU MUST UTILIZE
THE MATERIAL BEING COVERED. By asking a well thought-out question and
utilizing the material being discussed, you demonstrate an interest in and
attentiveness to each topic. Furthermore, your interviewer will be
convinced that you embody the principles or beliefs that they have set forth;
whether you do or not is irrelevant. Everyone wants to believe that
when they speak, others will agree with him or her and are “on board.” Use
your questions to demonstrate that you have been listening and are in agreement
with their principles.
Intelligence: As stated above, when you cause someone to
think, you create the perception of intelligence. Before you create
your question, think about what your interviewer’s response will be. Does
your question require reasoning, comparison, and analysis … or just
recitation? Form your questions so that your interviewer must draw on
their own experience and expertise before answering your question. For
Example: If you are applying for any sales positions, you could
ask the following: "What sales techniques have you found to be the most
successful for your current representatives? Are there any techniques
you have found to not work as well as others or have not yet been explored to
their full potential?" These are simple questions that make your
interviewer reason, compare, and analyze. But more importantly, what
do they do for you? These questions will demonstrate that you are
interested in learning about what works for the team, avoiding the mistakes made
by your predecessors, and learning the areas which your interviewer believes
could be improved upon. This would be one less thing they would need
to teach you after you’re hired. Make your interviewer think!
Capability: Capability is really tricky! You’re
either capable, or you're not. If you're applying for a Java
position, and all you know is Visual Basic, then you're not really capable. However,
that doesn't mean you're incapable of getting the job. All it
means is that your current strengths need to be expanded. Your
questions here must demonstrate that you’re capable of learning and becoming a
productive member of the organization quickly. Ask questions that
would show common themes to each developmental platform, while also
demonstrating your current knowledge of software development. If on
the other hand you are capable, don't forget to get that point across. Don't
rely on your resume to serve as your only recommendation. Ask
questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the development language and
prescribed practices or methodologies. Never assume that someone
thinks you're capable. Prove to them that you are capable by posing good
Motivation: Although I never uttered the phrase, "Is
their going to be extra credit" during school, I have since learned that in
interviews, the implied "extra effort" is an important selling tool. Your
questions should not only demonstrate your acceptance of the defined
responsibilities but they should also go beyond and address additional
opportunities. By acknowledging the defined responsibilities and
moving on to the additional opportunities, you remove any concerns held by your
interviewer about you addressing the most important areas. However, be
careful. You must demonstrate your motivation to meet the DEFINED
RESPONSIBILITIES before addressing your interest in additional opportunities. For
Example: If you are applying for a help desk position, you could
ask the following: "After I finish my shift, will there be an opportunity
for me to sit down with another help desk person and listen to how they assist
customers?” I know this sounds a little sappy, but I’m sure you
get the point. Ask questions that demonstrate your desire to meet
their current needs and beyond.
Personality: The cliché is still the best advice, be yourself.
But be yourself on a first date … your best self. Don't be afraid
to interject humor (if it’s applicable). Don't believe that the
only thing important to them is to learn about you … learn about them! Try
to smile and nod a lot. Cover the spectrum of positive emotions (i.e.
happy, funny, enthusiastic, sincere, etc.). Regardless of how your
interviewer acts, stay your course and continue on with the positive emotions. Ask
questions that would demonstrate positive emotions.
Make your interviewer THINK and you will make them THINK better of you!