Do you have any questions for me?

The only part of an interview where I hold my breath is the part that follows, Do you have any questions for me?

My expectations have always been low because all job search experts are using the same playbook to answer this one (although questions likes these renew my faith in the intelligent jobseeker) and the answers are almost always of Mad Libs quality.

  • Could you explain the company’s organizational structure? A house of cards…
  • What attracted you to working for this organization? They hired me…
  • From all I can see, I’d really like to work here, and I believe I can add considerable value to the company. What’s the next step in the selection process? You need to define value…
  • How do my skills compare with those of the other candidates you have interviewed? You asked me the same questions…
  • How are executives addressed by their subordinates? Your eminence…

At this point in the interview, most candidates simply want to exhale – rather than pull away from the field. Bad move. You need to separate yourself even more before the interview is over. In crew parlance, it’s time for a power ten…

I realize that for many the business and the balance sheet are foreign lands but I assure you that when people I interview come prepared to talk the industry, competitors, barriers, and opportunities, my job becomes more exciting. I mean it – when we can talk about business rather than a job, it is enriching for all.

The use of standard questions and approaches to interviews – and to a large degree the approach to job search in general – is predicated on the business environment remaining static. Hardly. 2009 and I suspect the next few years as well, will see a very different business landscape, one in which the status quo will become caught in time like a mosquito in amber. The actual problems people will be tasked with solving will directly relate to identifying growth opportunities that will trump weakened or less focused competitors. The key is for you to know as best as possible the answers to these questions; to the extent that the hiring manager doesn’t know these is indicative of how well the company may perform. Just as in real life caveat emptor…

  • What companies are gaining and losing market share and how are you positioning yourself to address opportunities?
  • Which company is bundling products and services in new ways?
  • Which companies are creating buzz that has made you take notice?
  • Which companies are viewed as marginal players and how have you positioned yourself to seek and destroy? Is it you?
  • Are you increasing your R&D budget? Is this increase customer driven or is it to play catch-up?
  • What innovative new products and services are you planning to bring to market over the next 18 months?

You have to finish strong. You had me at hello is lovely for movies but I’m assessing our entire time together.

Please – just don’t ask me to describe benefits on the initial interview. If this is the best you can do, then keep sending out emails addressed to “Dear Sir or Madam”…

Thx @MNHeadhunter


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