Turn the Tables on Your Next Interview

Author: Angela Campiere       

Trying to sort through all of the interview advice dispensed in books and online can be even more stressful than the actual interview process itself, but we found one book that has a solid strategy to help you ace each and every interview. Instead of memorizing answers to the thousands of potential interview questions that could come your way, Bill Burnett, author of The Peak Interview, recommends creating personal “peaks.” These are moments for you to stand out from your competition by giving your interviewer the opportunity to imagine you as a part of the company’s team. It only takes a few questions to make that happen.

Step 1: Ask Hypothetical Questions

Once you’re in a good rhythm with your interview, ask your interviewer a hypothetical question in which you are the subject so they can see you in the role. This can be something as simple as: “Let’s say I’m the ideal candidate for this position. What qualities would I possess?” This type of question allows your interviewer to tell you more about the job function and what they’re looking for in a candidate, and it subconsciously puts your face in an otherwise anonymous role.

As the conversation moves along, turn it back to you as the hypothetical employee and ask something along the lines of: “Let’s flash forward a year from now — it’s time for my performance review and I’ve been doing an amazing job. What does that look like and what have I accomplished?” This type of question not only further cements you in the interviewer’s mind as part of the company’s future team, but also gets him or her to imagine you as an integral part of the company’s culture.

Step 2: Get Them Talking About Themselves

End the interview on a high note by getting your interviewer to talk about him or herself. On average, people spend about 60 percent of the time in a conversation talking about themselves because it feels good, according to recent research. So getting interviewers chatting about themselves will leave them with a positive emotional memory of their time with you. Tell your interviewer that you want to work for a place where you can grow and contribute to the organization’s efforts, and then transition the conversation over to him or her. Ask a question like, “You obviously have been successful to get where you are — can you tell me about something significant you did at work that you’re proud of?” The essential component to this part of the interview process is to not interrupt — listen to what they have to say. You’ll leave a good impression and you might even learn a thing or two about what success looks like at that organization.

The beauty of this strategy is that it can be applied beyond the standard interview process. Use hypothetical and “tell me about you” questions during your next networking function to make an impression on colleagues (and potential future employers). They’ll walk away with more than just your business card.

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