What Are They Asking…Really?

Interview Questions – there are 64.4 million Google hits and 29,805 book results on Amazon.  How can there possibly be anything more to say on such a topic?  There is an entire industry, and apparently a sizeable one at that, built around the idea of interview questions and answers.  The book titles are priceless – 96, 101, 250, 301, and the trump card 501+ Interview Questions.  The simple fact is that every single question you will ever face in an interview is nothing more than a fancy way of asking “why should I hire you”.

We have heard it countless times over the years from a host of folks – “what are they really asking”, or “I was not sure what they were after”, or my personal favorite “I think I answered their questions”.  It is absolutely critical that one realize that for a company, the purpose of an interview is to find the best possible person to fill a particular role.  The company needs someone to help them be more productive, to generate business, to increase efficiencies, to lead their people to greater heights.  As a candidate, the purpose of the interview is to demonstrate that you are the answer to their needs – you are the best possible person for them to hire.  Covertly you will be evaluating the fit, but every overt action, story, and behaviour should be focused on reinforcing the message that you are the answer to their need.

It is not about the stories you want to tell, it is about the stories they want to hear.  And what they want to hear is why you are the best possible person to address their particular need.  In short, why adding you to the team will make the overall organization better.  Simple really, but the message is too often lost in all of the surrounding noise, in the fancy packaging and in all of the positioning and gamesmanship.  The interviewer is asking a very basic question over and over.  Are you providing them the answer every single time is the real issue.  A simple question demands simple answers.

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