Andrew Sobel’s new book Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others, is a must read for ANYONE looking for a job.
I asked Andrew to prepare a piece to educate job hunters on the correct use of questions in an interview after watching a perfectly good execute loose an incredible opportunity because she could not engage the selection board during an interview.
While she was being recruited by my team she asked ALL the appropriate questions but during the face-to-face interview with the client she adopted, what I can only describe as a subservient position, during the interview and failed to engaged the selection committee.
The policy at my executive search firm Perry-Martel International prohibits “preparing” candidates for an interview. I adopted this policy 23 years ago to insure that our clients interviewed the ‘real’ candidate and not one who had been propped up by a smart recruiter. The policy has worked well for my clients even though it makes it more difficult for us during the search.
It’s in your best interest – guerrilla – to read and act on the advice that follows from Andrew. It’s absolutely consistent with everything we teach in Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters. A sound question strategy will set you apart from other candidates. I have no doubt the interview would have concluded differently had she read this book.
Andrew Sobel is coauthor of the newly-released Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others.
If you talk to recruiters and executives who are actively hiring, they will tell you that there are three types of questions they get: None, bad ones, and—very rarely—memorable ones. And the candidates who ask the memorable ones are often the ones they make offers to. “You’d be surprised,” a recruiter for a fast-growing technology company told me, “how many job candidates have absolutely no questions for me at all, or, they ask dumb or boring questions like ‘so what do you do?’”
You want a recruiter or executive who interviews you to tell a colleague afterwards, “I had a great conversation with that candidate. He had really thought a lot about our business.” That’s what gets you the callback. And good questions are the way you create a thought-provoking, value-added conversation.
First, avoid these types of questions in a job interview:
- Informational questions. Don’t take up a manager’s time asking “How much vacation will I get?” Get the basic information you need before you go in for an interview.
- Closed-ended questions. If someone can give a “yes” or “no” answer, it diminishes your prospects for having a good conversation.
- “Me” questions. An executive is interested in how you will add value to her organization and whether or not you’re a good fit. Skip questions like “I skydive every Saturday—so will I ever be asked to work weekends?”
Here are the kinds of questions you should be asking in a job interview:
- Credibility-building questions: “As I think back to my experience in managing large sales forces, I’ve found there are typically three barriers to breakthrough sales performance: Coordination of the sales function with marketing and manufacturing; customer selection; and product quality. I’m curious, what would you say are the main factors that have been responsible for your own lack of sales growth?”
- “Why?” questions: “Why did you close down your parts businesses rather than try to find a buyer for it?” or “Why did you decide to move from a functional to a product-based organization structure?”
- Personal understanding questions: “I understand you joined the organization five years ago. With all the growth you’ve had, how do you find the experience of working here now compared to when you started?
- Passion questions: What do you love most about working here?
- Value-added advice questions: “Have you considered creating an online platform for your top account executives from around the world to share success stories and collaborate around key client opportunities? We implemented such a concept a year ago and it’s been very successful.”
- Future-oriented questions: “You’ve achieved large increases in productivity over the last three years. Where do you believe future operational improvements will come from?”
- Aspiration questions: “As you look ahead to the next couple of years, what are the potential growth areas that people are most excited about in the company?”
- Organizational culture questions: “What are the most common reasons why new hires don’t work out here?”
- Decision-making questions: If were to arrive at two final candidates with equal experience and skills, how would you choose one over the other?
- Company strengths-and-weaknesses questions: “Why do people come to work for you rather than a competitor? And then, “why do you think they stay?”
If you want to be noticed by recruiters, don’t talk more—ask better questions.
Andrew Sobel’s new book is called Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others. It contains over 300 power questions that will help you deepen your relationships and navigate your toughest conversations.
Andrew Sobel helps companies and individuals build clients for life. He is the most widely published author in the world on the topic of business relationships, and his bestselling books include Power Questions, All for One, Making Rain, and Clients for Life.All for One was recently voted one of the top 10 sales and marketing books of the decade. His clients include many of the world’s leading companies such as Citigroup, Hess, Ernst & Young, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cognizant, Deloitte, Experian, Lloyds Banking Group, Bain & Company, and many others. Andrew’s articles and work have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, US Today, strategy+business, and the Harvard Business Review. He spent 15 years at Gemini Consulting where he was a Senior Vice President and Country Chief Executive Officer, and for the last 15 years he has led his own consulting firm, Andrew Sobel Advisors.
He can be reached at http://www.andrewsobel.com
Þ Read about Power Questions and Watch the Video
Power Questions is a No. 1 Amazon Bestseller among New Business and Leadership books
Obviously I don’t mean jumping up and down and doing a raw-raw sis-boom-bah chant but I do mean turning in your best effort AND asking for the job at the end.
Just the other day I witnessed a candidate not get an opportunity because the employer didn’t think they where all that interested OR at least, not as interested as another candidate.
When I asked what the employer meant by that statement [because the prospective candidate had professed his interest to me - very enthusiastically after the interview] the employer explained it like this. The choice between who would be the next VP of Sales for this company literally came down to a coin toss – the talent match was that close. They had two outstanding individuals to choose from and they literally could not make up their mind. What broke the tie? “The younger candidate seemed to want it more’” my client said.
When I asked him how he came to that conclusion he said that Candidate A said when he was leaving the client office for the airport, “I had a great day and it appears we both have a lot to think about.” Seems innocent enough doesn’t it.
Whereas Candidate B said, “I’m glad you invited me down to meet the rest of the management team because I’m even more convinced now that this is the right opportunity for me”. Now, in truth neither had made up their mind that it was indeed the right opportunity BUT the second one closed the deal and told the client they where interested – very interested, whereas the first was non-committal. Can you see the difference?
Let me explain it another way. Perhaps this has happened to you. Could be it’s just me again.
Do you remember the awkward moment when you told someone you loved them for the first time? If – as was the case with me – their face contorted with â€œan oh no – what do I say now, expression then you appreciate the awkward emotional vacuum I’m talking about.
Well let me tell you, employers experience the same thing. After courting a candidate for weeks or months there’s nothing worse for them than telling a candidate “we love you” or “you’re our top pick” only to have them say… “I have to think about this…”. It’s like NOT saying I love you too! And believe me it matters. I know. I know it’s not just about what the employer wants BUT remember the first Rule of Job Hunting it’s not about you.
How might this have been avoided? Bottom line is this guerrilla. You have the right to do your due diligence on the employer at your own pace. It would be nice if it matched their pace
but likely it won’t.
Know this, you never and I mean never ever let them see you’re still thinking about it. It doesn’t strengthen your bargaining position to play hard to get BEFORE YOU GET THE OFFER.
In front of the employer you should always be “in love”. You close and close and close until you get the offer then hopefully you tell them what they want to hear. AND this applies at all levels. In this instance it was a $300K position. I’m used to seeing this at the 50-80k level and not in executives but as I said it doesn’t take much to tip the decision in the other guys favor. So moral of the story is do your do diligence behind the scenes as you go through the process and don’t forget to tell them you love them too even if you’re not 100% sure yet.
You have to close the interviewer at every stage.
They aren’t mind readers… neither was my girl friend a the time – BUT I DIGRESS. Tell them you want them. Be sincere! Negotiate the package AFTER you get their first offer. Focus son getting the offer!
What do you think? Learn anything new? Could this have helped you get the last offer you didn’t?
- David Perry, co-author Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters
Managing Partner, Perry-Martel International Inc.
Phone interviews have become standard fair in this job market. I could write a book on it BUT thanks to Peter Clayton I don't have to and you don't have to wait. Peter's just recorded a fantastic informative pod cast with Paul Bailo. Click over now to TotalPicture.com and listen for youself.
Several of the totally new job search tips from the Guerrilla Job Search System.
Sometimes FREE is good – especially if you're job hunting – but in ZoomInfo's case it's absolutely essential.
People that know me well and understand how the recruiting and search business function know why I'm a HUGE fan of ZoomInfo. It works. It makes my life simpler by doing the upfront grunt research work involved in every search project faster and in a lot of cases more meaningful.
ZoomInfo makes gathering a long list of potential candidates blindingly fast. Now our database is 2.2 M strong [which rivals the largest search firms] but ZoomInfo's is 42M. Cross referencing our info with theirs helps us start every search on a solid foundation.
Why should you care as a candidate? If you're not found in the research phase of a search you'll very likely never be called. The search project will be completed before you even know it's happening. It doesn't take the "art" out of the recruiting process but it sure adds a depth of rigure to the science of sourcing.
So listen to Peter Clayton's pod cast and you'll understand why need to be in ZoomInfo if you value your career. Did i mention it's FREE? Who cares! Some day ZoomInfo may wake up and start charging for this. In the meantime click quiockly over to ZoomInfo.com .