In Part One of Overcoming the 2 Greatest Job Changing Challenges, I highlighted what I consider those challenges to be and how to overcome the first (self-awareness related to your career).
In this post, let’s address overcoming the second challenge related to eliciting information from the potential employer to determine if the employer can satisfy your (self-awareness) needs.
Simply uncovering what you need to know is difficult enough. For good measure, let’s toss in an overworked, very-distracted, untrained interviewer with a dash of ok-let’s-wrap-up-this-interview-session-in-under-an-hour, and your odds of getting all the information you need to make a sound career decision are no better than winning the lottery.
Job-seekers can overcome this job changing challenge using one phrase
Well, technically, this challenge comes with three issues to overcome—yours, the interviewer’s, and Father Time. We need a formula to address all of them for the short duration of your job interview.
The first issue regarding you can be addressed well before you get to the interview! Evaluate yourself and thoroughly document your needs and use that information to formulate your questions. Part one of this blog posting indicates the top 12 areas most people need. Use that as a starting point.
The second and third issues related to the interviewer and time constraints respectively, could be handled using the same technique once you understand why these issues occur.
First, the interviewer is not a mind reader!
Second, you have limited time to extract your information!
Regarding the former, the interviewer will make assumptions regarding your rationale for asking a question. It’s n-a-t-u-r-a-l for her to do so—so it’s your responsibility and to your benefit to help her avoid this. The interviewer will rarely pause to ensure she completely understands your intent before answering (even though a simple “Why do you want to know that?” would remove any confusion). At this point, you’re not only concerned with her understanding you, but also need to ensure she avoids wasting your precious minutes providing irrelevant insight (as it relates to your needs) by not answering your intent.
You can remediate both of these challenges by clearly articulating the reason why you’d like to know something. Once you do this, you’re directing the interviewer straight to the information you need. Let’s review with an example.
If you pose a question such as, “Can you please describe your customer portfolio?” the interviewer might assume you’d like to know whether the company has a balanced customer base showing financial diversity and stability. What if you’re actually interested in understanding the company’s customer portfolio because you want to know where you might need to commute to visit those customers?
This issue can be avoided simply by properly directing the interviewer to what you need and why you need it. There are obviously several ways to ask this that will accomplish your goal. A simple, “Where would I need to commute to support the customers,” will certainly do it. Rarely, however, is the information so clean cut, so I recommend an extra layer that removes any doubt.
Asking, “Can you please describe your customer portfolio so I can get a feel for where I’ll need to commute to support those customers?” helps direct the interviewer to why you want to know that.
One helpful clause to remember as you’re asking your job interview questions is, “and the reason I’d like to know is…” That single phase, or something that provides the interviewer with clarity regarding your intent, will go a long way in helping you gather the insight you need in the shortest amount of time.
I’ve written several pieces that will help improve your communication during an interview. While my book, Interview Intervention: Communication That Gets You Hired shares many helpful hints, you can also review a number of previous blog posts titled Improve Your Interview Communication Using the “Three Knows,” Raise Your CQ (Communication Quotient) to Improve Your Decision Making, and Are Your Stories Memorable.
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