Want a tip to skew conversations in your favour? Ask questions!
The person asking the question holds the power
When you ask a question, you’re in charge of the conversation, at least for a bit. That’s because we are, for the most part, conditioned to answer a person’s question.
(There are a few exceptions to the rule. Teenagers, for instance, seem conditioned to pretend not to hear a question. And politicians are media trained to stay in control of the conversation by nodding at a query, and then not actually answering it. But otherwise, we mostly try to tell someone what they ask to know.)
To build a persuasive case, ask probing questions.
At The Bagg Group, we suggest candidates ask these 3 probing questions during job interviews.
In keeping with the theme of this blog, we’ll clarify our thinking on why these are powerful queries.
1- Can you tell me what you liked about my background that led you to select me as a candidate?
This question asks the interviewer to consider your strengths.
- It reminds/ confirms to the interviewer that they’ve already decided that you’re a good candidate.
- It has the interviewer articulate the reasons why you are of interest to the company.
- Instead of passively listening to you talk about your strengths, the interviewer becomes an active participant in the conversation.
It’s hard for any of us to be sure of capturing a person’s full attention when we speak and they’re sitting back. It’s human nature to sometimes listen with one ear, while we think of other things. That’s why it’s useful to ask a question that turns the tables and forces the other person to talk about you, rather than just listen!
2- Can you tell me your vision for the ideal candidate for this position?
Information is power, and this question serves up lots of good info.
- The question gives you the inside track on what the hiring manager cares about first and foremost, in terms of qualities and abilities.
- The answer may include attributes they couldn’t mention in the job posting, such as “diplomacy” or “the ability to help a distracted manager stay on track,” or “reassuring skittish clients.”
- When you hear their answer, you can address their needs.
3- What do you like about working for your company?
It may sound like an casual question, but it’s a very smart one.
- It energizes your interviewer to sell their company to you and talk about their experiences, rather than to be the one who is listening all the time to you selling yourself.
- With this question, you show interest in the interviewer and their company for a more positive interaction.
- You can learn things about the company culture that can help you decide if you’re a fit.
It goes without saying that the spotlight is on you in the interview and you have to talk about what you bring to the table. But it’s not easy for an interviewer to always be on the listening end.
All the recruiters and managers at Bagg Pro, Bagg Technology Resources, Bagg @ Your Service, Bagg Managed Resources and Turn Key Staffing are known for being highly skilled in active listening. It’s one of the reasons why we lead the industry in kudos from candidates and clients for our service.
But listening is critical for us to do our jobs well. We just couldn’t make the right matches to successfully place people in full-time jobs, contract and temporary work without paying very close attention to what people want, need, and can do.
However, hiring managers who interview you have all kinds of other demands and pulls on their attention. They have a lot going on at any given time, and interviewing candidates to fill a position is just one aspect of what they do. So asking them questions is a sure way to keep them engaged.
Plus, we can’t say it enough, questions show interest, curiosity, and a learning mindset that hiring managers want to see. For good reason. As Lou Holtz, a former football player and author of Wins, Losses, and Lessons writes, “I never learn anything talking, I only learn things when I ask questions.”