Let’s picture this. You were on a first date. Enjoyed the dinner and came home.
Your Mom welcomed you and asked, “Who paid for dinner?”
What did she want to ask here? She was not interested to know the person’s name.
She was keen to know whether the person you dated was a giver or taker.
So, there was the question behind the question.
Similarly, when you meet the interviewer, they try to uncover whether you’re the right fit for the job through plotted questions.
Therefore, it is important that you go behind the scenes of such questions. Only then, you will be able to address them in your favor.
1. Tell Me About Yourself
The Question Behind The Question: Tell Me Why You’re the ONE for This Job
Imagine yourself in an interview room, your interviewer has already reviewed your CV and cover letter. And that’s the reason you are in the room.
Would it work if you pick your employment history and explode? A big no.
Then, what should one do instead?
Pitch your unique selling proposition. A pitch that’s short, snappy and to the point, and tells the interviewer exactly why you are the one for this job.
Pick 2 to 3 key accomplishments and share them.
Use stories because they have the visual power and sell better.
For example, you can say:
“My mentor told me that selling is about listening, and since then I’ve integrated this approach to sell more and more. For instance, I closed the deals with Fortune 500 companies, generating ~$120K in recurring annual revenue.”
Once you’ve figured out your pitch, accomplishment and story. Blend them together. Record your answer and then listen to it. This way you will know whether your pitch was engaging and conveyed the most important point.
2. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
The Question Behind The Question: Do You Care About Our Work?
Interviewer does not want to know your future financial status, or whether you will be driving a lamborghini in the next five years.
It’s the interviewer’s job to select the ONE who is passionate for the job. Because when you have a passion for something, work does not look like work.
And another factor that’s huge for the interviewer is to uncover how long would you be willing to stay with the new job. Because hiring someone is an investment. Interviewer does want job hoppers around.
I get it. Tell me how can I answer this one?
Let’s say, you are interviewing for a sales manager position at an FMCG firm, and you know your goal is to become a regional sales manager. You have a valid information to share.
When you share your aspirations of becoming a regional sales manager, you show that the position you are interviewing for is in line with your goals.
Another way to answer this is by sharing how this job will help you improve upon a particular skill.
To cut the story short, your response should show why this company is a good fit for you.
3. Do You Have Any Questions for Us?
The Question Behind The Question: Have You Really Been Listening?
I have no questions. Seriously?
If that’s the case. You have shot yourself in the foot.
You must ask questions. Why?
Because the more you ask, the better the chances of creating a connection with the interviewer (However, ask personal questions at your peril.).
Because you’ll have to protect yourself, too. It’s your responsibility to uncover whether a job or this company is the right fit for you.
Here’s what you can ask:
- What do the day-to-day responsibilities of the role look like?
- What are the company’s values? What characteristics do you look for in employees in order to represent those values?
- What’s your favorite part about working at the company?
- What does success look like in this position, and how do you measure it?
- What do you see as the most challenging aspect of this job?
- What drew you to work for this organization?
- What advice would you give to someone in this role?
The above guide is there to help you understand the questions behind the question, so that, you can be better prepared. Remember, there’s no right answer to an interview question.
When you understand the intention of interviewers behind the questions, the equation will favor you.
While I don’t recommend reciting the same response for every interview question, I do recommend opening up to various questions, visualizing the why behind the questions, and what it takes to show that you’re the right person for the job.