The best thing you can say in a job interview

In this competitive job marketing, even getting an interview can be difficult. People apply for an average of five jobs to be called for an interview. So once you’ve met a potential employer in person, it’s important to stand out from the crowd and make it clear you’re the right person for the job.

But how? We’ve already written about how you can convey competence and confidence with the questions you ask versus the ones you answer. Insightful questions can show that you have some knowledge of the company and you are already thinking about how you can contribute to it. They can lead to out-of-the-ordinary conversations that take your interview to the next level in the employer’s mind and make you more memorable than the competition.

But not all questions are the same. In fact, there is one question that is the best and can easily be changed in other areas. I first found out about this while we were hiring a content producer. This was for an editorial website that reached several million Canadians every month. Our topic was broad, covering news, technology, trends, and even a little pop culture.

The applicant was competent, but insignificant, until I asked her if she had any questions for me. Here’s what she said that won her the job:

“Your stories are timely and relevant, your headlines are great, but the Canadian Internet audience for content like this is much bigger than your readers – who are you not reaching and why?”

This led to a conversation about our approaches to content delivery, the things we had tried, and our plans for the future. Social media was becoming a powerful force at the time, it had some follow-up questions about what we were doing and made some great tips for using it in innovative ways to connect with new people.

Before the interview ended, he already had the job. I literally can’t remember the discussions I had with other potential candidates.

Here’s why it worked: he posed the question by showing that he already knew what we were doing (and praised us), he said he knew and thought about the target market (potential audience traffic for a site like ours us) – and asked the key question: who do you not reach and why? He wanted to know the challenges of the role and how to deal with them.

The same question could be adapted to whatever industry you are applying for. Who doesn’t shop / lunch / visit here now, and why not? Who doesn’t use your product or service and why?

Show you the interview and think about the future. You’ve seen potential growth for the company and want to know how you can help it get to that next level.

It is important, of course, to be prepared for the standard job interview questions you know you will be asked and practice describing your work experience and past achievements in relevant terms. But in the questions you ask, not the ones you answer, you can really stand out from the crowd.


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