By Stephanie Clark
From time to time we hear of a new “bad” interview question that someone came up with. One of my clients reported being asked “If you were an animal, what would you be?” Completely taken aback, he unfortunately replied, “a crocodile.” Given that he didn’t receive an offer, I imagine that the company didn’t value the animal’s predatory nature! But every once in a while we hear of great questions, too.
Recently I came across these two: "How will you add value to this company?" and "How are you involved in professional development?" Beautifully phrased, appropriately positioned questions. Here’s why I feel that these are truly key. When asked how he will add value, the candidate is afforded an opportunity to expound on the value he demonstrated in past employs by talking about how past employers benefited from his pertinent-to-the-job skills. The candidate would build his reply by drawing correlations to the position and company at hand. A strategically crafted response would incorporate credentials, key words and phrases and appropriate jargon, and knowledge of the company applied to, while sharing actual examples of accomplishments that solved problems, demonstrated critical thinking, saved money, showcased a good fit ... the list is endless!
By inquiring about professional development, the candidate’s commitment to her field of choice, passion for the work, desire for self-improvement, and openness to change is clear. A well-prepared candidate will share examples of how she incorporated new knowledge into the work place, and especially the tangible benefits these changes realized. When you enjoy what you do, you eagerly look for ways to advance your knowledge, or places to connect with like-minded colleagues, all of which can and should lead to business-improving strategies at work. After all, development is key in business: without change, in the form of improvements or innovation, business stagnates.
There are many similar questions that tend to skirt the issues or are oblique in meaning. These two questions clearly and purposefully nail the issues behind hiring: value added hires that fit the company and make sense for future growth. If your interviewer doesn’t ask these questions, look for ways to incorporate the answers to stand out as the top-shelf candidate!