The First Question You Need to Ask in an Interview

May 22, 2019

When we think of an interview, we presume the interviewer is the one asking all the questions.

When I interview a potential employee, I place more emphasis on the questions I'm asked by the person I am interviewing.

When interviewing for a new position, you should always be prepared with questions. The key, however, is to ask the right questions.

Asking your interviewer the right questions sets you apart in two ways. It demonstrates you are more interested in being an asset to the company rather than just landing a job. It also gives you more insight into the company, allowing you to determine if this is the right company for you.

There are three questions every person should consider asking when they interview. These questions should be asked of the highest-level individual interviewing you. It's important the candidate asks these questions to someone operating in the business.

Question #1: What are the greatest challenges facing your company, (or your team) right now, and how can I help in meeting those challenges?

This question demonstrates that you want to provide help in the best way possible. Whether filling a void, providing a missing skill set, or taking on a difficult task, you are showing your willingness to help an organization meet and overcome the real challenges they face today.

Second, it gives you a great insight about the interviewer, your potential future boss. By observing how he or she responds, you can determine what challenges are ahead, and have a plan to address these challenges. Then you can decide if there’s a productive role for you and your skills in meeting these challenges, in turn making you a successful contributor.

Third, this question reveals information about the company that interviewers may not usually share in an interview. Based on their response, you can figure out how the business is operating. Is profitability a challenge? Are there difficulties in hiring and maintaining good people? Are they struggling to grow the business? By understanding these challenges, you better understand the company.

Asking what challenges a company faces, and how you can help address those challenges is a great question to ask your interviewer.

Stay tuned next week, when I pose the second question you should ask your interviewer.

Brian T. King is the founder and owner of multiple firms encompassing design, construction, real estate, and manufacturing, and currently president of the integrated Design-Build firm A M King. Brian shares his passion for mentoring young professionals, rising managers and entrepreneurs at speaking engagements around the country, on podcasts and via his blog.


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