Opportunities come to the most prepared

After my first year in sales I was promoted to the management team. During this time I worked day-in and day-out with the hiring manager and corporate trainer to accomplish one goal: find and develop new talent.

This experience was the stepping stone for my coaching career where I’ve since gone on to assist over 150 business professionals in winning opportunities across Europe and the US.

Early on in my training, the sales director told me to pay special attention to the questions I was being asked at the end of each interview. His logic for this was simple — asking the right questions is huge in sales.

However, the 5 questions below cut across all sectors, and will help you to make not only a strong first impression, but a lasting one— which is exactly what you want when it comes time for the hiring team to make a decision.

Quick side: Pay special attention to the flow of the questions. Each question leads straight into the next one and will help you to a establish a conversational tone to the interview.

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This is a great question because it gets to the heart of the job and what’s expected from the person they hire. But the real beauty of it is it forces the hiring team to describe their dream candidate while looking directly at you.

According to international executive trainer, Phil Jones, this can be an extremely powerful persuasion tool. This is because people never make a hiring decision without first taking the time to imagine who would be the best fit. Since you asked the hiring team to describe the actions and qualities of a successful hire while looking at you, when it comes time for them to make a decision the odds increase that they’ll see your face again.

Variation: Thinking back to people you’ve seen do this work previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were great at it?”

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This question is a great follow-up for the first question as again it associates the word success with you. But it also takes it one step further as it shows you’re proactively investigating the feedback loop that exists within the organization you are speaking with.

Companies aren’t always looking for the smartest, fastest or strongest person. More times than not they are looking for someone who is willing to put in the work to become smarter, faster, and stronger. The question above is a great way to demonstrate this and once again leads nicely into the next one.

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In the book, Influence, author Robert Cialdini recommends when speaking with clients to get their biggest concerns out of the way as soon as you can. This is also great advice for interviews.

You may be looking for a company with growth potential, but like I said above — companies are looking for people who want to grow. And a big part of growing is opening yourself up to negative feedback.

You may not enjoy uncomfortable conversations, but they’re necessary. Asking the people you are speaking with on day one to address your shortcomings today so you can get things right tomorrow is a great way to demonstrate your eagerness to seek out feedback.

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Maybe you’ve taken the initiative to improve your presentation skills by being a member in your local Toastmasters club — or you’ve taken an intensive communication course. The question above allows you to demonstrate your willingness to develop these much sought after skills.

Rarely are great hires only one-dimensional. Successful people always have an “AND” — strong programming skills “AND” a great teacher. The more you can weave your “AND’s” together during the interview the better.

Innovation comes to the teams that can best collaborate. So take advantage of this question and set yourself up to answer it in a way that demonstrates your both your hard AND soft skills.

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Asking about the company culture flat-out shows the people in front of you didn’t do your homework. However, dropping names, and the fact you’ve taken the time to learn about the company culture, shows you did (I can’t recommend enough in addition to reading about the company you make the effort to speak to a few of the people who are working there).

This question not only shows the hiring team you are willing to put in the work. But it also takes it one step further by opening the conversation to see what plans they have to help the company culture grow tighter as the company grows bigger.

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Pulling it all together:

Companies create positions because they have a problem to solve.

The beauty of the questions above is they get to the heart of the problem the company is facing while positioning yourself as the best person to fill it.

And this is exactly the type of impression you want to make in an interview as it allows you to not only leave a strong first impression — but to also leave a lasting one.

Oh BTW — If a business contacted you for an interview remember they wouldn’t have done so if they didn’t believe you have what it takes to do a great job. So relax and enjoy yourself. After all — confidence isn’t only seen, it is also felt.

Happy hunting.

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This article first appeared in Better Marketing (Medium.com)

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