COLUMN – As an experienced recruiter and career coach, I have prepared thousands of job seekers for job interviews. And I think I’ve found the best question to ask in almost any job interview.
A crucial part of almost any preparation is thinking of questions to ask yourself during the interview. The questions you ask can play an important role in moving forward in the application process and ultimately receiving an offer.
You should always be able to ask specific questions about the company and the interviewer. But there is one question that I always recommend:
“What is the biggest challenge for someone in this role?”
I’ve advised countless job seekers to ask this question, and it’s met with consistent success. I’ve used this question myself for over 15 years and it helped me get into Harvard Business School, PwC, and Facebook. In almost every interview where I’ve used this question, the interviewer replies, “That’s a great question.”
This is a great question for three reasons:
1. You stand out
It’s not a common question you’ll see on lists of top interview questions…at least not yet. Recruiters and recruiters are constantly bombarded with the same questions from job seekers. Asking the same questions as everyone else will make you less noticeable and less remembered. You emphasize that you are ready for a challenge
A common question you find in blogs and articles is, “What does success look like in this role?”
This isn’t a bad question, but one that every recruiter has heard. When you instead ask, “What is the biggest challenge for someone in this role?” you indicate that you not only want to be successful in this job, but that you are also ready for new challenges.
Those you interview with will be impressed that you are not only asking questions that will benefit you, but that you also have questions about the new role and how you can succeed despite all the challenges in it.
3. You introduce yourself in the role
Recruiters want to know whether you can empathize with the new role and whether you are taking on all the responsibilities. By leading the way in naming the challenges instead of the successes, you give a clear indication that you can see yourself in that role. It also shows your enthusiasm to get started in practice, whatever the challenges may be.Even if you don’t know how you overcame such a challenge, you can still stand out by asking the question.
Recently I posted a video on TikTok about this interview question and the response from active job seekers has been overwhelmed. So use this question during your next job interview.
Rob Cancilla is an experienced recruiter working for startup companies backed by major investors. He is also an assistant professor at the Quinlan School of Business at Loyal University Chicago and co-founder of the resume platform Vibio.
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