The Most Important Question to Ask in an Interview
The most important question to ask in an interview is “What are the challenges I would face in this job in the first 6 months?” Pay close attention to the interviewer’s answer as it will tell you exactly what they are looking for. Then focus your responses on the skills and achievements you have produced that would give them the confidence that you will succeed on the job.
Here’s an example. A marketing executive was in an interview with an Executive Vice President of a fast-growing company. He asked this question and was told, “You know, our biggest challenge is that we have so many marketing partnership opportunities, we need someone to come in and figure out which one or two to go forward with as we only have the bandwidth to do a few”. Now, hearing this, does it make sense for the candidate to brag about his ability to write copy or manage ad agencies? I don’t think so. Instead he mentioned how analytical he was in evaluating partnership opportunities and was immediately invited to meet the President of the company that day! That’s how powerful this technique can be.
Within 24 hours, you should always email the interviewer with a Thank You note repeating the challenge they presented. Indicate how you have overcome similar challenges in the past and how you are confident in your ability to succeed in their position. Then follow-up with a written letter by regular mail. Asking this simple question will make sure you are showing the employer that you have what it takes to be a valuable addition to their staff.