No matter where you work or what you do in life, you will interview. In this episode, I'm revealing interviewing secrets from 25 years in the corporate world like: 3 questions to ask the interviewer to give you an unfair advantage for job interviews...
No matter where you work or what you do in life, you will interview. In this episode, I'm revealing interviewing secrets from 25 years in the corporate world like:
Back in the saddle for Episode 35. I am your host, Don Sevcik. And this week, we’re talking about the job interview. At some point in time, we will ALL interview. Interview for an internship, group, or a job.
For this episode, we aren’t going to talk about the cringeworthy traditional advice about networking and cover letters and all the stuff that doesn’t work. Instead, we’re going to talk about real world stuff, during the interview.
Now you may be asking, what are my Qualifications to dispense this advice:
Answer: I’ve worked 25+ years in Corporate America outside of my side business. I’ve worked for Fortune 500 companies as well as startups, and have been on BOTH sides of the interviewing table. I’ve interviewed for over 10 jobs in my career, and have interviewed people 15 times. So I’m distilling the battle tested wisdom on this one.
I believe in skin the game, so everything I’m telling you here, I’ve used in interviews, as well as seen candidates who I’ve interviewed use a version of it. And every time, it works wonders, assuming you haven’t botched any other part of the interview.
These 3 questions have helped me create a bond with the interviewer and eventually get the job and extra perks. What kind of perks? Perks like extra vacation, signing bonuses, and work from home options not offered on the original job description and benefits.
To give you a primer on these 3 questions, they use certain psychological hooks as well as frame you as the prize. Because in any interview, you’re not just interviewing for the job, but the company is interviewing for you to come work for them. Meaning, you’re the prize. I talked about the prize frame in another episode, but it’s worth talking about here again.
These questions use the prize frame, but they also set you apart from other candidates by showing your interest in how the business is doing and where it’s going. Every time I’ve asked these questions, I sense a shift in the body language and the room. The interviewer always responds.
And remember, when you get an interviewer engaged, it’s an investment, of both time and emotion. And what do people do with investments? The longer and more deep they’re invested, the longer they’re likely to STAY invested.
I use 3 questions which always establish rapport and grant me favor with interviewers. The 3 questions are:
Let’s cover a quick psychological overview of the three questions, and then dive into more detail.
The first question makes the interviewer tell you about their values for the ideal candidate. I love this question because it forces their hand, it makes them open up and design the ideal candidate right in front of you.
The second question reveals their passion for the business and industry they work in. And if they struggle with this question, you’ve identified a red flag. If the person who interviews you, who is the face the company is putting forward, cannot find ANYTHING about the job or industry that excites them, then you should run from that job as fast as you can.
The third question puts them in a vulnerable spot. And this is good, because it protects you from an interviewer who tries to sell you cupcakes and rainbows about a job. If the interviewer cannot come up with a challenge, then you should be alert. This is too good to be true. What you’re looking for are problems to solve and what the interviewer’s genuine concerns are.
So those are the 3 questions. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Oh, great question!” or “Thanks for asking…” after I ask those questions. and then the interviewer goes right into the answers.
Now, pay attention, because here comes the good part. When interviewers answer these questions, they give away clues about the role and company which weren’t discussed before. They also give you a zoomed-in view for the company culture and how the interviewer thinks.
They’ll tell you about the business and reveal clues about themselves of what they like or dislike. Think of yourself as an interview detective. And the answers they give to these questions provide valuable intelligence about the company and the interviewer. Remember, the whole company can’t interview you. So the decision comes down to a few people, and the people that interview you hold the highest weight.
My favorite intelligence gathering tool is something we covered briefly in a prior episode. It’s called motivation direction. If you missed that episode, here’s a recap. Humans only have two reasons for doing ANYTHING in life. To move towards pleasure, or away from pain. When you ask the interviewer about the ideal candidate, their passions, and their challenges, keep a close ear and a keen eye on how they answer the question.
I once interviewed at a Fortune 500 company, and after asking the question about challenges, the interviewer revealed, they’re having supply problems and operations issues. Well, well, well, that’s a valuable piece of intelligence right there. And everytime the interviewer answered, he spoke in terms of avoiding pain. He’d say things like, “We’ve got to avoid cost overruns.” or, “We need to stop losing time with onboarding.” or, “I don’t want to see us fall behind the competition.”
Notice, in all three of those answers, he talked about what he DIDN’t want. Not what he did want. So when you speak to this person, if you want to bond, you can speak in terms of avoiding pain. However, if you’re a towards person, which I’ll cover in a moment, you may be turned off by talking to this person.
A towards person is somebody who moves towards pleasure or a goal. They don’t talk about avoiding negatives. They talk about making a direct advance on something. I’ll never forget after asking one of my “magic 3” interview questions, the interviewer said, “I want the company to make 100 million dollars in revenue this year.” And when I asked about the ideal candidate, the interviewer didn’t even hesitate. “I want somebody who finishes things on time and comes up with innovations to reduce our costs and delivery time.” This is a person who knows what they want. So now you know how to speak to an away person.
Another benefit of the Magic 3 interview questions reveals company culture. How do they speak? What buzzwords do they use? What is their vision, if they have any vision at all. Do they value performance, or do they value office culture? If you’re performance driven and you get dropped into an office culture obsessed place, you’re going to be miserable. So it’s best to find this information out up front before committing to ANY Job.
The next benefit of the Magic 3 questions shows you the key to the last episode...problem solving. These questions get people talking, and they’ll often reveal what problems or challenges they need solved. If you have ideas, this may be a time to tell a story of how you’d solve this problem. I once snatched a consulting gig after the interviewer revealed a traffic problem with their company. I sent them a copy of my book, and told them the page number the answer was on. They called back after reading the book and asked for more help.
The magic 3 interview questions get people to reveal sensitive information. You can use this information to your advantage. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “Never interrupt your enemy when they’re making a mistake.” Well, there’s an offshoot of this which you can apply to interviews…”Never interrupt an interviewer when they’re telling you how to get the job.”
So in summary, the magic 3 interview questions to ask, usually in the middle or end of an interview, are as follows:
These 3 questions get the interviewer talking, and reveal WHAT they value as well as why they value it. Since people make decisions based on values, the answers given reveal the keys to the decisions made in the company. Discover the values, and you have the key to unlocking the job. Why is this important? To answer, I’ll direct your attention to one of the most important books ever written 2,500 years ago, called the Art of War.
I’m paraphrasing Sun Tzu, but the most valuable person in a battle outside a great leader, is not the soldiers, the general, the terrain, or the weapons. The most valuable person is the spy, the one who gets the valuable information to win the war. Information gives you an incredible advantage in interviews. And the magic 3 interview questions... help you get it.
We covered a lot in this episode. And I want to help you crush college prep. So I put together a list of expert resources for you. Resources like Test prep, financial aid, and mindset. Go to cpcshow.com. That's c-p-c-show.com. If you liked this episode, why don’t you subscribe to stay up to date on a treasure chest of college prep resources and tips? Also, if you enjoyed prior episodes, I’d love it if you gave us a rating on iTunes. Thank you for listening.