Eight Questions You Must Ask In An Interview, with J.T. O’Donnell

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Transcript

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard your host and publisher of Mac’s List.

I’m joined by my co-hosts Ben Forstag, our managing director, and Jenna Forstrom, our community manager.

This week we’re talking about the eight questions you must ask in a job interview.

Our show is brought to you by Land Your Dream Job Anywhere, the new book from Mac’s List available February 1. Land Your Dream Job Anywhere shows you how to find meaningful, well-paying work no matter where you live. To learn more and get free tools that can help you get your next job visit MacsList.org/anywhere.

You’ve just spent 45 minutes in a job interview answering questions. The hiring manager now asks, “What questions do you have for us?” Too many candidates say, “None. I’m all set,” or worse, “Can you tell me about vacation time and holiday pay?” But, ask the right questions in a job interview and you will make a great impression. You’ll also get the insights you need to determine if this employer is right for you.

Our guest expert this week is J.T. O’Donnell who runs the Work It Daily website. She says you need a strategy for the questions you ask in a job interview. Later in the show J.T. shows you how to do this and tells you the eight questions you must ask.

Did you know that the color of your clothing sends a subconscious signal to the people you meet? Ben Forstag has found a blog post that shows you the colors you want to choose and avoid the next time you pick an interview suit. He’ll tell us a more in a moment.

Are you a recent college graduate who just landed your first job? Congratulations. Now you’re wondering how do you manage a 401(k), health insurance, and other employee provided benefits. That’s the question of the week. It comes from listener Allison Reimschisel, and Jenna Forstrom has her advice.

First as always let’s check in with the Mac’s List team. Ben, Jenna, what questions do you two commonly ask in a job interview when you’re an applicant?

Jenna Forstrom:

For me, it’s always what are the next steps? What are employers looking for? What’s their timeline and how that will fit in with the other places that I’m interviewing, and then everything else is kind of on the fly things that they have talked about, so okay, so your company culture is you work remotely on Thursdays. What tools do you guys use to stay engaged and work efficiently offline? Just that kind of stuff. How about you Ben?

Ben Forstag:

My favorite questions are the ones that get to the heart of the employer’s problems. I think one of the mistakes a lot of job seekers make is they wait until the end of the interview to be prompted for what questions do you have. I think it makes a lot of sense to, as early as you can in the conversation, get down to a question of like what are your pain points? Where are you struggling to do your mission or to find business, because the sooner you can get the employer to start talking about their problems, the sooner you are able to start aligning your skills, your experience, your interests and passions around that. I think that’s a really good way to go from the gauntlet of a typical interview, where the employer asks questions and you respond, to a conversation where it’s a back and forth.

I think the best interviews I’ve ever had as a candidate have been like that and frankly the best interviews I’ve ever had as an employer when I was interviewing people. Very quickly we got off script from the formal questions and got into a conversation about my needs as an employer and what that candidate could do to help me.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. I also ask questions about the problems that may be troubling employers. I want to find out what their needs are. I think I’ve shared this on earlier shows, one question I always ask when I’m an applicant is to say to the person who’s interviewing me, “If I’m fortunate enough to get this job and we’re sitting down and doing my annual review in 12 months, what are the three things you want me to tell you I’ve done for you, that I’ve accomplished?” That changes the dynamic of the conversation and it does make it a conversation, and brings it back to your point, Ben, about understanding the employer’s problems because once she or he shares those with you, then you can look back on your own experience and provide examples of how you’ve addressed those problems.

Jenna, I really like your point about the process. I think too many candidates leave the room not knowing what the next step is. It’s a question that employers and hiring managers expect you to ask and it will help you figure out how to follow up effectively. I know we’ve talked about this in previous podcast with our expert interviewers.

Jenna Forstrom:

Yeah. Definitely. It seems like it’s a common question, like even just in casual conversation when you’re talking to your friends and they go into a job interview, and they tell you about it over coffee or drinks at happy hour, and you’re like, “Cool. When should you hear back?” I feel like my friends are always like, “Oh, I don’t know.” It’s like come on. It’s like a freebie question that you can ask any employer. It’s just really easy to know what the plan is.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. Agreed. I think as listeners know I run another business, Prichard Communications, and it’s a public relations firm. We often talk to potential clients about working with them and that will involve an interview. Just last week I was part of a team that talked to a prospective client. The last question I asked just before the interview ended was what’s the best way to follow up? When do you expect to make a decision? How should I follow up with you? That principle applies whether you’re applying for a job or applying for a contract.

All right, well thank you both Jenna and Ben. Now let’s turn to Ben Forstag, who is out there every week searching the nooks and crannies of the Internet. He’s looking for websites, books, and tools you can use in your job search and your career. Ben, what have you uncovered for us this week?

Ben Forstag:

This week I want to talk about an interesting blog post I found called What Colors to Wear to a Job Interview. This comes from the website thebalance.com. A lot of the advice here is stuff you probably already know about, some basics about wardrobes that you would wear. Things like you want to prefer solids over patterns when you’re in a job interview, neutrals over bright colors. Although I think I’ve shared on a previous episode whenever I went for an interview I always liked to wear a really bright shirt, like a bright pink shirt with a dark suit.

Then the key advice here, and I think again we’ve talked about this in past episodes, is to know the office environment, the office culture, because that’s going to dictate a lot of the rules around what’s appropriate to wear to a job interview. The part of the article that I thought was most interesting was about the psychology of different colors and how different color tones for suits or dresses, or even dress shirts and ties, how that can reflect on you as a candidate. I’ll say a lot of the psychology behind this seems a little pop psychology to me, that every color has its own special, unique, great attributes, but one particular thing that came across was they actually warned against wearing a black suit, which to me seems such a foreign concept, right?

The black suit is like the standard for men but what they said is that unless you’re applying for an executive level position or a very conservative office, the black suit can come across as too strong in a lot of workplaces. An off-color suit, a dark gray, a blue, even a beige suit in the summertime is fine, but stay away from black.
Mac Prichard:

Okay, so black is a no-no; what are colors that are recommended Ben?
Ben Forstag:

They were saying dark blue is really good. They said a crisp white shirt, whether you’re a man or a woman, always reflects well on you, and dark grays were also suggested. For someone like me, who is not a fashion hound and needs a lot of advice and help picking out clothes, I thought this was really interesting and valuable. If you’re getting ready for your next interview, I encourage you to check it out. Again, it’s called ‘What Colors to Wear to a Job Interview’ and it’s on thebalance.com website. We will have the URL in the show notes.

Mac Prichard:

Thank you, Ben. If you have a suggestion for Ben please write him and we may share your idea on the show. Ben’s address is easy to remember. It’s Ben@MacsList.org.

Now it’s time to hear from you, our listeners. Jenna Forstrom, our community manager joins us to answer one of your questions. Jenna, what’s in the Mac’s List mailbag this week?

Jenna Forstrom:

This week’s question comes from Allison Reimschisel who asks:

Allison Reimschisel:

Hi. My name’s Allison Reimschisel and I’m from Texas. I just have a few questions. There’s two sets. Inside of the question I have more questions. Lots of questions. Number one goes to Jenna, how did you get involved with Nike and what were your steps leading up to that first job? What was your day-to-day job like, and inside of that, what were the struggles that you faced in this new transition?

The second set of questions is what are some tips for a smooth transition from a college student to the real world? Within this I’d like to have some financial tips, like what should I start thinking about as far as investing goes? What should I start thinking about in investing, and insurance, and retirement plans? There’s all these words being thrown at me and they’re kind of new. Yes, I did have a finance class in college but still just putting it into real world is kind of difficult.

Thank you so much. I really enjoy your podcast and have a great day. Bye.

Jenna Forstrom:

Hey Allison. Thank you so much for calling in and asking your questions about finances. I totally agree with you. When I was a college graduate and starting my first real job, adult job, I was totally overwhelmed getting the HR benefits package. You have advice from, or I felt like I was really blessed because my family has been really open about finances so when I was applying for colleges my mom sat down and did the FAFSA form with me, so it was really educating and insightful. But the flipside is I didn’t take even a personal finance class in college or in high school so I was flying completely blind.

My advice would be to make a budget, and there are great websites out there, mint.comyouneedabudget.com, just Google it, and everyone’s got an opinion, and find a budget that works for you and start off based with that. Then work back with your HR team with your new job and just ask questions. That’s what they’re there for, to help you figure out what insurance you need, what kind of retirement plan you want to do, what the employee stock purchasing plan if you’re a publicly traded company, like all of your options and just figure out what works for you because there’s a reason personal finance has the word personal in it. It totally depends on you, or your family, or your situation.

There’s a really great community of people out there that love talking about this. They’re called FinCon, which is like financial conference community kind of play. If you Google them just find a writer that you like and send them your questions. I think it’s a great resource.

Mac and Ben, do you guys have any other tips?

Ben Forstag:

Well, first I’d say the time to get clear about a lot of these things is actually before you get that job offer I’d say, because I think one of the things I’ve found is a lot of job seekers, the salary is the be-all end-all of the compensation package when they think about it. In a lot of employers there’s all these other benefits that are there that can really push up the value of the job to you as an individual if you know how to take advantage of them. Things like employee stock options, or a 401(k), or health care benefits, all these other things. You need to have some kind of cursory knowledge of them so that when you get that job offer you can evaluate it clearly and you’re not just looking at the salary number and basing all of your decisions off of that.

Now, I would say in terms of getting on sound financial footing, I am not a financial planner myself, but the two pieces of information that I think are kind of obvious to most people, and most financial planners would say this, would be if your employer offers a matching 401k contribution, max that out. That is free money and you should go out of your way to make sure that you put in whatever amount your employer’s going to match. The other one obviously is just pay off your credit cards. Don’t overcharge. If you follow those two things you’re probably better than quite a few people out there.

Mac Prichard:

I agree about your point Ben about taking advantage of 401(k) because if there is an employer match and you’re not taking advantage of it, you’re leaving money on the table. I also commend you, Jenna, for encouraging her to do a budget because now’s the time to create habits that if you don’t already have formed, like budgeting, start now, early in your career, early in your 20s, and those habits will serve you well throughout life. I would also say that in terms of investing you want to ask for help, so turn to people you know and trust like your parents, or if you want to work with a financial planner, as with any vendor, talk to a couple. Tell the planners what your needs are. It’s best to work with fee-only planners if you go down that route rather than one whose advice, makes their living on commissions based on sales of products they offer you.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The third point I’d make is time is on your side. Compound interest is your friend. Whatever investment strategy you choose, the earlier you get started, and especially if it’s matched with a 401(k) contribution from an employer, the more benefits you will enjoy later in life. You’ll reap those benefits by getting started now. Kudos to you, Allison, for asking that question and thinking about these issues right now, at the start of your career.

Well, thank you Jenna. If you have a question for us please email Jenna. Her address is easy. It’s Jenna@MacsList.org, or call our listener line. That number is area code 716–562–8255. That’s 716-JOBTALK. If we use your question on the show we’ll send you a free copy of our upcoming book, Land Your Dream Job Anywhere, or a Mac’s List coffee mug. It’s your choice.

These segments by Ben and Jenna are brought to you by Land Your Dream Job Anywhere, the new book from Mac’s List coming out on February 1. For 15 years at Mac’s List we’ve helped job seekers in Portland, Oregon find meaningful, well-paying, and rewarding jobs that they love. Now we put all of our best job hunting advice in one new book that can help you, no matter where you live. Just like this podcast our new book offers practical, actionable, and proven tools you can use right away. In Land Your Dream Job Anywhere you’ll learn how to get clear about your career goals, find hidden jobs that never get posted, ace your next job interview, negotiate the salary and benefits you’ve earned, and take charge of your career for the long run.

Land Your dream Job Anywhere contains special features from many of the most popular guests who have appeared on this podcast. Get extra insights from more than a dozen national career experts like Farai Chideya, Kerry Hannon, and more.

Land Your Dream Job Anywhere launches February 1 but don’t wait, join our pre-launch mailing list and will send you the first chapter and other valuable resources for free. Visit MacsList.org/anywhere.

Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert J.T. O’Donnell. J.T. O’Donnell is a career strategist and workplace consultant who helps American workers of all ages find greater professional satisfaction. She’s the author of Career Realism, The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career, and with Dale Dauten she writes the career advice column J.T. and Dale Talk Jobs, a nationally syndicated career advice column that appears in more than 130 newspapers.

J.T. joins us today from Hampton, New Hampshire. J.T., thanks for coming on the show.

J.T. O’Donnell:

Thanks for having me Mac.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. It’s a pleasure to have you. We’re talking today about job interviews and what an applicant should do in a job interview, particularly after the hiring manager turns to her or him and says “do you have any questions for us?” Let’s start with the questions you don’t want to ask J.T. Why is no a bad answer when a hiring manager says do you have any questions for us?

J.T. O’Donnell:

Well, if you think about it you’re entering into a relationship with this employer. You want to work with them, not for them. Anytime we’re in a relationship we want that trust and respect to come out, and so if you say that you don’t have any questions, you’re really showing a lack of interest in building that relationship. You need to prove that you’ve done your homework and that you want to learn more about them in order to build that trust and respect. When you say no a couple of things are happening. You’re acting like you’re not engaged, or maybe you’re not sophisticated enough, or really focused enough on them to know to ask those questions. They’re expecting you to ask those questions – so never worry about that.

I think the worst part of it is that when you do that, it’s really an opportunity for you to look under the hood, and kick the tires, and get to know the company better. The worst thing is you’re giving away an opportunity to get the information that you need so that if you choose to work for this company, you feel you’re making the right choice.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, so you don’t want to close the door on that opportunity but there are other questions you probably don’t want to ask. I know on top of that list for you is questions about vacation, sick leave, and other benefits. Why can that backfire on a candidate to ask about those things?

J.T. O’Donnell:

Well, if you think about it the employer is going to be hiring you and paying good money to hire you. When you’re in that interview they’re expecting you to ask questions around how you can serve them better and how you can make sure you do a great job in order to earn that money. If your first questions are all about the benefits and what’s in it for you, you’re coming across as selfish and even self-absorbed. That’s not somebody that a company wants to partner with. They want you to focus on them first. The questions about your pay, and your benefits, and your perks, those come later when you’ve been given the offer. When they present the offer to you that’s your opportunity to get clarification on those, but definitely not in the early interview phases.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. Now, I know you are a big fan of applicants asking questions in interviews but you also think they need to have a strategy for doing so. You recommend something you call the four Cs. I’d like to talk about those four Cs and, within that structure, there are always eight questions you think applicants should ask. Let’s take a moment, J.T., and walk through those four Cs. The first one you recommend is connect. Tell us what connect means and why people should focus on that.

J.T. O’Donnell:

Absolutely. When you’re in an interview you’re talking to another human being. It’s very important that you connect with that human being. It’s going to help you. In fact we know that hiring managers hire on three things, and in this order. They hire on personality, aptitude, and experience. Personality matters a lot because they have to work with you day in and day out, week after week, year after year if they hire you for this job. They do want to connect with you and they need to feel comfortable with you. You need to be able to build that relationship first with them and connection questions are going to help you do that, help you find points of commonality, help you feel more comfortable with one another.

Mac Prichard:

What are two good connect questions to ask?

J.T. O’Donnell:

There’s lots of them but two of my favorites are open ended questions. The first one is “how did you come to work here?” Tell me your story. How were they lucky enough to find you? Find your own way of asking that question. The second one is “what do you love most about working here?” Again, open ended so they can talk about it, but positive. Both of those questions are very positive questions. That means they’re going to have positive energy when they’re giving you the answers, and by association they’re going to feel more positive about you as a potential coworker.

Mac Prichard:

J.T., why is it a good thing to ask open ended questions? How does that help the candidate both present themselves and make a decision about whether they want to work at this organization?

J.T. O’Donnell:

Absolutely. Open ended questions, like I said, are ones where it’s not just a yes or no answer. There’s a couple reasons you should do this. One is it gets them talking and you’re going to hear their voice tone and you’re going to learn more about their communication style. They’re going to give you a lot more information. That’s going to help you relax, and that’s really the second reason why you want to do this. When you get them talking, you get a break. You’re not in the spotlight anymore. They are. These open ended questions are just a great way for you to get a breather but also learn a heck of a lot more about the company and that individual than you would with closed ended questions.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and I would add too, if you ask a positive, energetic question and you don’t get positive energy and return, that’s a telling sign, isn’t it, that maybe there’s something going on there?

J.T. O’Donnell:

Right, and that’s exactly the point we were making earlier, Mac. You’re so spot on. This is your chance to kick the tires and look under the hood. Trust your gut. If you’re not seeing this person respond to you in a way that feels right, then there’s something there. Just because we’re there interviewing doesn’t mean we have to have this job. You really want to find the right one that fits you.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. The first C was connect. The second one is corporate culture. Tell us more about this, and why it matters, and how people can explore that.

J.T. O’Donnell:

Yeah. We tell people that every company is a tribe. It’s true. Tribes have their own unique culture. You may or may not fit into that tribe and it’s your job to figure that out before you accept the job. You want to ask a couple questions around the culture to get a sense if this is someplace where you would sync. If any of you have ever been in a situation where you felt completely alone, fish out of water in a work environment, that’s a sign that you’re not a match for their culture. You want to make sure that you’re clear on that.

Mac Prichard:

What are good questions, two great questions to ask to get at that cultural topic, J.T.?

J.T. O’Donnell:

Well, so both of these questions are around individuals that are working there because you want to hear them talk about an actual person. That’s going to give you a sense of are the qualities that they’re looking for a match for who you are. The first question is “who’s the most successful person hired here in the last year, and how did they succeed?” You want to hear about a recent hire who’s really integrated themselves into the company well and get their opinion of why this person was successful in doing that.

On the flipside the second question is “who’s been the least successful person hired here, and what did they do wrong?” Now, why do you ask that polar opposite? Because again, you want to see are the any certain things, any skills or qualities that the company doesn’t seem to relate to. You may find out that hey, they’ll say the person that wasn’t hired didn’t put in enough hours, and didn’t work overtime, and didn’t do all the things we needed to to get projects done on time, but at the same time this company is telling you they’ve got great work life balance.

There’s a red flag for you that when they’re telling you this person didn’t fit the culture, and you’re hearing that the culture is supposed to be work life balance, this is what I mean about looking under the hood and figuring out if this company is really what it says it is. You definitely want to ask both of those questions, the most successful person and the least successful person, and then as you hear them answer, ask yourself do those lineup with all the values and beliefs that they said that they had as a culture? That’s how you can find the ones that maybe are bluffing.

Mac Prichard:

At the start of our conversation you talked about always thinking about the needs of the employer and I know that relates to your third C, which is challenges. Why is it important to ask about a company’s challenges and its needs? How does that help both the applicant as a candidate, but also to understand the organization?

J.T. O’Donnell:

Yeah. If you think about it you are a service provider. You’re a business of one providing your services to the employer. The employer can’t hire you just for the heck of it. They have a business to run. The reason they hire you is to do one of two things, and sometimes both, which is to save and/or make money. That’s because they need to save or make enough money to justify the cost of hiring you, which by the way generally runs them about 130-140% of your salary because of all the benefits, and the training, and the additional items, the additional taxes, etc.

This is a big investment on their part. If you want to be the candidate they choose, you need to think about the pain that you can alleviate and the problems that you can solve for them because when you do that you’re saving or making them money. Asking them questions about their challenges and learning how this job will support them will help you understand the connection between why this job, and how it makes a financial impact, and that way you really can speak to that and say look. I’ve got the skills that can alleviate those pains, solve those challenges for you, and in turn will save or make you money that justifies hiring me.

Mac Prichard:

What are your top two challenge questions that you recommend candidates ask, J.T.?

J.T. O’Donnell:

The first one’s pretty blunt. “What’s the biggest challenge this company will face this year and how will it be overcome?” That’s where you want to ask about does the company know what its challenges are. I mean anybody that says to you we don’t have any challenges, that’s a red flag, right? Of course they’re focused on their challenges but you want to hear how they plan to overcome them. How are they committed to succeeding?

The second question is “as an employee what can I do to make a difference and have an impact on the company this year?” How can my job help you overcome that challenge? What’s the best way for me to do this job so that I can help you with that? That shows that you really understand that your job is to solve problems, alleviate pain, add value. These two questions together will really show them that you understand that you are being hired to make an impact.

Mac Prichard:

Finally, your fourth C is close, and this is at the end of the conversation. What do you recommend a candidate do in this phase?

J.T. O’Donnell:

This is the point where you want to be able to say to them, and get a sense of, the next steps in the process. I think so many people leave an interview and they don’t ask these two questions, and then you’re wondering, right? Wondering if I’ll hear from them. Wondering where I stand in the process. Nobody likes to wait around like that. It’s the worst feeling in the world. It doesn’t have to happen. You can ask closing questions that will get you that clarity so that you know what’s happening next in this process.

The first question is, “is there anything about my candidacy that you would change to make me a better fit for this job?” Think about that. What you’re saying to them is, is there anything about what I presented about myself today that you wish I had? Is it a skill set or an experience that you think would make me a better fit? If they are, if they have concerns this is their opportunity to share it with you. I have had people use this question before and find out that the company didn’t know they had a certain experience, or didn’t think they had a certain skill set, and that candidate was able to go well I do have that, but they never would’ve had that chance if they didn’t ask this question.

The second question is, “what are the next steps in the hiring process?” This is important because you want to know what’s going on. This is where they’re going to tell you, well, we have a few other people to interview. It could take us a couple of weeks. We’ll be following up with you in three weeks. That allows you to say, “is it okay if I follow up with you, and if so, how should I do that?”

You don’t want to just dive in there and say I’m going to be calling you and I’m going to be following up with you. You want to ask for permission. You want to ask for how they prefer you connect with them, but you do want to be proactive. That question, what are the next steps in the hiring process, opens up that dialogue between you and the employer so that you can get then say “when would it be okay to check in with you on the status of my candidacy,” and get a definitive time? Otherwise you’re waiting around. You don’t know what’s going on and it really stresses you out.

Mac Prichard:

Well, thanks. What I love about all of these questions is each of them gives you an opportunity to either start or continue and move forward a conversation about the company’s needs, but also how you can address them as a candidate. I find that when people do that, they have a lot more success in both getting job offers and figuring out if that is indeed a place they want to work.

Well, thanks J.T. Now tell us what’s coming up next for you?

J.T. O’Donnell:

At Work It Daily we’ve been hard at work on a daily basis, pun intended, developing more courses for folks. People who have career problems, career challenges, use our courses and coaching community to solve them. We’ve been so lucky over the last seven years and 5,000 customers later that our customers keep coming back to us and saying hey, we want a course on this, we want more training on this. Every month we’re rolling out new courses over at Work It Daily to address things that run the gamut from interview prep to salary negotiation, networking, getting your next promotion, finding a new job, leveraging the power of LinkedIn. It’s just amazing and so we’re having a lot of fun doing that and hopefully we’ll be adding a lot more courses in the next year.

Mac Prichard:

Terrific. We’ll be sure to include links to your website and your courses in the show notes and people can learn more about you, I know, by visiting your website. That URL is WorkItDaily.com. Well, J.T. thanks for being on the show.

J.T. O’Donnell:

Oh, thanks so much for having me. I just want to say, Mac, it’s huge what you’re doing here. Folks please make sure that you keep listening to sessions like this. You learn so much, especially when you get a diverse group of people coming on a show as great as this one, so Mac thank you for doing this for people. They really need it.

Mac Prichard:

Thank you. That’s very kind of you J.T. Thanks again for joining us.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio with Jenna and Ben. What were some key takeaways that you all had from the conversation? Jenna, would you like to go first?

Jenna Forstrom:

Yeah. I just loved how she gave practical open ended questions for everything throughout the whole interview. I know a earlier we were recording this podcast and we were saying at the end you should come with all these questions, but it seems by injecting open ended questions within the whole interview, it’s more of a dialogue, something that you talked about, and this just seemed like really practical ways to do that and continue the flow of conversation because just being an interviewee and being interviewed, yes/no questions just kill it because it’s like I have nothing else to give. When you’re trying to build rapport and get people to like you open ended questions are the way to go. My favorite one that she said was how did you get here? What was your story of landing at company XYZ or project manager XYZ? I really liked that.

Ben, what did you think?

Ben Forstag:

I loved her question about is there any way my application could be strengthened or a better fit for this job.

Mac Prichard:

We’ve heard versions of this question before.

Ben Forstag:

Yes we have and I think it’s such a great question because it just opens up a segue to talk about yourself more and to hear the objections that the employer has, and then immediately address them rather than leaving the interview and letting those objections just kind of fester inside the mind of the employer.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. In fact for my other company, Prichard Communications, when we were talking to a prospective client last week in a interview session, they invited us in, I used that question at the end and one of the people in the interview panel brought up a topic that was clearly on their mind, and, what was wonderful was, we were able to address it. We didn’t leave that room with that doubt in that person’s head. We got it out on the table and I think we were able to talk about it, to answer that doubt that they had.

Jenna Forstrom:

I think that’s a good point, too, because sometimes if it’s a large enough organization the hiring manager and HR are two totally different things. HR might have liked a form, this is what we do when we hire project managers and this is what we’re looking for, and when you get to that face-to-face time with the hiring manager it’s like, well actually my pain point is trying to figure out WordPress. Maybe you didn’t customize your resume but you have that skill set. You can be like, “Oh, I love WordPress. I dabble in WordPress. I have like three personal blogs about puppies and beer. Let me talk to you about that.” It immediately changes the conversation and you gain more respect and more connection to a person as a problem solver, definitely.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. Good point, Jenna. Then of course we need to include links to your blogs about puppies and beers.

Jenna Forstrom:

I have a blog about beer but no blogs about puppies. That was just an example.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. No, I know you have a blog about beer and you do have an Instagram account, I don’t know if you want to share that, with great photos of your dog, but we’ll move on.

Jenna Forstrom:

Maybe just the hashtag.

Mac Prichard:

Okay. Well thank you both and thank you all for listening to today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job. If you like what you hear please sign up for our free weekly newsletter. In every issue we give you the key points of that week’s show and we also include links to all the resources mentioned, and you get a transcript of the full episode. If you subscribe to the show newsletter now we’ll send you our job seeker checklist. In one easy-to-use file we show you all the steps you need to take to find a great job. Get your free newsletter and checklist today. Go to MacsList.org/podcast.

Join us next Wednesday when our special guest will be Eric Rosenberg. He’ll share tips on how to manage your money when you’ve lost your job. Until next week, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

In every interview there comes a time when the interviewer asks: “Do you have any questions for me?” Too many candidates make the rookie mistake of saying no, and leaving the interview without asking any questions.

This week’s guest, J.T. O’Donnell, shares eight questions to ask in an interview. She encourages applicants to ask open-ended questions and to use the job interview to find out as much about the company as possible. If you don’t, you are missing out on an important opportunity to get to know the company better. This can help you to know you are making the right choice if a job offer appears.

The employer is expecting you to ask questions about how you can serve them and how you can earn the money they would be paying you. If your first questions are about you, it can come across selfish and self-absorbed. They want you to focus on them first. Prove that you have done your homework and demonstrate you want to learn more about the company in order to build trust and respect.

J.T. guides us through her “4C Strategy,” which ultimately benefits both the job candidate and the employer.

Connect

  • “How did you come to work here?”
  • “What do you like most about working here?”

Corporate Culture

  • “Who is the most successful person hired in the last year?”
  • “Who has been the least successful person and what went wrong?”

Challenges

  • “What is the company’s biggest challenge this year?”
  • “How can my skills help you to overcome the challenge?”

Close

  • “Is there anything about my candidacy you would change to make me a better fit for this job?”
  • “What are the next steps in the hiring process?”

This Week’s Guest

J.T. O’Donnell is a career strategist and workplace consultant who helps American workers of all ages find greater professional satisfaction through courses on her website, Work it Daily. She is the author of Careerealism: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career. And with Dale Dauten, she writes the career advice column “J.T. & Dale Talk Jobs”, a nationally syndicated career advice column, that appears in more than 130 newspapers.

Resources from this Episode