Is “Why Wouldn’t You Hire Me?” the Best Interview Question Ever?

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Transcript

Ben Forstag:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired at the career you want and make a difference in life. I’m Ben Forstag, managing director of Mac’s List, and I am sitting here with Mac Prichard, the founder and owner of Mac’s List, and Jenna Forstrom, our community manager. A few weeks ago, Hannah Morgan, a career coach, was a guest on our show, and when we asked her what kind of questions job seekers should ask at the end of an interview, here was one of her responses. She said, if you want to ask a provocative question, you could say something like this, “I’m really excited about this job opportunity. Would you think of any reason why I wouldn’t be moved forward in this process?” Basically she is suggesting that some job seekers in certain circumstances might ask straight out, how did I do in this interview, to the interviewer. Mac, Jenna, what do you think about this question?

Jenna Forstrom:

As soon as she said it, I was sitting back here listening to it and I had this visceral, like, “Oh, that’s an awesome question. Oh, that’s a terrible question,” like wrapped into one. Because from an interviewer position, I feel like you feel so weak and you’re at the mercy of the hiring manager or the panel or whoever you’re talking to, or this is almost like a swagger question, like, “I’ve got this. I want to learn more. I’m interested.” The Bostonian in me is like, “Yeah, that’s an awesome question.” The flip side is I recognize, as an interviewee, someone doing an interview, I have no filter and I would make the most like, “I don’t have an answer for that,” and if I do, it’s not going to be a nice one. It’ll be all over my face. It’ll be terrible, because it’ll be like, “I don’t want to move you forward because I don’t like you,” or something not HR appropriate.

Ben Forstag:

You are assuming the worst here. The person going through the interview.

Jenna Forstrom:

I am. This is true. Yeah, I guess if they’re a good person, I’d be like, “Yeah, I don’t see,” but I don’t feel like … Here, I’m like the lowest person on the totem pole. I’d be like, “Yeah, you get to meet with Ben. You’re just moving up slightly,” but maybe Mac. I don’t know.

Ben Forstag:

Mac, what do you think?

Mac Prichard:

I love this question. The reason I loved it is because we know that when someone is sitting across from the desk from us and is interviewing us for a job, they have objections or concerns in their head. Your challenge as a job seeker is to draw those out so you can talk about them and address them, and maybe share, and share parts of your background and your story that can address those concerns. I think it is a bold question, but I think it’s in your interest as a job seeker to ask it.

Ben Forstag:

Your point is this gives the person who’s interviewing an opportunity to say, “Lay out any other objections you might have to me as a candidate” …

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Ben Forstag:

… and so you can proactively address them again.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah. Absolutely. I have a version of this question that I like to ask when I’m a job seeker, which is I’ll say to the person interviewing me, “I’m very interested in this position. I’d love to continue our conversation. I have to ask, if I were fortunate enough to get this job and we were sitting down in a year’s time to do my annual review, what are the 3 things you’d like me to tell you I’ve done for you?”

A couple of things happen when you ask that question. It transforms the dynamic. You start problem solving with your potential employer. They also will often tell you things that haven’t come up in the interview. There’s some project, some problem, that’s festering that they need someone to address, and they’ll tell you about it. That gives you the opportunity to show how you’ve addressed similar problems in the past. Again, that gives you a chance for them to see you as a problem solver. In the end, we’ve talked about this a lot, employers hire people to solve problems. The more you know about an employer’s problems, the more successful you’re going to be in your job search.

Jenna Forstrom:

I like that question too, because I feel like it changes the way you view the person you’re interviewing. It goes from being one of 10 applicants or 2 applicants to, “Oh, in this fictional one year time, you’re my coworker, and you’re my colleague, and you’re my confidant.” It changes the way … That’s a great question. I’ve never thought of it like that.

Ben Forstag:

I’ll say, with Hannah’s question, I think you do need to be delicate about when you use this, because this is a powerful question and it’s going to generate powerful responses, I think, both positive and negative. I know as the person who is the employer sometimes interviewing people, if someone asked me this question, it would put me on guard a little bit. You’re asking for answers before I have them or before I’ve had a chance to think through everything and think about the conversation we’ve just had. My initial response might be just, “I don’t really want to talk about that right now. Let’s hold off, and I’ll follow up with next steps in the future.” I think, if you’re reading the room really well, and you feel like you’ve got a really positive relationship going with the person who’s interviewing you, yeah, why not. This could be the icing on the cake. Okay, thanks guys. I really appreciate your feedback on this one.

Mac Prichard:

Thanks Ben.

On an earlier episode, guest expert, Hannah Morgan, spoke about how to nail your next phone interview.  While wrapping up the interview, she suggested informing the hiring manager you are still interested in the role and asking the question, “Would you think of any reason why I wouldn’t be moved forward in this process?”

The Mac’s List team thought this was a great question, that required a little more in depth conversation.  On this podcast bonus, Mac, Ben, and Jenna talk about the pros and cons of asking, “Why wouldn’t you hire me?” (Spoiler alert: we really like it!)