My eyes scanned the page, fell on a question that was particularly troubling. I was with Kimberly, a recent transplant to the city, looking for a job. A head hunter asked her to prepare responses to a list of anticipated questions.
Why would I want to hire you?
“Kimberly, the problem with that question is that it invites candidates to make stuff up or outright lie to the interviewer. Most responses will be trite cliches loaded with meaningless crap.”
“So, how should I respond?” insisted Kimberly. “The head hunter said this question will likely be asked.”
“And he’s right, so you need to be prepared. Remember, the interviewer has an expectation of what an acceptable response would be. The interviewer is playing a game, trying to get you to guess a right answer. Guess wrong and you lose.
“My philosophy is, always try to pull hypothetical questions back to your own real experience. It might sound like this:
Frankly, I can’t tell you why you would want to hire me without understanding the criteria you are using to make this hiring decision. But I can tell you why my last employer hired me, and it is related to something very specific to your job posting.
Like your company, my last company had just installed some computer software, but no one was using it. Everyone finished the training, but still no one was using the software. My first task was to design daily administrative routines to get people started immediately. I then designed reconciliation routines to make sure the data was accurate going in. Finally, I developed a schedule of reports so other managers could make decisions about their departments. Within 30 days, we had moved completely off of our manual systems. Which part of that transition would you like to hear more about?
“Remember, Kimberly, a hypothetical question is a trap. Always move the question back to your own real experience.”