The “one” question you need to answer in an employment interview 1

Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a series of mock interviews at at Private Career College here in Toronto.

Despite some reservations it was a great experience. For those of us over fifty, connecting with young(er) people is invaluable on many levels.

I have spend over 25 years in the employment business, first as an executive recruiter, and most recently as a career coach. I have always been interested in interview questions. Which ones extract the best information, reveal the candidate’s personality and so forth. I’m not talking about trick questions like” if you were a colored pencil which color would you be?” Such questions are nonsense. I mean the kind of probing questions that reveal meaningful, measurable information that allows a determination as to a candidate’s suitability for a particular position.

Over my career I have played with many interview models and questions but I was reminded during my recent mock interview experience that near the end of my recruiting career I focused on only one question “ What makes you extraordinary?”
Consider that during that average recruitment process hundreds of candidates may be whittled down to five finalists.  At that point, those finalists all have the necessary skills to do the job.

So what does the potential employer really want to know about the candidates? They want to be able to differentiate and select one to hire. The employer wants to know what makes each one extraordinary.

This should make you really think about how you approach interviews. A simple recitation of your responsibilities and accomplishments is not enough. They require context. Without that, you will not distinguish yourself from your competition.

I have often said that every interview question is the same question in disguise, “Why should I hire you?” and I still think that that is true. But how you answer requires the context of what makes you extraordinary.

I have also often said that in an interview never cross the line between pride and conceit, and I think there is still wisdom in this. But next time you are anticipating an interview try preparing your answers in the “what makes me extraordinary” framework. It just might land you your next job.

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One thought on “The “one” question you need to answer in an employment interview

  • Gates bisson

    Excellent point Frank
    How true how true.
    Leaving an impactful impression
    That will deferentiate you from the
    Other candidates will make a difference.
    Gates Bisson 🐼