When you are selling you need to know what the customer is buying
If you have been reading this blog, you are aware that I view the interview as a sales call. For a job candidate to prepare and present well in an interview, they need to know exactly what the hiring manager is looking for in an employee (upon what factors are they basing the buying/hiring decision?). Initially, the best place to find what the hiring manager is looking for is in the advertised job posting. Once you are in the interview process, you should be asking focused questions to get the full scope of the job requirements.
The hiring organization has the responsibility of providing a meaningful job description. A good job description should include the following:
* The what, where, when, and why of the job, and how the job fits into the bigger picture of the organization. This is a detailed description of the basic functions of the job and it will help you align your expectations with the expectations of the hiring manager.
* A clear definition of the job in terms of time spent, expected output/outcomes, or other success measures.
* A description of the how the job functions within the department and within the larger organization. Without a clear definition of boundaries, there are likely to be disputes over whose responsibility a particular task is, with either task redundancy or tasks “falling through the cracks.
As mentioned above, it is the company’s responsibility to provide a good job description. However, good job descriptions are fairly rare. When you are not provided with a good job description, it becomes your task to elicit the information you need to write your own job description. Similar to a sales person working with a customer who is unsure of what they need, your task is to ask good questions, listen carefully, and reflect back to the hiring manager what you understand about the job requirements. Once you have fully defined the position requirements, you can position your skills background and experiences against those requirements and present yourself as the best choice for the job.
Here are some questions that will help define the job requirements:
* What are three or four “must have” qualifications for a person to be selected for this position?
* What skill sets are required to be successful in this position?
* What are the most important personal characteristics for a person in this position?
* What are the important issues that need to be addressed immediately?
* What does a typical day look like for a person in this position?
* What made the last person on this job successful?
* What difficulties did the last person in this position have?
* What kind of planning and organizing does the job entail?
* What do you consider the greatest overall challenge(s) of this position?
* Could you tell me about the way the job has been performed in the past? And, what improvements you’d like to see happen?
* What are the biggest obstacles to performing this position well?