Posted: by HRNasty in Job Interview Tips, What Recruiters Really Think

best job interview question

Don’t leave your interview to chance. Ask the million dollar question!

Best job interview question to ask the hiring manager

You found a job you were perfectly qualified for, put together a beautiful cover letter, and submitted your resume.  A few days later, the miracle of miracles takes place.  You receive an email from the recruiter wanting to set up an initial phone screen. Go out and buy a lotto ticket Pookie, because today is your lucky day!

Even though you felt you were perfectly qualified for the job it was still like finding a rest stop on a long trip after a 72 ounce BigGulp when the recruiter emailed you. You are both happy and “relieved” when you read the email.  It wasn’t the “Dear John We received many resumes for this position and will call you if you are qualified” email.  It was the “Hey you’re cute, call me”, email with digits attached.  Our face goes flush, we get excited and can’t believe our luck.  “She called me!  She is interested in me! I gotta buy a new shirt and shine my shoes!”

Then, in anticipation of the first date, self-doubt comes a knockin’.  Worries about about what to wear to the interview and “Will they like me?” crept into your mind. One minute we think we are going to be working at Acme Publishing and the next minute we don’t think we have a chance. The Lord giveth a good feeling and the Lord taketh away.

You naturally assume that 150 resumes were submitted for the same position and you are probably right. We know that the completion will be stiff.  If we were interested in the positions, why wouldn’t other candidates be interested as well?

WHY DID THEY CALL ME?

And this is where the interview goes to crap.  If there is self-doubt before the phone screen has even started, then baby – you are going down.

I am here to tell you that you shouldn’t have any self-doubt and how you can eliminate your insecurities.

It’s a 3-part process:

Step 1:  Remove all doubt

Remember, the recruiter reached out to you! You don’t care how many others applied; it only takes a single person to fill the position and the recruiter called you. If the recruiter is calling you, then you are probably qualified. You are not under qualified, you are not over qualified, just like Goldilocks, you are “just right”.

Close your eyes and repeat after me: “The recruiter called me, the recruiter called me, the recruiter called me”.
Trust me, the recruiter didn’t pick your name out of hat like a raffle and they didn’t throw darts at a dartboard. The recruiter isn’t going to waste their time on someone that isn’t qualified, almost qualified or even 150% over qualified.
Companies receive enough resumes that they can be very choosey. Setting up interviews with folks that are under qualified by 10% to overqualified by 30% increases the candidate pool exponentially.  Remember, this recruiter isn’t just working on your position; they are working on 10 others at a minimum, in some case 30 different positions. They are ONLY setting up phone screens with candidates that are perfectly matched to what they are looking for. (This is why we tailor our resume to each job description!)

Step 2:  Establish professional rapport

Most recruiters will send an email to set up the initial phone call.  Send back an email that conveys excitement and professionalism.  The day before the phone screen, send a professional email that confirms the appointment the next day.  If someone confirms an appointment the day before, the chance of the meeting being canceled or rescheduled goes down significantly. They committed not once, but twice.

Recruiter Bob,

I just wanted to check in and confirm we were still on for tomorrow at 3:00. I am really looking forward to learning more about the opportunity. I am happy to call you or I can be reached at xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Thanks!

Johnny Candidate

 

Step 3: Take notes on the $1M dollar job interview question

Before the interview starts, have the job description in front of you.

When the recruiter calls, answer with enthusiasm and explain you are excited about the interview.

You will be able to tell within the first 5 seconds of the call if the recruiter is going to “INTERVIEW” you, or this is going to be a “conversation”.  Either way, the best job interview question we need to ask in the first few minutes of the interview is the following:

“Bob, Acme Publishing is a great place to work and this sounds like a great opportunity.  I am sure you received a lot of resume’s and interest for this position. Can I ask you what it was about my resume that stuck out to you enough to call”?

We are not asking job interview question in an insecure sounding voice like we can’t believe we were called.  We are asking this as a probing question so we can close the sale.

Then take notes and write down exactly what they say and have it in front of you as you go through the interview

Job descriptions can be 700 to 1000 words but more often-than-not, they are generic and rarely give the applicant very much to go on.  The bottom half of most job descriptions can be interchanged between the same job title between different companies!  It can be very hard to figure out what a company is looking for from most job descriptions because no company wants to list what they are REALLY looking for. If a company listed what it was really looking for, they would be sued.  With the above listed question, you will hear EXACTLY what it was about YOUR resume that got the hiring manager interested. With this information, you know what to focus on, what questions to ask and how to tailor your answers with specific examples of your prior behavior

Your resume and LinkedIn profiles may be multiple pages long, but for each candidate, there are only 1 or two things that really resonated with the recruiter and hiring manager that made them think, “This is the one”.  We need to figure out what that is and reinforce these qualities, and this is why we need to ask the most specific job interview question we can.

This question does one other thing that is critical to your interview success. This question makes for a great set up so that later on in the conversation, you can ask, “Earlier, I asked you what you liked about my resume. What experiences or examples are you looking for that are not listed on my resume?”  This is not a yes or no question.  We are not asking “Am I missing any skill sets”?  We are asking for specific examples.  

Candidates ask me if they have any weaknesses on a regular basis and when I reply, they rarely close me. The “What was it in my resume that caught your attention”? question puts the hiring manager in a situation where they are closing themselves.  

Want to get to the heart of the matter? Find out what the recruiter is really looking for and why they think you are the right person for the job by asking the smart job interview question.

See you at the after party,

HRNasty

nasty:  an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something. E.G.  “He has a nasty fork ball”.

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  • KimCoach

    Just when I think you’ve shared the best HR advice ever . . . you share another insightful post. Thanks.

    • Kim, Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the compliment. Glad the posts are resonating with you! HRNasty

  • Stepping Out on Faith

    This article reeeally resonated with me, because I actually have a phone interview tomorrow with a recruiter for a job that I feel unqualified for although the recruiter found me! Self-doubt was eating away at my confidence before I read this article, so thank you for reminding me that if I cant sell myself on my abilities and skill sets, how the heck can I sell the recruiter?! By the way, I will def be asking the recruiter what is was about my resume that prompted her to contact me. Excellent advice!!

    • Stepping Out on Faith,
      Love the name and thanks for stopping by. Congrats on the phone interview and glad the piece resonated. You made my day that it is helping! Yes, remember, no recruiter has time to call candidates just to chat or kick your tires. They are calling because they see something in the resume or cover letter. The trick is to find out what they see and reinforce those qualities with specific examples. If they say we see you are a hardworker, we don’t want to just say “yes, I am a hard worker”. We want to give specific examples of the hard work. Mention specifically 12 hour days to hit deadlines, or working one on one with customers till they were satisfied. Specific examples will reinforce what they are looking for. Good Luck tomorrow! HRN