By Joe Stein
There are a number of reasons to ask questions during an interview. Sometimes the reason is obvious, such as to gather some piece of information, but questions can also be used as a strategic aspect of the interview on your behalf.
The question of “What Can I Tell You About My Qualifications” is one example of how you can go on the “offensive” when you are given the floor for questions. Let’s take a deeper dive regarding this question in order for you to determine if it works for you.
Why Should You Ask It?
· Make Sure Everything is Covered – You don’t want the Interviewer making a decision regarding your next steps while wishing they had more information. If an Interviewer is missing information, you may receive an additional call for more details, but the majority of the time it will result in you being placed in the “regret” pile. Asking this question allows you to leave your interview with the assurance that it ended with all needed information covered.
· Place Focus on You – You generally want the core of the interview focused on you and your qualifications. Asking this question allows this focus (or re-focus) to occur. This question is especially important if you feel the Interviewer became distracted with something questionable (i.e., your work history, length of your commute) which took away time from your qualifications. This should improve your candidacy by focusing on strengths.
· Deemphasizes a Weakness – Similar to above is if you have a weakness (or more than one) and you do not want that to be the focus or the lasting thought of the Interviewer. You want to continue re-shift the focus away from a negative and towards what you can do to add value to the organization. This will keep you on the offensive instead of having to explain away something that is a concern.
· Comes Across Well – When asking this question, it is fairly easy to come across as someone thorough and considerate to the Interviewer. This question should leave the Interviewer feeling that you have “strong attention to detail”. It should also reflect just how important the interview was to you, since you wanted to make sure everything was completely covered.
· Away From The Routine – I think we are all familiar with the routine questions that are asked; usually, they are based on something that was read or heard. As an Interviewer, I sometimes feel like I am on auto-pilot as I am asked the same questions, over and over. This question breaks away from the routine, somewhat and provides some freshness to the discussion.
Examples Of How It Can Be Asked:
· “Is There Anything Else I Can Tell You?” – This is an acceptable alternative; however, I still like the focus to be placed on qualifications instead of being open-ended. Asking the question in this manner opens the door for the Interviewer to go back on a subject that perhaps you would prefer to keep closed.
· What Can I Tell You About “X?” – Fill in the blank regarding the “X”. You may insert skills, work history, education, etc. Personally, I like “qualifications” because that is ultimately what you should be judged and hired (or not) on.
How Not To Ask the Question:
· Ask “What Did We Miss” – Asking the question in this way places the focus on the Interviewer and what he or she did not do. There may be some Interviewers who may be taken aback by you moving the discussion in this direction. You don’t want the Interviewer feeling like he or she is on the defensive.
· Make It A Statement – This is not your time to go on a long-winded speech regarding your candidacy. If you do not participate in the Q&A format as expected, you may leave several poor impressions upon the Interviewer, such as not following the rules, not listening, or having a large ego. A key is to have the interaction seem natural, like it is part of a discussion.
The Q&A portion of the interview is a crucial time for you to gather information and also, to further sell yourself. Take advantage of the natural give and take of this portion of the interview by asking questions that will allow you the time to provide information regarding why you should be hired.
As always, best of luck in your job search.