Cocktail Napkins, Interview Questions, and Landing a Job

Cocktail Napkins, Interview Questions, and Landing a Job

I have a friend who has a way of making people aware of his interest in them as friends. He always greets people with questions that allow people to talk about themselves and their families. With me, for example, he asks how I have been. He asks about my wife and each of my children.

In a job interview, there are questions both sides should ask.  Standard questions to establish rapport and build knowledge.  Standard company questions about why you would want to work for this company, why the job is vacant, or the career path to which this job leads.

In a social setting, asking questions that you have typed on a written agenda would not seem appropriate.  However, in a job interview, asking questions from a typed agenda is the best way to stay organized, on balance, or regain your balance.

I often find that the person who does the better job of preparing typed written material before an interview comes out way ahead of applicants who interview without a typed up agenda.

Many great ideas were born on cocktail napkins, including Southwest Airlines, The Iron Man Triathlon, and “A Few Good Men.” Source: 10 Things Created Over a Couple of Beers – mental_floss.

Comically, an applicant of mine actually went into an interview without any prepared material except for questions that he had written on a cocktail napkin.  The company had two applicants and one job.  This guy finished second.

If you are interview with several people in the same day, should you ask the same questions more than once?  I would say that you should definitely ask the same question more than once.  You may learn a lot about a company and its people by comparing their answers.

What do you do if you want a job but do not have any questions?  You should ask questions that enable you to know that the reasons you want the job are in fact true.  For example, you want a job because you see the company is in a safe convenient location or that the company has an excellent benefit program or wonderful work environment.  Ask about the location, the benefit program, or the work environment.  I have had hiring managers tell me that they already know if they are going to hire a person within five minutes of the person walking in the door and that they spend the next hour asking question to confirm what they believe to be true.

Image: Colin Kinner/Flickr

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