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The Four Types of Qualifying Questions

Can You Do the Job?

AS mentioned in Chapter 2, the very first question an employer is going to ask any candidate is "Can you do the job?" In my experience—and this may be surprising—your ability to do the job is only about 20% of the hiring decision. Now, it is the FIRST 20% "threshold" that a candidate has to cross before he or she can be considered, but it only accounts for about 20%.

Most candidates get really upset when they don't get hired but are told they are the most qualified candidate. Most candidates don't understand that any candidate who gets beyond the first two interviews is "qualified" to do the job (at least in someone's opinion).

But being qualified, even the most qualified, won't get you hired. In addition to being qualified, the candidates who get hired are the ones who sell themselves better than anyone else, as mentioned in previous chapters. The candidates who are liked better than the others, prove to be less risk than other candidates, and are the ones who are the most affordable are the ones that get the jobs.

Now, having said this, a candidate still has to establish his or her ability to do the job. It is the very first group of questions you will get. You have to answer them well to get to the other questions. But the essential step beyond that is selling yourself.

These are going to be factual, "What did you do"—type questions. The interviewing authority is trying to discover your skill level or potential. There are going to be only four or five factual aspects of your work history that will either get you to the second interviewing stage or eliminate you. Remember, just four or five facts, and it either supports or detracts from what you say you can do. Some factual accomplishments might be:

Graduated at the top of my class

Got promoted three times in three years

Was 130% of sales quota two years in a row

Survived three layoffs

Was recognized as_______ by my (company, superiors, peers, etc.)

Provide any facts that can be benefits to the employer. The further into the interviewing process you get, the more focused your facts might be. For instance, if you find that there has been a lot of turnover in the position you are interviewing for, you can emphasize your stability in previous positions.

So, let's look at some of the common questions interviewees are asked, and how you can best answer them so you can move to the next phase in the interview process on the way to getting a job offer.

How Do Your Skills and Experience Fit?

Tell me about yourself and your last few jobs.

Whatever you do to answer this question, don't start out with, "I was born and raised in . . ." The interviewing authority is trying to find out exactly what you have been doing professionally so he or she can assess your ability to do this job. He or she doesn't care where you were born or raised.

What kind of job are you looking for?

In other words, "Is what you're looking for the same thing that I'm looking for?" If you have done your research, you will know exactly what kind of position you are interviewing for. If not, then the answer is, "I'm looking for a position that is going to help make a company better and challenge me based on my experience and background."

Describe in detail your last two positions.

Even if you did a good job of your presentation on the last two or three jobs you had (what you did, how you did it, for whom you did it, and how successful you were), you still may get this question. Basically, give exactly the same description that you gave in the presentation of your professional background and expertise, but maybe with a little more detail. Be sure to precede your answer to this question with, "I really loved that job" or, "I really love the job that I'm on now" and then explain in fair detail what you do. Ask the question, "Did I make it clear?" One can "love a job" but still be laid off, downsized, fired, not make enough money, not get promoted, etc. There are lots of reasons to have to change jobs, even if people love what they do. In fact, any disparaging comments about a present or previous job can kill a person's chances of being hired.

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