Asking Questions in an Interview

As a hiring manager, I recently interviewed a candidate and, having modeled my practices of thought after those of the great consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, I quickly noticed an emerging pattern: the candidate said almost nothing relevant, yet spent almost the entire duration of the interview asking questions and, thereafter, sharing related experiences. The questions asked weren’t really superficial questions, but deeper questions about me, the company, etc. As the candidate continued, I immediately recalled a tactic from a book I had read, years prior, on proactive interview techniques.

The tactic was designed such that the candidate positioned his or her self in such a way as to *trick* the interviewer into treating him or her as though he or she were already a colleague. In doing so, said candidate would hold more weight in the interviewer’s mind.

After studying psychology for many years now, I realize this tactic is based on the premise of mutual self-disclosure, the process of communication through which a relationship is formed as individuals reveal themselves to each other on a non-superficial level. Although I’m not sure whether it was the candidate’s intent to employ this tactic, I was very turned off by it. The experience with the last few candidates led me to sharing a few suggestions I have on interviewing:

  • Be honest: If you don’t know the answer to a question or don’t have the experience the hiring manager is asking about, be honest about it. If you lie, we’ll most likely catch it and, when we do, you’re done.
  • Be passionate: Unless you’re going for a job in solitary confinement, show your hiring manager how passionate you are about the job, the field, etc. It’s easy to find people who don’t give a fuck. It’s much harder to find someone passionate.
  • Don’t be arrogant: While you may think you’re a beautiful snowflake, statistically, it’s highly probable you’re not that special. So, unless you’re really the bees knees, don’t push it. You never know what your hiring manager’s experience is and whether you’ll just end up looking like an arrogant asshole.
  • Don’t try to pull a fast one on the hiring manager: We interview many, many candidates. We’ve seen every trick in the book.
  • Don’t answer a question with a question: If you’ve been asked a question, you’re expected to answer it. If you would like something clarified before answering it, that’s fine. But, if you want to go off on a tangent and hope we forget you didn’t answer it, you’re done.