Going after that big job also means big preparations if you truly intend on making a great first impression. This is the first step to developing your job interview skills.

In this article, I will provide a rather unique approach to ensuring that you stand out from the other applicants applying for the same position. It requires only two things from you: a bit of research and about four to five very important and well-prepared open-ended questions.

For those who don’t know, an open-ended question cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no," or with a specific piece of information; instead, it gives the person answering the question a wider scope to provide the information that seems to him/her most appropriate.

Open-ended questions are sometimes phrased as a statement that requires a response.

Examples of open-ended questions in interviews:

  • Tell me about your corporate company culture.
  • How do you see my future here?
  • Tell me about the management team in this photo?
  • What is the purpose of this role?
  • Why did you choose my candidacy?

Know your company and know your industry. The more information you have, the better you will be at creating these specific and perceptive questions and the better you will look while asking them.

Insight is everything! Skilfully-crafted questions can easily elevate you above the rest. It just takes a bit of homework. If you are ready to spend about an hour in researching and creating these questions, you will have a much better chance of leaving a lasting first impression and landing further interviews.

Here are four basic and important facts you need to know about any company you want to work for.

The prepared questions will be based on the answers to:

  • 1. The length of time that the company has been in existence as an entity and who exactly the founders/current President/GM are
  • 2. The size of the company in terms of annual profits, number of employees, geographical coverage, etc.
  • 3. The company’s specific expansion goals
  • 4. Any new products, innovations or services due to come out soon

Specific, detailed and up-to-date answers to these will help you design and construct your powerful and captivating closing questions and summarize your feelings on taking the opportunity.

Remember to do less talking and more listening, which is achieved by asking open-ended questions such as these:

  • 1. I know that you have been in business now for (exact number of) years, but I would really like to know how many people like myself, have you hired?
  • 2. I know that you’re expanding into (such and such) and new horizons and exciting challenges lay ahead. How can I, with my skill set, help you reach those goals? (state time period here if relevant as well)
  • 3. I understand that you have (such and such) new products and services (coming out/already out), what are some of your immediate expansion goals in terms of going after different segmented markets? What would be my contribution to all of this?
  • 4. Based on your latest findings, how do your public, employers (and shareholders/investors) feel about your expansion goals? Do they know about them? Are they ready?

These are open-ended questions so just listen and let the employer talk. When he/she is finished talking, acknowledge his/her response, then move on to the next question.

You can continue this set of open-ended questions with a few more if you like. The above were just samples that have the proven ability to get people to talk about the company, job, industry or themselves.

Remember you should already know most of the answers to those questions beforehand, based on your research. The point of these questions is to get the employer to open up to you, and talk to you in a real way. In this way, you can gain some control over the conversation and initial communication while finding out exactly what the company is looking for.

Why are these questions important? Because the answers you give will leave you better equipped to give the employer exactly what they need. You will leave a lasting impression, because not only did you do the research and asked the important questions but you truly probed for and acknowledged the company’s needs.

Think inside the box. For example, if you are interviewing with a public company, make sure to download their current annual report. You will gain important insights into perspective opportunities, as well as their significant accomplishments over the last four quarters.

You will also learn how the corporation describes and evaluates its culture and its leaders and which criteria it tends to focus on, such as integrity or leadership traits. Using these words to describe yourself in the interview will better position you as someone of similar corporate style and understanding.

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