I love articles on career advice and interviews. A few years ago, it was both a shock and a revelation to me when I learned that an interview is not just the recruiter firing away questions at a candidate, instead it is a constructive dialog between the two parties. An interview is a short process. As much as a company wants to size their candidate up quickly, the candidate also needs to learn about the company.
To help gain insights about each other, three simple words you can use during the interview are: "Tell Me More."
Or some variant of it. Here are my thoughts.
The Candidate’s Perspective
A while ago, I wrote about some good questions to ask a future employer. So far I have only had the perspective of an interviewee. How can I use the words 'Tell me more' to the best advantage?
Let’s say you’re discussing on-the-job expectations during the first 6 months. You ask the interviewer how your performance will be appraised, and she tells you the way things work. Most likely you want to know more. So here’s your chance to follow up with ‘Can you tell me more about that?’ If your interviewer is pleased to elaborate and tell you more about the appraisal process, it’s a good sign that the company is transparent with the process and wants their employees to be fully clear about it. However, if you get a vague answer, or that you will get to know about it once you start working, well, you can’t miss the red flag here.
Be polite but determined to learn about the job. It’s not going to be pleasant finding out ambiguous role definitions once you start the job.
The Interviewer’s Perspective
Most interviewers are experts in their field, and I believe they can tell a good candidate from a bad one majority of the time. Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to learn as much as you can about someone you might be working with.
Consider a project manager interviewing a candidate for a technical position. You want to be sure about his technical ability. I have experienced (from the interviewee end of the table) that the usual way to learn the candidate’s technical prowess is to discuss their past projects, ask about the challenges, and how they solved them. Isn’t there a chance someone could fake their way through this? Possible.
If I were interviewing someone, I’d rely on a candidate’s comfort level when asked to explain more ('Tell me more'). For instance, you’re discussing a challenge from a past project. Get curious (genuinely) and dig for deeper information. An honest candidate is likely to get excited and will be happy to go into full detail.
Do you have some thoughts or feedback? Tell me more.