The Killer Interview Question That Only the Good Can Answer

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killer interview question
killer interview question that you must use to your advantage

Killer Interview Question

So what is the killer interview question?

The only way to sort out the men from the boys, the sheep from the goats, is to ask them what could go wrong. If they had only done a course on the subject, they wouldn‘t be able to answer. If they had only used it very sparingly then their replies would be very limited.

However if they had extensive experience of a technical area, then they could probably go on at length about the possible problems and their solutions.

Prepare Properly for an Interview
Prepare Properly for an Interview for a contract job

Instead of giving them a technical test, it would be much better to ask them what problems they had had when using the particular skill.

That’s the killer interview question and too few interviewers do that.

Turn the Interview Around

Why not turn the interview round so that you are able to bring out your knowledge of a particular technical area or skill?

Before you go to the interview, have a think of all the things that can go wrong when using the particular skill – and what you have done in the past to make them right.

Go to the interview determined to get this across. Show that you know what can go wrong and you can sort it out. It should be pretty easy at the interview to be able to bring up the topic, one way or another, of the problems that you have had and your solutions.

Main Problems and Solutions

You might want to ask them about the main problems that they have had at their site. Then discuss the solutions with them. You can then go on to state other problems that you have had and what you did to correct them. If they haven‘t come across some of those problems yet, they might be very keen to have you for when they do.

Even if they have come across the problems, by bringing them up you will show that you have a broad based knowledge of the subject and can sort out problems in it.

Pass a Job Interview
Pass a Job Interview before the interview has started

Bad Previous Experience

I once did a series of interviews to find a couple of project managers. I interviewed quite a few people.

They all did well at the first part of the interview, and their CVs seemed great. That’s until I started asking them what could go wrong with a project at the various stages of development, i.e. from scoping and estimating through analysis, programming and testing, to production. The killer interveiw question caught them out.

I was surprised how few problems that they had actually come up against. Even when I came up with a problem myself, and asked how they would sort it out, they just looked at me blankly most of the time.

As there were no other candidates, I took three of them on. However, my initial feelings about them were accurate. They didn‘t know how to run projects, although one managed to do very well in other areas. The other two were a dead loss.

The Problems at Interview

Therefore, if you are an interviewer, the best way to find out who will be able to do a job for you (rather than run a course) is to find out from the candidates which problems they have had in the past, and how they sorted them out.

If they don‘t know this at the interview, then they won‘t be able to solve problems for you when they do come up.

successful interviews for contractors
Successful Interviews for contractors

If you are an interview candidate, make sure that you have prepared a list of what can go wrong and how you would put it right. Go to the interview determined that you are going to get it across.

Interview Can Become Quite Pleasant

They say that companies only take on people that they like. If you are able to talk to them as an equal (or superior) in a subject that they know and like talking about, often the interview becomes quite ‘matey‘ after a while as you talk about common problems met and solved.

You start to get a warm feeling about the whole thing after a while.

It can even be quite enjoyable.

Often you‘ll know that you‘ve got the job as they warm to you and you warm to them. You leave knowing the job is in your pocket.

Killer Interview Question – Set the Agenda

Interviews are about setting the agenda. Interviews are about showcasing what you know, and hiding what you don‘t. They usually also have set times, e.g. an hour.

If you are able to turn the agenda to what you know, then you‘ll often find that they either don‘t have the time, or have satisfied themselves that you know what you are talking about, and won‘t bother asking those searching, testing questions that you don‘t want.

It‘s happened to me before that when they got to the point of the interview where they got to the bit where they were to ask technical questions, they said to me in an embarrassed way ‘You obviously know what you are talking about, so there‘s no need to ask you these’ and closed over the folder that they had the questions in.

I was very thankful for that.

I started the following Monday.

So, prepare for the killer interview question and turn it to your advantage.

Make the interviewer feel positively towards you.

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