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When good interviews turn bad

Have you experienced a job interview for your ideal role that suddenly took a downturn?

Have you asked a single fateful question that switched a positive atmosphere to a frosty one, leaving you waking at 3am to berate yourself? When it comes to finding the right way to ask a tricky question, you need to have some tricks up your sleeve to know how to approach sensitive subjects.

The context behind the open position

Whenever you attend an interview for a new role, it is a given that there is an issue within the firm to which you are applying. It is vital that you understand this issue; for example, it could be the fact that an existing employee has left or that there is some aspect of the organisation that needs additional resource to resolve a problem.

Without knowing the exact nature of the issue, you cannot be sure that you will address it effectively within the interview or that you will be able to deliver the requisite outputs within the role to achieve your objectives and resolve the situation.

As a result, you need to be armed with an effective strategy that enables you to query the rationale behind the role. This is known as ‘business pain’. The challenge is how to raise it without alienating your interviewers by suggesting that there is a point of weakness or failure prompting the creation of the new position.

Positive ways to raise negative subjects

When you are in an interview situation, it is important to maintain a positive tone even when you are looking to address some less-than-positive issues. This is all about using the right language to gain the information you need without criticising the firm in any way.

The following phrases demonstrate how simple it may be to achieve rapport at the same time as accessing information about the position that will enable you to address the issues and position yourself as the ideal candidate to resolve them:

  • What specific challenges has the business faced recently?
  • What are the priorities for the organisation?
  • What impact has X had on recent strategic developments? (After you have established a business issue).
  • What steps have you taken to address this?
  • How do you envisage my role supporting this?

By using positive phrases to identify business pain within the interview, you will be ideally placed to address specific challenges with authority and without causing defensiveness or negativity. Ultimately, business pain is key to organisational improvement and business growth; therefore, having the skills to understand it while keeping the interviewer engaged is a real strength to assist you in landing your next dream role.

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