Start with the present and tell why you are well qualified for the position. Remember that the key to all successful interviewing is to match your qualifications to what the interviewer is looking for. In other words you must sell what the buyer is buying. This is the single most important strategy in job haunting.
So, before you answer this or any question its imperative that you try to uncover your interviewer's greatest need, want, problem or goal.
To do so you may follow these steps provided below.
all the homework you can before the interview to uncover this person's
wants and needs (not the generalized needs of the industry or company)
As early as you can in the interview, ask for a
more complete description of what the position entails. You might say: “I have
a number of accomplishments I'd like to tell you about, but I want to make the
best use of our time together and talk directly to your needs. To help me do,
that, could you tell me more about the most important priorities of this
position? All I know is what I (heard from the recruiter, read in the
classified ad, etc.)”
Then, ALWAYS follow-up with a second and possibly, third
question, to draw out his needs even more. Surprisingly, it's usually this
second or third question that unearths what the interviewer is most looking
You might ask simply, "And in addition to
that?..." or, "Is there anything else you see as essential to success
in this position?:
This process will not feel easy or natural at first,
because it is easier simply to answer questions, but only if you uncover the
employer's wants and needs will your answers make the most sense. Practice
asking these key questions before giving your answers, the process will feel
more natural and you will be light years ahead of the other job candidates
you're competing with.
After uncovering what the employer is looking for,
describe why the needs of this job bear striking parallels to tasks you've
succeeded at before. Be sure to illustrate with specific examples of your
responsibilities and especially your achievements, all of which are geared to
present yourself as a perfect match for the needs he has just described.
Tell me honestly about the
strong points and weak points of your boss (company, management team, etc.)
Remember the rule: Never be negative. Stress only the good points, no
matter how charmingly you’re invited to be critical.
Your interviewer doesn’t care a whit about your previous
boss. He wants to find out how loyal and positive you are, and whether you’ll
criticize him behind his back if pressed to do so by someone in this own
company. This question is your opportunity to demonstrate your loyalty to those
you work with.
now you can see how critical it is to apply the overall strategy of uncovering
the employer’s needs before you answer questions. If you know the employer’s
greatest needs and desires, this question will give you a big leg up over other
candidates because you will give him better reasons for hiring you than anyone
else is likely to…reasons tied directly to his needs.
Whether your interviewer asks you this question explicitly
or not, this is the most important question of your interview because he must
answer this question favorably in is own mind before you will be hired. So help
him out! Walk through each of the position’s requirements as you understand
them, and follow each with a reason why you meet that requirement so well.
I understand your needs, you are first and foremost looking for someone who can
manage the sales and marketing of your book publishing division. As you’ve said
you need someone with a strong background in trade book sales. This is where
I’ve spent almost all of my career, so I’ve chalked up 18 years of experience
exactly in this area. I believe that I know the right contacts, methods,
principles, and successful management techniques as well as any person can in
“You also need someone who can expand your book
distribution channels. In my prior post, my innovative promotional ideas
doubled, then tripled, the number of outlets selling our books. I’m confident I
can do the same for you.”
“You need someone to give a new shot in the arm to your
mail order sales, someone who knows how to sell in space and direct mail media.
Here, too, I believe I have exactly the experience you need. In the last five
years, I’ve increased our mail order book sales from $600,000 to $2,800,000,
and now we’re the country’s second leading marketer of scientific and medical
books by mail.” Etc., etc., etc.,
Every one of these selling “couplets” (his need matched by your
qualifications) is a touchdown that runs up your score. IT is your best opportunity
to outsell your competition.
The only right answer is to describe what this company is offering,
being sure to make your answer believable with specific reasons, stated with
sincerity, why each quality represented by this opportunity is attractive to
Remember that if you’re coming from a company that’s the
leader in its field or from a glamorous or much admired company, industry, city
or position, your interviewer and his company may well have an “Avis” complex. That
is, they may feel a bit defensive about being “second best” to the place you’re
coming from, worried that you may consider them bush league.
This anxiety could well be there even though you’ve done
nothing to inspire it. You must go out of your way to assuage such anxiety,
even if it’s not expressed, by putting their virtues high on the list of
exactly what you’re looking for, providing credible reason for wanting these
If you do not express genuine enthusiasm for the firm, its
culture, location, industry, etc., you may fail to answer this “Avis” complex
objection and, as a result, leave the interviewer suspecting that a hot shot
like you, coming from a Fortune 500 company in New York,
just wouldn’t be happy at an unknown manufacturer based in Topeka, Kansas.