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The Two Most Important Interview Questions

When interviewing for a new job, there are hundreds of potential questions interviewers can sling at you.

Some are a given: “Tell me about yourself…”

Some are insightful: “Where do you see our industry in five years?”

Some are ridiculous: “If you could be an animal, which would you be?”

Some are illegal: “How old are you?”

On aggregate, all the interview questions you will face are really designed to answer two questions.

The first is pretty obvious: “Can this person do this job?” Every interview for a position is to determine if you have the skills, experience, education, and personality traits to be able to do the job – or the potential (and willingness) to learn how to do the job.

The second question comes down to the hiring manager: “Will this person make my job easier or harder?” It can be a complex calculus to get an answer for this one. On a basic level, the hiring manager is gauging if the two of you will mesh – if they can see themselves managing you. They are considering how you will get along with the team, how much training they will have to invest in you to get you up to speed? Do they see you as a cultural fit?

They will also be somewhat selfish – if there is stuff on their plate that they see you able to take on? During the interview, you need to consider what the win for the manager is in hiring the right person. Will they hit their bonus if you perform? Will they be able to see more of their kid’s baseball games? Will they be able to focus more on the high-level aspects of their job? Will their phone stop ringing at 3am?

To get the job, a candidate needs both questions answered in the affirmative. During the interview, try to keep score as you go. Are you getting your point across? Have they asked enough of the right questions to reach a positive conclusion about your abilities? If you can convince them that you not only can do the job, or quickly get up to speed, AND be an asset to the manager, you will get the offer.

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