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Be Careful How You Ask (…or risk getting eliminated)

In an interview, both the company and the candidate are asking questions to qualify each other. The company wants to learn if you can fulfill their needs, and you want to ensure the position will give you the complete opportunity you are seeking. In addition to the responsibilities, you are probably interested in information regarding the leadership, culture, compensation, and other intangibles such as exposure to new technologies or investments in your professional education. When phrasing your question, you may be tempted to ask:

What opportunities will I have to work with X technology?, or

What training or coaching will you be providing me in X area?

Both of these questions are common and appropriate. But, be aware that they potentially reflect “me-centric” or short-term thinking to the interviewer. They don’t show your consideration around the company’s immediate needs and long-term possibilities. If the company does not actively have a project with X technology or does not offer training today, they may believe you will be dissatisfied with the opportunity and hence may remove you from consideration.

Instead, you can re-phrase your question to a more “we-centric” and long-term tone by asking something similar to:

I’m excited to see how my current skills apply to this position. When appropriate, I’d enjoy working with X technology to increase my knowledge and support additional needs for the company. What opportunities will I have to work with X technology?

This allows the interviewer to see that you are more focused on the long-term opportunity, and that you concern yourself with how you can add additional value both for yourself and for the company in the future. It is a subtle change of phrasing, but it can make all the difference. What are other ways you could shift your questions to a more “we-centric” and long-term phrasing?


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