The Job Interview Distilled Down to Three Questions

by Brian Skory

Forbes Magazine featured an article recently where they interviewed top executive recruiters on the topic of interview questions. True to the 80/20 principle (in this case, 80% of what you need to know about a candidate will come from 20% of the interview questions), top recruiters agreed that these three questions that reveal the most about candidates.

Can you do the job? From the moment you decide to respond to that job posting, your primary mission is to communicate total competence for that role. This begins with understanding as much as you can about it. What can your recruiter tell you about this position? What can you find out from the company Web site and from Internet searches? Modify your resume as needed so that it screams, “I’d be great in this role!” And then make sure you communicate it well in the interview.

Will you love the job? I’ve noticed a common theme with hiring managers who call me after an interview telling me, “I really liked that candidate.” Those same candidates had come back to me after the interview telling me, “I love the sound of this job.” Whether you view it in these terms or not, you are selling yourself in an interview—and nothing sells like enthusiasm. Hiring managers like candidates who are excited about the role. If this looks like work you would truly enjoy doing, be sure to let the interviewer know that. Additionally, asking well thought out questions about the work can similarly convey definite interest and enthusiasm for the role.

Can we tolerate working with you? I think that a more accurate version of this question would be, “Will we enjoy working with you?” And that depends a lot on if you are a cultural fit for their environment. Being able to answer that question starts with knowing what type of an environment you enjoy. Do you enjoy a fast-paced, environment? Or maybe you enjoy a project that you will work on over a long period of time for multiple releases. Do you enjoy a collaborative environment? Do you enjoy an open space or a heads-down atmosphere? Be clear about what your needs are in this area, and then be even clearer about what the company you are interviewing with has to offer. Many, if not most, employee separations are due to a cultural mismatch, not a deficiency in technology skill.

Give some adequate thought to these three questions from both perspectives and you’ll not only maximize your chances of getting hired but of finding a fulfilling and long-term position.
As always, we at Stout Systems are interested in hearing how your job search is going. Feel free to drop us an email at
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