Asking about Questions

Over at The Ladders, career coach Lee E. Miller advises about a question lots of interviewees get: Tell me about yourself.

Mr Miller is right about one thing: this question shouldn’t take an interviewee by surprise. An interviewee should be poised and confident, and shouldn’t hesitate to describe themselves or their experiences. After all, providing compelling descriptions about yourself — compelling enough to decide that you’re a hire — is what interviewing is all about for the candidate.

But I think he blows it in one critical regard. He says that the wrong answer is to ask “what would you like to know?” and explains that such a response indicates the candidate hasn’t prepared.

I couldn’t disagree more. A candidate who asks such a question is showing respect for the interviwer’s time. He can assume he knows what the interviewer wants, but wouldn’t it be better to make sure his information and conclusions are correct? If he can confirm that he’s going to attack the right targets, then he’s in much better shape than someone who’s got the wrong idea and starts off in the wrong direction.

Mr Miller asserts that a candidate asking this question isn’t prepared, and wouldn’t be prepared on the job. That seems like an illogical conclusion; one’s instantaneous performance for a single, out-of-domain question probably doesn’t forecast their performance for their at-work tasks. Further, if we supposed Mr Miller’s  brand of conclusion were correct, we could also assume a candidate who doesn’t ask this question is someone who would assume they were right and commit to a direction which they haven’t previously verified. How many experienced managers have worked with an employee — a new hire, in particular — who went off in a certain direction without verifying that direction was in the best interests of the company and all the stakeholders in the matters touched by that work?

After all, that’s what Mr Miller is insisting the candidate should do.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *