Asking questions in a job interview

The SECRET to building INFLUENCE in a job interview

interview ownership value

Influence is built when you know what your audience wants. You can have their full attention. To do this, you need to "consult" with them to discover their needs and discuss the solution.

The Consultative Interview Framework is about…

  • Discovering the needs of the people interviewing you, which are made up of:

» The current situation and their existing needs, motives and problems

» The desired situation in the future and solutions for their problems as well as the goals they want to achieve

» Identifying and analysing the gap between current and desired solutions

  • Discussing how you can help them with solutions to their problems and achieve their goals.


... to suggest a roadmap for moving forward (gap identification) and to help them achieve their goals and objectives (their desired situation).


Discover Needs 


Having established rapport with the interviewer, you can start to ask questions to discover their needs in the role for which you are being interviewed. 


You could bridge the conversation from a light topic to discovering their needs by saying something like:

I appreciate you meeting me today. I’ve been looking forward to learning more about the goals you want to achieve and the challenges you want to overcome through this role. Would you like to ask me some questions first or may I ask you some questions?


This tells them that you are focused on their agenda and would like to find out more about it (before talking about yourself), which is the ideal situation.

You want to know exactly what the challenges and goals are so that you can specifically address how you can help to achieve them. Everything else outside of this is irrelevant to the interviewer(s) and will be forgotten.

They are likely to tell you more about the role, challenges and goals instead of asking you questions about yourself (before you know exactly what their pain points are). This positions you as a consultative and caring professional, so please find out their needs before you talk about yourself or how you can help them achieve their goals.


You will find that most needs are centred around the five hiring motives, and you can safely assume that every single position in an organisation – small or large – will be operating and fuelled by these motives for itself or others:

  • Gain or profit. The position exists to grow revenue and profits (eg sales).

  • Fear of loss. The position exists to save money (eg finance).

  • Satisfaction and comfort. The position exists to make things better or easier (eg HR, customer services).

  • Peace of mind. The position exists to make things more secure (eg IT security).

  • Pride and prestige. The position exists to make the company look good in the world (eg marketing).


When you have permission to go ahead and ask questoons to find out more about the interviewer’s needs for the position, I recommend you ask: 


Discovery questions


Current situation questions

Ask, probe and listen to what the current factors are in the role. If you don’t understand something, clarify it and go deeper. Sometimes it takes four to five questions to get to the heart of a matter. You can also ask about how satisfied the interviewers are right now about the way things are.

 Here are some sample questions to ask to help you understand the current realities:

  • What are the top three challenges or problems you would like the person to tackle in this role?

  • How is this impacting the team and the customer?

  • Who are the key stakeholders in the role?

  • How long has this been a problem?

  • Why did this position become available?


Desired situation questions

Ask, probe and listen to what goals and outcomes the interviewer desires in the role. Sometimes you can achieve the highest mileage by identifying what the interviewer really wants to achieve and their ‘What’s in it for me?’ factor. What are the implications for the interviewer personally? You can then show how you could help them achieve their ideal outcome.


Here are some sample questions to ask to help you understand and achieve the desired goals:

  • What are the top three outcomes and goals you would like to achieve?

  • What are the timeframes in which these need to be achieved?

  • What has been done so far towards achieving these outcomes and goals?

  • What is the impact of success on the team and customer/s?

  • What changes do you anticipate in the next three to six months in this role?


Analyse the gap

Once you can see the gap between where the interviewers are and where they want to be, you are in a position to show them how you will take them from their current situation to their desired situation. You can then bridge the gap by discussing the solution.


This is how you demonstrate value and exert influence in an interview process.

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