Saturday, January 28, 2017

What are the smartest questions ever asked by job applicants to potential employers during job interviews?

"How much can you tell me about what the person who had this job before, who I would be replacing, was like?

And I'd ask this question as early on in the process as I could get it in without sounding too aggressive or intrusive, even before the interview if I could find a way to do it. 

Image result for job interviews

One thing I noticed some time ago - and when I noticed it, I noticed that I do it myself when hiring a replacement for someone - is a tendency we all have, when replacing someone, to get someone that's different in at least one, and probably several, ways from the previous person holding that accountability. 

This is true whether the previous person was a beloved, well-respected employee who served in that accountability for most of his career until retirement; or that person was a dismal failure in that job, who everyone in the workplace hated, who was fired and thrown out in the street after only a few months. 

If the previous person did not work well, needless to say, you don't want to repeat the mistake, you don't want to get someone who's anything like the previous person - and that person's worst qualities will be the first thing on the mind of whoever is selecting the replacement. 

But even the departure of a good employee is an opportunity for something new and a fresh start. You want to pick someone who could, or would, do things you never could get the old one to do. You want to pick someone with some of the same virtues, but you also know that no one can quite fill the shoes of the previous person, and you're looking for areas where a new person can compensate. You're also mindful of the weaknesses of the previous person, no matter what his or her virtues -- the little things that would have driven you nuts but for the fact that this person was so good for what he or she was good for that you let them slide -- and this is your opportunity to replace that person with someone who doesn't have those particular weaknesses.

Consider your own thought process in recent Presidential elections, or the one coming up in 2016. 

If you're an Obama-hatin', conservative, tea-party Republican, needless to say, you're going to vote for someone as different from Obama as you can find even if it's a crackpot like Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann. (After all, look how many people voted for those two nuts in 2012, even though either of them would have been laughed out of a field of candidates that included some viable good candidates.)    

But even if you agree with me that Obama was a not-so-bad President (and I'm not a Democrat), you're going to want -- or at least I want -- someone who can do a better job of playing and getting along well with Congress without being a sellout (to be fair, it's not all - or even mostly - Obama's fault that he couldn't, and I'm glad he didn't sell out, but I'd be looking for someone who might have a better relationship with the Congress and still stick to the things I want him to do); I'd want someone who lays down a harder line on illegal immigration, I'd want someone with a little more sensitivity to social conservatives, but not someone who would go so far as to try to legislate social conservatism. I'd want someone who will work much more aggressively to balance the budget - and look in areas other than 'entitlement programs' or military spending to do it, in addition to cutting out waste in entitlement programs and military spending. 

In summary, the opportunity to elect a new President brings new opportunities, and I'd want someone who I could count on to do things that, even though I've not been unhappy with Obama and realize that he has to set priorities like anyone else in his position, I always kind of wished Obama could find the time, or the will, to do.

So, what I'd be listening for - and much of it would be 'read between the lines' material - are qualities of the other individual that they don't want to see in the new person, and areas where that person was weak, deficient, hesitant, or disinclined to act in some way; where I could bring some strength to compensate. 

I'd then try to highlight my own strengths, and differences that I could make, as appropriate?

Originally appeared on Quora

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