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  • Probing for Pain Points in an Interview

    Detective photo from ShutterstockProbing for Pain Points?

    Probing for pain points should be one of your first steps in an interview. Every business has problems. Your first job is to ask probing questions to uncover those pain points.

    Initial Phone Screen

    Most of the time in the interview process, there will be an initial phone screen with either a recruiter or HR professional. Your first questions should include:

    • Is this a newly created position?
    • What are the responsibilities of the position?
    • Are these responsibilities new to the department, organization or company?
    • What new business requirements that are causing you to fill this position?

    What you are looking for is insight into whether this is a newly created position and whether these are new responsibilities. If it is new, then they are likely working on solving an existing problem. If it an existing position, why is the position currently vacant?

    You will want to be a detective. Ask probing questions looking for problems. You are looking for problems that you know how to solve!

    Post Phone Screen

    Now you need to do your research. Check on LinkedIn to see who currently or in the near past had the title for this job. Did this person leave the company or move to a different department? Connect with this person on LinkedIn and ask for 15 minutes on the phone to ask for AIR, advice, insights and recommendations.

    If they left the company, ask them why. You may find that you do not want to work there!

    If they moved to a new department, ask them whether it was a lateral move or a promotion. If it was a promotion make sure and congratulate them. If it was a lateral move, ask about the business reasons for the move.

    Carefully read anything and everything about the company looking for pain points. It may be that the company is growing fast or moving into new markets or sales have stalled. What are the potential problems?

    Interview Questions

    Bring with you a minimum of five pain point questions to the interview. They should be open ended questions to uncover problems that you have already thought about how you would solve them.

    • Are you satisfied with current growth of the business?
    • Are you meeting service level agreement targets with all of you important clients?
    • What are the areas where you are having problems meeting deadlines?

    Notice that all of these are open ended questions. Your goal is to get the interviewer give you insight into the pain points that you know how to solve.

    Pain Points Uncovered

    Once the pain points have been uncovered you can explain how you have solved these problems in the past.

    The best way to do this is to tell stories how you previously solved the same or similar problems for your employer.

    Let me tell you about the time when I encountered …..

    This demonstrates that you have the skills to do the job.

    So plan on being a detective. By asking good probing questions looking for pain points shows that you have done your homework about their business. The more you uncover the better you can demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job!

    Marc MillerCareer Pivot

    Check out my book Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

    Do not forget to follow me on Twitter or FaceBook

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    Marc Miller is the founder of Career Pivot which helps Baby Boomers design careers they can grow into for the next 30 years. Marc authored the book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers published in January 2013, which has been featured on Forbes.com, US News and World Report, CBS Money-Watch and PBS’ Next Avenue. Career Pivot was selected for the Forbes Top 100 Websites for your Career. Marc has made six career pivots himself, serving in several positions at IBM in addition to working at two successful Austin, Texas startups, teaching math in an inner-city high school and working for a local non-profit. Learn more about Marc and Career Pivot by visiting the Career Pivot Blog or follow Marc on Twitter or Facebook.

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