It’s tempting to look upon the dreaded “do you have any questions for us” segment of the job interview as just another hurdle to get over. But if you use your opportunity to interview the interviewer, you can learn more about the job and the company than you did during the previous hour of conversation. The trick is to use skills perfected by seasoned interviewers like Ira Glass of “This American Life.”
In an interview with Slate, Glass gives his perspective on what makes a good interviewer, and in doing do, gives us a couple things to think about the next time we’re confronted with the need to get answers about our career.
1. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes.
The best interviewers, according to Glass, try to imagine themselves in the experience of the other person.
“That’s one of the things I really love about Terry Gross, is that often she’ll be thinking through the other person’s experience,” he tells Slate’s Jacob Weisberg.
It doesn’t really matter whether you’re interviewing someone about issues of national security or trying to figure out if the corporate culture of Start-up A is right for you. Trying to look at things from the perspective of the interviewer will help you hear what they’re saying … and guess at what they’re not saying.
2. Make the subject talk more by bringing yourself into the conversation.
“When you’re interviewing somebody, if you want somebody to tell you a story, one of the easiest ways is if you’re telling them a story. It’s hard to be a person and not respond that way,” says Glass.
It also makes the conversation, well, more conversational. Although no one would suggest that you monopolize the interview by talking solely about yourself, relating your experience to the gig and company will help the interviewer visualize you in the job.
3. Know that, secretly, everyone is just bumbling around.
Even Ira Glass gets nervous, especially in unedited, real-life situations.
“It isn’t like when I’m talking into the microphone on the radio I feel like now I’m really getting down with somebody, but I feel like in an interview situation, it’s a kind of intimacy that I can understand and handle, versus in real life when I’m much more of a bumbler and have a hard time … I just have a harder time feeling close to people without self-consciousness,” he says.
For more of Glass’s wisdom, listen to the interview on Slate.
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