Remember ABC’s “Who wants to be a millionaire?” Well, there really are million dollar questions that could make or break your future outside of television game shows. If you’re an applicant for a job opening, the good news is this is your cheat sheet. And if you’re in human resources, the same goes for you. Below are five questions both employers and applicants should take the time to consider. The way in which these million dollar questions are answered may just make a big difference in your career no matter which side you’re on.
Q: Why are you here?
A: If you’re an interviewee, don’t panic when you’re asked this question. The interviewer knows you had an appointment with he or she. The goal of asking you why you’re there isn’t intended to throw you off. The intention is to find out a few things about you. Think about it. Why are you there? What has you in the market for a new job? Are you unhappy with your current position? If so, how can you word yourself so that you don’t necessarily talk down about the company which currently employs you. If you were laid off, think about how you can discuss this with the most positive outlook without downplaying your skill level and expertise and without placing blame. If you’re looking for more money, how can you phrase the need for compensation in a way that doesn’t make you look like you’re only in it for the money. Talk about your dreams and aspirations without sounding cheesy but by giving solid qualifying facts that speak loudly of you as a future employee and why the job is right for you.
Q: What would you do in your first 100 days on the job if you were hired for this position?
A: The goal of this question is to see where a job candidate’s mind is in the grand scheme of things–how the interviewee would work on a day-to-day basis, how they plan, how they would apply themselves to the role. If someone stumbles when they answer this question, chances are they haven’t even put much thought into how they could be of benefit to the company. And that should be the goal, right? Although a candidate doesn’t necessarily know the ins and outs of the job until they’re hired, the answer an employer should be looking for has less to do with the answer and more to do with how what is said illustrates one’s work ethic, self-motivation and ability to lead the team.
Q: From everything you know about this company and this role, how do you think you’d make a contribution?
A: It happens more often than you’d think. But if someone walks into an interview without doing much research on the company or position they’re interviewing for, they are hands-down not the right candidate for the job. If they have no interest in learning about the higher ups, the tasks and goals for the position they’re seeking or the company itself prior to the interview, they certainly won’t have any interest a couple years into the job. Those who come prepared with more than a generic knowledge of the company show work-ethic and passion for the job at-hand. Those who don’t do their research, well, they simply look slack from the get-go. If you find out about the job through a biotech or pharmaceutical recruiter like Phil Ellis Associates, use your recruiter to your advantage. Field basic questions to your recruiter so that when it comes time to interview, you are well-versed on the company, role and goals of the HR department.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: Passion about the future is important. Many can talk a big game, but talk won’t go far in the long run. Those who have goals for the future tend to show it–their faces light up when they talk about career possibilities. Generic answers don’t do much for those doing the hiring. Yes, everyone wants a considerable raise. And, yes, everyone wants a promotion, a bigger house and more vacation. If you’re being interviewed, think about what there is to gain. Why did you get into the biotech or pharmaceutical world in the first place? Is it because you were passionate about finding a cure for a particular disease? Is it because you want your name to go down in the history books like Alexander Fleming’s? Be honest. Tell your unique story. Truth sells.
Q: Do you have any questions for me?
A: If the answer is “no,” an employer’s answer back to the candidate should be the same. Even those on the shy end of the spectrum should come to the interview with a list of questions they have for the HR department. Questions about compensation, moving packages, bonus structure and hours are a place to start. But this is another place where a candidate can really shine by doing a bit of research. When the tables are turned, the questions the interviewee asks when he or she has a chance to do the interviewing could be a make or break.
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