Identify and Leverage a Company’s True Pain Points

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A job interview is like a sales call. You are attempting to convince the interviewer (the customer) that they simply cannot live without you (the product) on their team. The best way to sell yourself as the ideal candidate is to position yourself as the answer to the employer’s biggest problems. When you correctly identify the hiring manager’s pain points, you can use that information to paint yourself as the perfect solution.

Identifying Pain in an Interview

You cannot identify a hiring manager’s pain points without asking questions. Standard interview rhythm involves the interviewer asking all the questions and you answering them until you are invited to ask questions at the very end. However, it is perfectly acceptable to follow up your answers with your own questions. Not only does this help you identify potential points of pain, but it shows the interviewer that you are actively engaged in the conversation.

Do some advanced research on the company to see when and why they make headlines. Is it rapid growth? Are they lagging behind the competition? Did they just outsource a huge portion of their work, or did they just bring more work in-house?  Use the news as a guide to ask questions throughout the interview. You want to identify:

  • How the team currently functions
  • Where it fits into the greater organizational picture
  • The team’s goals for the next calendar year
  • Changes that the team has experienced in the last year
  • Why the job is currently open
  • How long it has been open

Using this information you can discern certain things about the job. Perhaps the job requires an extremely keen eye for detail, and they have yet to find a candidate who meets that requirement. Perhaps prior individuals to hold the job have burned out, or it may be that the project involves working with a difficult client or department manager.

Once you know why the position is open and the goals for the team, you can position yourself as the answer to the hiring manager’s problems. You can tailor your answers by pulling out specific examples from your career that show your attention to detail, for example, or your ability to win over difficult people.

Remember, you cannot solve all of the employer’s problems. The best that you can do is to tie your answers back to real examples of success throughout your career. If you find that you aren’t necessarily the answer to every point of pain, don’t be discouraged. Focus on your strengths, and the rest will fall into place.

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