Three questions an interview should answer

While the actual interview will cover a variety of subjects and include many questions, it’s just a comprehensive mechanism to answer three basic questions.

Years ago, I read an article in Forbes that said that an interview, from the interviewer’s perspective and at the fundamental level, is about answering three questions:

  1. Can you do the job?
  2. Will you love the job?
  3. Do we want to work with you?

I loved the simplicity, and the lesson has stuck with me ever since.  Consequently, I go into every interview with those questions in mind: while the actual interview will cover a variety of subjects and include many questions, I never forget that it’s just a comprehensive mechanism to answer three basic questions.  Keeping this in mind can be a helpful tool when the conversation really gets flowing.

The same minimalist approach can be applied to interviews from the perspective of the candidate, in which case we get:

  1. Can I do the job?
  2. Will I love the job?
  3. Do I want to work with them?

When preparing for the interview, determine how you’ll find answers to those questions; during the interview, exert some control over the conversation.  In the worst case, you might have to wait until the interviewer inevitably asks, “Do you have any questions for me?”  Remember to make the most of the opportunity – if you come out of the conversation unsure about the answers to any of the big three questions, then you haven’t made the most of the opportunity!  Especially zealous candidates might know the answers before they even show up for the interview, having talked to current employees familiar with the company, role, and team.

We tend to over-complicate things, but let’s not let layers of formality, behavioral scenarios, problem-solving, and personality quizzes obscure the true purpose of the interview, in all its simple glory.

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One comment on “Three questions an interview should answer
  1. […] Sound familiar? That’s because I’ve written about it before. […]

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