Candidates; Turn the Tables on Your Interviewer


Many times a company’s only knowledge of a job applicant comes from the information provided in a cover letter and resume. It is the interviewer’s responsibility to elicit additional data regarding qualifications, experience, and fitness for the position. Still, the candidate can assist the interviewer in collecting and interpreting the most pertinent aspects of his background and abilities.

At the same time, the job seeker can lead the interviewer into territory where the candidate excels, pushing himself above the other applicants while showing he is willing and able to bring much more to the position than perhaps even the company hopes to attain.

By “interviewing the interviewer,” an applicant subtly suggests that he regards the position as both an opportunity to advance the company’s agenda and to bring fresh ideas, bold leadership, and a can-do spirit to the firm.

  • Asking the right questions, is the key to showing keen interest and giving the hiring manager the idea that she may have discovered a rising star.



Here are some types of questions that will get those messages across:

  • When the interview turns to the company’s expectations for the new employee, ask what the firm would like to accomplish in the next several months. This demonstrates a desire to hit the ground running and make an immediate impact. If hired, the candidate also will know what areas on which to focus.
  • If the interviewer mentions training or continuing education opportunities, ask for examples of employees who have taken advantage of the perk. Ask how the extra training has assisted them in being given additional responsibilities and advancement within the company. This shows the candidate’s drive and eagerness to become part of the strategic leadership team.
  • When the subject of hierarchy and company culture arises, ask about the immediate supervisor’s management style. Will the person who fills the position be working independently? As a “right hand man”? As part of a project team? The response allows the candidate to discuss experiences in which he thrived under similar circumstances. If the boss is a micro-manager, on the other hand, someone who prefers to take the ball and run may wish to look elsewhere.
  • Preparing and asking appropriate questions gives candidates a chance to guide the discussion toward topics they are confident in discussing.

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants, a leader in Executive Search since 1999. Please reach out to ISC for any recruitment needs in the following 5 areas of focus: Sales, Financial Services, Healthcare (non-clinical), Human Resources, Construction, Real Estate Acquisition & Development.

You can reach the author directly at or via phone at 888-866-7276