Probing for Pain Points?
You do this by asking big open-ended questions to the other party to get them to open up and spill the beans.
Initial Phone Screen
Most of the time in the interview process, there will be an initial phone screen with either a recruiter or HR professional. Your first questions should include:
- Why is this a position open?
- What are the responsibilities of the position?
- Which of these responsibilities are new to the department, organization, or company?
- What are the old and new business requirements that are causing you to fill this position?
- If this is an old position, where did the previous employee go?
You are looking for insight into whether this is a newly created or existing position and whether these are new responsibilities. If it is new, then they are likely working on solving an existing problem. If it an existing position, why is the position currently vacant? Did the person leave the company, move to a different position or were they promoted?
The recruiter or HR professional may not be able to answer many of these questions but you may impress them by asking deep probing questions. If they are able to answer your questions, however, keep asking probing questions until you have them stumped.
You want to be a detective. Ask probing questions to look for problems. You are looking for problems that you know how to solve!
Post Phone Screen
Put on your detective hat and do your research.
Check on LinkedIn to see who currently or in the near past had the title for this job. Did this person leave the company or move to a different department? You may have to connect with several people on LinkedIn and ask for 15 minutes on the phone to ask for AIR, advice, insights, and recommendations.
You want to ask each of them what they know about the open position.
If you find the person who previously held the position left the company, ask them why. You may find that you do not want to work there! People who have left will often give you a more authentic view of the position and corporate culture.
If they moved to a new department, ask them whether it was a lateral move or a promotion. If it was a promotion, make sure to congratulate them. If it was a lateral move, ask about the business reasons for the move.
Carefully read anything and everything about the company, looking for pain points. It may be that the company is growing fast or moving into new markets or even that sales have stalled. What are the potential problems?
Bring a minimum of five pain point questions with you to the interview. They should be open-ended questions to uncover problems that you have already thought about—know how you would solve them!
- Are you satisfied with the current growth of the business?
- Are you meeting service level agreement targets with all of you important clients?
- What are the areas where you are having problems meeting deadlines?
- My favorite — What keeps you up at night?
It was the last question that a client of mine used with the hiring manager’s boss. Their response was amazing in that the interviewer just talked on and on about all of the major problems the organization was having.
Notice that all of these are open-ended questions. Your goal is to get the interviewer to give you insight into the pain points that you know how to solve. She did exactly what my client wanted her to do, spill the beans.
Now my client had all the information she needed to position herself to get the job. After the interview, my client emailed the hiring manager with everything she had learned and how she would address each problem.
Pain Points Uncovered
Once the pain points have been uncovered or you have gotten them to spill the beans, you can explain how you have solved these problems in the past.
The best way to do this is to tell stories about how you previously solved the same or similar problems for your employer.
Let me tell you about the time when I encountered …..
This demonstrates that you have the skills to do the job. It is not about convincing the hiring manager that you can do the job but demonstrating that you have done the job. Do not TELL them but SHOW them.
So plan on being a detective. By asking good, probing questions looking for pain points shows that you have done your homework about their business. The more you uncover the better you can demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job!
Probing for pain points starts at the very beginning with the initial encounter with a recruiter. Do not wait to ask probing question until later in the process.
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