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Liz Ryan Contributor

I write about bringing life to work and bringing work to life. full bio →

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

I was a Fortune 500 HR SVP for ten million years, but I was an opera singer before I ever heard the term HR. The higher I got in the corporate world, the more operatic the action became. I started writing about the workplace for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1997, but it took me ages to find my own voice. Now I write for the Huffington Post, Business Week, LinkedIn, the Harvard Business Review, the Denver Post and Forbes.com and lead the worldwide Human Workplace movement to reinvent work for people. Stop by and join us: http://www.humanworkplace.com

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Leadership 2,376 views

How To Conduct A Pain Interview With Your Hiring Manager

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MANAGER: Sure! (He’s bored with the dumb scripted interview questions, too.) 

YOU: Fantastic. I’m wondering about your product roadmap. You launched the edible nail-polish line about 18 month ago, right?

MANAGER: Give or take.

YOU: And it looks like it’s doing well, but it’s more of a novelty than your other products. I see it in the novelty gift stores at the mall, rather than chocolate shops.

MANAGER: Yeah, that product didn’t really work in chocolate shops.

YOU: But it was a big seller when it launched. I’m curious what your product roadmap looks like now, and how you’re feeling about the new product release schedule for 2015.

MANAGER: That’s an insightful question. It’s one of the reasons I’m hiring a Number Two here in Marketing. I have my plate full. We need to keep coming out with new products.

YOU: What would your ideal release schedule look like?

Now you are talking about something real. You’re talking about what’s working and what isn’t. You are way too polite and professional to point out that when you asked your manager about the schedule for new product releases this year, you didn’t get an answer. That’s good! You love to hear about Business Pain. Business Pain is your favorite topic, because you can solve your hiring manager’s pain.

You can’t ask your hiring manager “What isn’t working here?” You have to advance a Pain Hypothesis and let him or her react to it.

You may have to ask several pain-related questions. Even very competent and astute managers don’t always have a clear view of what’s working well and what isn’t. You will be a consultant to your hiring manager, even before you get a job!

Practice Pain Interviewing and see if you don’t find what other job-seekers have found: that it’s more interesting, more intellectually stimulating, more fun and more likely to lead to a job offer to talk about pain and solutions than to stick to the interview script!


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