Are you asking the right questions?

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Men’s Health News provides some really useful tips for acing that job interview. It can be nerve-racking putting your potential employer on the spot with questions, but you will seem more confident, assertive and enthusiastic. Cassie Shortsleeve gives readers the scoop:

How to pitch your future employer, showcase your best self—and get the job.

Step #1

“Diagnose the problem before you prescribe the medicine,” says Ford Myers, executive career coach, and author of Get the Job You Want, Even When No One is Hiring. You have to understand your employer’s pains, needs, and challenges before you can help.

After you get the weather convo out of the way, ask the most important question of the interview: “What are your biggest business issues?” Take out your notepad. Start writing. Why it’ll work: Your future employer doesn’t care about your credentials, your $3,000 suit, or your experience, says Myers. “The only thing they care about is what you can do for them right then.”

Asking the first question will make you stand out from the 99 percent who sit nervously waiting to be peppered with questions. Another bonus: Right off the bat you know what traits to highlight and which ones to skip—like talking up your intricate problem-solving skills if he needs someone who gets results fast.

Step #2

Your pitch: It should be a direct response to your employer’s needs and problems. “It’s sales 101,” Myers says. “Get to the heart of a problem and sell your solutions.” If he says they have a real problem with X, tell a story about how you solved X at your old job—and how it’ll work again. “Accomplishment stories are the best way to showcase your experience,” says Myers.

Brainstorm a few likely problems the company you’re interviewing at could have beforehand—more sales, better client relations—then memorize your accomplishment stories in advance so you can easily retell them. The more specific you can be, the better. Numbers show a measure of success—winning 50 percent of your bids when the industry average is 20, writing 10 stories a week, or earning the company three new clients.

Step #3

At the end of the interview, ask several direct questions: “What are my next steps in the interview process? When can I follow up with you? What is your time frame to make a decision?” Then state your interest in the job—a no-brainer that’s commonly skipped. Say something that shows you’ve digested the conversation: “After learning more about this opportunity, I’m very interested and confident that I’d be an excellent fit.”

Employers want employees who are passionate, and energized, says Myers. It’s good for business. When 65 percent of a company’s employees showed high levels of engagement—more happiness, career opportunities, and rewards—the company posted 19 percent higher shareholder returns than average in the stock market, according to a 2010 report from Hewitt Associates.

Read more here.

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