The Most Important Question

What question should you focus on before your first interview?

I want to share with you what I consider to be the most important question that you should ask yourself at the conclusion of your first interview. People will have many different thoughts as they start the interview process; however, I believe by asking this question you will be more focused, more succinct in your answers, more direct in your approach, and more involved in the proper due diligence of the call. If on the other hand you do not plan to ask yourself this question, you will not be any of the above. So, what is this most important question?

The Scenario At Play Before That First Interview

Let’s set the stage first so we are all in agreement as to how and when to ask the question. You’ve just found out through either your own sources or through using a recruiter that you are going to have an interview. For this purpose, let’s assume there is a recruiter involved. Of course, you’re going to drill down on everything that’s important to you with your recruiter. The recruiter is going to share with you the salient factors of why you have been selected for an interview. They should also share with you the reason there is an open position as well as anything else that makes this position desirable in the recruiter’s mind for you as the candidate. You then end the call with the recruiter, excited knowing you have a couple more days before the first interview, so you begin your due diligence in all earnest. You agree with your recruiter that you’re going to chat with them one more time before your interview. This will be the time for you to ask and have answered all of your important questions that have been revealed during your due diligence process.

What Thoughts Are Swirling In Your Head

You’re on the phone now with your recruiter, you’ve done your due diligence, you’ve asked your questions, and now you’re ready for your interview. What’s going through your head when you have that first interview? If you’re like most people, you’re concerned about whether your book will transfer, if your clients will follow you, if this is the right place for you, and any other questions that generally pop into your mind. But I’m here to share with you that those are not the questions you should be asking yourself right now. Your mind should be open to receiving critical information the manager is sharing. You don’t know enough information to intelligently ask and have answered those questions in your mind. This is only your first interview. If you go into the interview process with those questions as your main focus, then you’re going to miss a lot of great opportunities to find out even more of what your interviewer is sharing with you. You’re going to be more reserved in your answers. You’re not going to have the 100% perception that you need during an interview because you’re only thinking about those questions.

The Most Important Question After Your First Interview

In my humble opinion, I believe there was only one question that you should be asking yourself and only at the conclusion of the interview process – not during. That question is: do I want to learn more? This should be the only question. By asking yourself only one question at the end of the first interview (do I want to learn more?), you will be much more focused in the actual interview as you now know the question you’re going to have to ask yourself or be asked by a recruiter at the conclusion. Just so that you know, this does not solely apply to the candidate. It also applies to the hiring manager. If both candidate and hiring manager share that they want to learn more, then and only then do we go to a second interview. If either of the two don’t want to learn more, then this is not the right fit and you should move on. I can’t stress enough that this should be the only question you should be asking yourself or sharing with your recruiter. By applying this simple technique, you will become a much stronger candidate for the position you are seeking.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting.”

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.