Once an applicant has secured a physical interview it is essential to ace the interview to get the position.
Using poka-yoke to answer interview questions is better than preparation.
What is Poka-Yoke?
And, how do you apply it to an interview?
Almost every employment resource tells applicants to prepare for an interview. Unfortunately, preparation is a vague term open to interpretation. A job you want is on the line; this is not the time to guess about anything.
Poka-yoke is a Japanese term that was developed in relationship to the Six Sigma business model.
Within Six Sigma poka-yoke specifically refers to creating designs or systems that anticipate and prevent future problems before they happen.
The automatic backup of computer files is a poka-yoke, the use of different prongs on electrical outlets is a poka-yoke, an online form that comes back immediately saying that the information doesn’t match is a poka-yoke.
In all cases preventing problems before they arise is the idea. Poka-yoke is much more specific and proactive than preparation. Here we are only going to poka-yoke interview questions.
However, the process can also be used for interview personal hygiene and speaking. The strength of poka-yoke is that it allows a person to focus on potential interview problems before they occur.
Here is an example:
A bright young single mother goes in for a job interview as a Financial Analyst. By all measures she is the most qualified person for the job.
During the course of the interview the employer asks her if she has any further questions. The single mother, focusing on the things she wants to know about the company, asks the interviewer if there is a company daycare program. This is an important consideration for the woman.
However, she has just told the interviewer she has a child? Children? The interviewer then inquires about the age of the child and the woman tells him that she has three kids under the age of five and that she is a single mother. While it is not ethical, the employer wonders how this woman will cope in the position, and he hires someone else.
If the applicant had sat down to poka-yoke interview questions before the interview she would have answered the question differently and she would have been hired.
The woman prepared very well for all the standard interview questions and had done very well up to this point. The largest potential problems in her working career are related to taking care of her three children and she knows this.
However, she had not poka-yoked various scenarios to deal with the problems that are likely to arise let alone poka-yoked the interview questions related to her personal Achilles heel.
Poka-Yoke Biggest Weaknesses and Craft Successful Interview Answers
Identify your three biggest weaknesses related to any job and poka-yoke questions related to them before the interview.
For the example above, our interview candidate identifies her three weaknesses before the interview as:
Affordable care for her children in New York City.
No knowledge of social media.
Difficulty working the long hours associated with the position of Financial Analyst.
Once the three greatest weaknesses have been identified create answers to potential interview question bombs. In the example above, the job seeker would look for answers to the daycare question from the company’s website and by using Linkedin information.
Before starting employment she would have good ideas about how to deal with weaknesses one and three. She certainly would know not to offer up one of her greatest weaknesses in the interview. Once she has been offered the position she can negotiate from a position of strength to secure additional time off and resources for her family.
By listing her second greatest weakness, a lack of Social Media knowledge, she can prepare a suitable answer. Something like: “I have investigated the structure of Facebook and have found that their security was seriously flawed until just recently.
Similarly, many of the other Social Media outlets have serious security issues that can leave users’ privacy and identities vulnerable. Rather than jump into Social Media as a first adopter, I am waiting for most of the flaws to be corrected so that I do not expose myself to any unnecessary risks.”
Poka-Yoke Common Interview Questions
After dealing with the bombs tackle these questions the same way. This is preparation that looks to identify potential problems. When you find issues create your own detailed poka-yoke answers. Here are some common questions and some poka-yoke ideas for creating answers.
1. What do you know about our company? Why are you applying for this position?
Poka-yoke: Use research to learn about the company AND to determine your likely value to them. Be specific; mention research, research sources and then talk about how you can specifically add value to the position.
2. Tell me about yourself.
Poka-yoke: Do not tell your life-history. This isn’t a bar and these people are not your friends. Focus on relevant job experience that is applicable to the current position. Follow up with why this position is a natural progression for you rather than discussing negatives about your current situation.
3. What are your strengths? How can you add value to this position?
Poka-yoke: Answer with a broad strength list that applies to the position. Then highlight with an applicable example from your career history that answers the main desired qualities listed in the job advertisement. Make answers unique and engaging; something that will stick in the mind of the employer.
4. What are your weaknesses?
Poka-yoke: Be honest rather than use the common “my strength is my weakness” double speak. However, make sure any weakness you discuss will have a limited impact on the position. Then discuss ways in which you plan on dealing with this known weakness to limit its impact on your productivity.
5. Why should we hire you for this position over another candidate?
Poka-yoke: Know your worth related to the position. List and highlight your unique qualities. Keep to the point and focus on your strengths rather than trying to guess what skills other applicants might posses.
The value of poka-yoke is it asks the mind to think about problems from a different perspective. Fix the problems in your interview before they appear and then get ready to negotiate a better salary!
Poka-yoke interview questions image from Shutterstock