The one killer question you can ask on your job hunt

by K B , updated on September 10, 2012

The other day I received this question as a comment on my blog.

“Hi Karalyn,

I seem to stumble when writing selection criteria. For example I am employed in the client contact role in the APS and wish to transfer these skills to a local government role but never been successful in gaining an interview…and what is the different skills in client contact in local government to the federal government environment.



Hi James,

Good question. Great question in fact.

Often selection criteria for two different roles read the same way, but actually mean two different things. I would not suggest there is a general difference between local government and federal government as such, but the difference will be in the requirements of the role.

The only way you will know this is to speak with the convener. When you do this acknowledge that you have read the application (otherwise they’ll roll their eyes), and then ask if you can explore the role a little further.

The killer question to ask the convener is: “what will a typical day or week look like in this role?”

I’ll give you an example.

The selection criteria may read:

“Providing excellent customer service to internal and external stakeholders”

As I have said before on this blog, that kind of language is woolly. It’s impossible to unpack what the job actually involves after reading this statement.

If you ask the convener this question: “what does a typical day or week look like?” you get a whole different insight.

You may then find out that you will actually be answering telephone calls from rate-payers disputing their council rate notices. Close to the end of every quarter you will be incredibly busy as people receive their bills. At the end of the year rates go up. So the first quarter of every year when people receive their first quarterly bills, you will be incredibly busy with very angry callers who will often be distressed.

When you understand this, you then provide examples that show you are able to manage this situation.

That’s my killer question. You can apply this question to any other role as well.

What’s your killer question on the job hunt?

We’re very keen to hear what you use.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Interview Questions November 29, 2011 at 4:03 am

It require some confidence to ask the requiter about how a typical day goes in these company for me? Means what are my day to day work . And it is necessary to know before entering the job.
Interview Questions

JobDiagnosis December 5, 2011 at 6:35 am

What will a typical day on the job be like? – That’s really a killer question. Thanks for using this example to explain the thing.

EmployInsight (@EmployInsight) (@EmployInsight) April 6, 2012 at 5:07 am

Good idea! “The one killer question to ask on the job hunt”

Karalyn Brown (@InterviewIQ) (@InterviewIQ) July 20, 2012 at 12:01 pm The one killer question you can ask on your job hunt #jobsearch

Karalyn Brown (@InterviewIQ) (@InterviewIQ) July 22, 2012 at 9:30 pm

The one killer question you can ask on your job hunt #jobsearch

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