Interviewing is a learned skill, an art. For many professionals the act of marketing oneself is fraught with anxiety, self-doubt and worry. Will I make a mistake? Will they like me? Will I get the job? So on – and so on – and so on. Guess what? The professional sitting across the desk interviewing you may be just as insecure. How many hiring managers are accomplished in the art form of conducting a productive and pro-active interview? – VERY FEW
What do they do? They rely on standard questions so as to cover the most ground, to get a reasonable picture of who you are and what skills you possess. How do you respond when an important concern arises, such as your compensation, your qualifications, why you are looking to leave your present employer, etc.? These are universal concerns which will either qualify you or disqualify you.
I. COMPENSATION ISSUES
How much money would you be looking for?
Would you take less?
You may be $5,000 over what we would like to pay.
If there is one phase where a discretionary answer is called for, this is it! Remember you’re trying to get the best possible position for the best possible salary and the company wants the best possible person for a reasonable compensation. There is a negotiable middle ground here, but to get there you need more information.
What is the company’s compensation structure for this position? Can they move over midpoint as a starting salary? Would a higher caliber person be worth more? What qualifications would determine that higher caliber person?
You should always convey the impression that if you are the “right fit” you would expect a reasonable offer that is in line with market trends.
Things to remember:
Two common objections are “You’re overqualified” or “You’re underqualified”. There are times that these objections are premature – hiring executives are not accurate 100% of the time.
Do not take this blanket analysis of your fit as a given – probe to see.
Focus the hiring executive’s attention on how you do fit. Often times hiring executives look at the “why not” instead of the “why does it”. Especially if you are not from their direct industry. You may have transferable skills, but it is up to you to point that out.
III. WHY ARE YOU LOOKING TO LEAVE
The answer to this query can be easily misinterpreted. Maybe you’ve been recruited by an executive search firm and you are comparing this opportunity to your present career path and not actively looking to leave your present employer.
Whatever your answer and whatever particular circumstances you presently are in, never convey negatives in defining your motive or your present employer. Focus on the positives: Challenge, Growth, Recognition, Stability. Companies appreciate professionals who are attracted to a better, more vibrant opportunity, not to a person who is trying to escape a poor situation where they’ll jump to a company, any company, in order to flee.
If you are keeping your options open, let the hiring authority know this. You’re comparing and will weigh future possibilities as they present themselves. This is not a “stone-walling” tactic if it is a reasonable description of your present situation.
IV. MANY CAREER MOVES – A “JOB HOPPER”
What’s on paper can be very misleading unless qualifying information is given, so as to make it a reasonably acceptable explanation. Having four positions in six years might lead one to conclude a negative but maybe there are extenuating circumstances that clarify. If there was a company wide restructuring or downsizing, if your company was purchased, if you were recruited by your former boss to join a new endeavor, if you left because of an ethical conflict, etc. These reasons make sense; they impart no negative. What helps is if you can document these issues, preferably by references who can give an objective overview.
P.S. Today’s society tolerates a shorter track record at companies than 15-20 years ago.
P.S.S. If you were fired, you should never try misdirection or construct an untrue cover. That is grounds for termination even if you do get the job.
To become an accomplished interviewer takes practice, but before you practice, know how you are going to respond to the most universal objections used by hiring executives.
Success in interviewing is not about luck; it’s about preparation.