Recruiters in elevator
<strong>Joshua SMITH</strong>
Joshua SMITH

Executive Trainer & Edtech Co-founder @ Head of Higher Education Partnerships & Adjunct Teacher Recruiting in France.

240. 10 Hours with Recruiters: Post COVID-19 Job Interview Strategies & Response Templates

240. 10 Hours with Recruiters: Post COVID-19 Job Interview Strategies & Response Templates

70 Questions to test your mastery of this lesson

Preparing for your job interview.

What is your ROI as an A-list professional?

What is the term for when a recruiter hires you, then regrets it?

What is interview bias? Is it a minor or major problem? Why?

What is a mis-hire and how problematic are they to companies?

How often does the average person change jobs?

How is self-confidence gained?

Who usually validates the job interview strategy and questions asked?

What does “your current station in life” mean?

What is more important: Knowing how to do the job or knowing how the job fits into the company?

How far into the future do A-list professionals tend to goal-plan and forecast?

Do A-list professionals tend to focus long-term with one employer, or pursue frequent opportunities with other employers?

An identified top candidate applies for a job whose technical skills and responsibilities are not evident on their CV/resume. What does this suggest?

Should you target jobs or companies? Why?

Which is better to work for, a good boss or a good company? Why?

What is the difference between a job and a career?

What is the difference between an entrepreneur & intrapreneur? What are the benefits of being an intrapreneur?

What are some reasons why high-performers aren’t promoted?

“Your career plan should be detailed enough to _____ yet flexible enough to _____.”

How much can it cost the company to fill a vacant position?

What percentage of an average workforce are top-talent (A-list)?
Poor performers? (C-list)?

What is a learning curve? How do smart companies protect themselves against learning curves?

Why do CVs/resumes typically list in reverse-chronological order?

What is the difference between a traditional chronological CV, a functional skills-based CV, a traditional & functional combination CV and a targeted CV?

What is recruiter hesitancy? You’re being interviewed for a job you’re not obviously qualified for based on your CV/resume. What are 5 strategies to respond to reduce recruiter hesitancy?

What is a productive, value-adding way to take advantage of unemployment in between jobs?

What is social proof?

“A-list professionals do not list _____ on their CV and instead focus on _____.”

“Successful people are successful because _____.”

What is an advantage of being an A-list professional with no other job interviews currently scheduled?

The only 5 reasons why A-list professionals should change jobs are:
1) _____
2) _____
3) _____
4) _____
5) _____

Which offers greater ROI: Improving your strengths or improving your weaknesses? Why?

“It is better to _____-promise and _____-deliver. But it is even better to _____-promise and then do everything it takes to live up to your potential.”

What is the difference between “following” and “knowing how to follow?”

What are the risks of accepting a job interview during working hours? How can you turn those risks into strengths?

What is maturity of defenses?

What is the difference between egocentric & allocentric?

“Leaders build more _____, not _____.”

What are the 5 basic leadership styles?
1) _____
2) _____
3) _____
4) _____
5) _____

What is the relationship between a critical job role and succession planning?

During your job interview

When asked a question:
1. Always _____.
2. When you don’t know the answer, _____.
3. When you cannot, then _____.
4. Never _____
5. Never _____.

Should you take notes during the interview? Why or why not?

What are competency-based questions?

What are criteria-based questions?

What are personality-based questions?

What is the purpose of open-ended questions?

Should you ask questions during the interview or wait until the interviewer asks you if you have any questions?

“Judge a person by their ____, not their _____.”

During interviews, is it better to focus on the past, or the future? Why?

When answering job interview questions, should you answer top-down or bottom-up? Why?

What is more important than perfecting how you answer job interview questions?

Should the interview feel like a Q&A session or a conversation? Why?

What is the STARLA method to answering questions?

When asked a question you don’t know the answer to, what is the best response strategy?

During an interview you are asked “How would increase sales?”

As an A-list professional, why is “I would hire more sales people and expand.” a bad answer? What would be a good answer?

During the interview you’re asked in detail about current & upcoming projects:

What are the opportunities & threats of this question?

What is the best way to respond?

When asked “What motivates you?”, how can your CV/resume betray you?

How defined should your career path be?What is the difference between

“What you did” and “How you performed” in your previous job? Which is better?

You are asked the question: “How quickly do you see yourself getting promoted?”

What is a good strategy for responding?

What is one of the most persuasive arguments against a lack of experience or gaps in employment & short-term employment?

During compensation negotiation

Is asking about compensation during the interview ‘out of place?” Why? Why not?”

You don’t get what you _____, you get what you _____.”

“Negotiation is about creating _____, _____ solutions.”

What is concept checking & why is it important?

What is a “straw man fallacy?”

“Candidates _____ in how they are paid are _____.”

“A-list professionals convert conflict into _____.”

“A-list professionals focus the interview on ____, not on ‘proving’ _____.”

What are the 4 types of feedback?
1. _____
2. _____
3. _____
4. _____

What is the risk of negotiation salary and not total compensation?”

60 videos. 85+ links. 200+ takeaways from this 10 hr training lesson:

[JOSHUA’S NOTE: Below are 10 hours of high-quality, curated content gleaned from professional recruiters and head hunters blended with my personal experience as a talent development specialist training over 15,000 professionals and university students, neatly bundled up and in one place.

This lesson builds upon the strategies and learning outcomes in Lesson 239. 6 Hours with Recruiters: Upgrade Your CV, Find Hidden Job Offers & 10x Response Rates. If you have applied to 20+ jobs and have not been contacted to set up a job interview, or if you feel you are over-qualified for the job offers you are receiving, consider returning to Lesson 239. to revise how to target and attract recruiters.]


  1. How recruiters categorize candidates & why it’s ineffective
  2. What you really need to know before you start interviewing
  3. Job interview question sets:
  4. How executive headhunters ‘flip’ leaders and potential candidates

Categorize candidates


“People are the ultimate capital in any organization and it’s incredibly important to pick who those people are.”
Richard Titus

Recall in Lesson 77. that most companies suffer from a significant talent shortage and this problem will be more traumatic in the future, and in Lesson 239. that recruiters place professionals into 3 categories:

  • A-list professionals are those rare above-average, high-potential, high-performing professionals who account for +300% ROI. (Ex: You pay them 50K€ and they bring back into the company +300K€). Intelligent employers seek to attract and keep these employees at all costs.
  • B-list professionals are the average workers who make up the majority of the workforce and who account for 150-200% ROI. (Ex: You pay them 50K€ and they bring back into the company +75K-100K€). Intelligent employers seek to attract, train and keep these employees happy and productive.
  • C-list employees are below-average workers. They actually cost money and consume resources. (Ex: You pay them 50K€ and they don’t even earn their pay). Intelligent employers seek to identify and either improve these employees’ performance (if reasonable) or eject from their workforce.

A-list Players are the best, B-list Players are average, and C-list Players are below-average.

Recall in Lesson 78. Recruitment from application to offer (part 1) that based on what the recruiter has learned about you, they tend to place you into one of four categories when deciding whether to hire you or not:

  • Right-Negative: They conclude if they hire you you will not live up to their expectations; so rather than take the risk they choose not to hire you.
  • Right-Positive: They conclude if they hire you you will live up to their expectations; so they choose hire you.
  • False-Negative: They predict you will not live up to their expectations; so they choose not to take the risk and hire you. However had they hired you, you would have lived up to their expectations. The recruiter will never know what they missed.
  • False-Positive: They predict you will live up to their expectations and so choose to hire you, however after hiring you you fail and they regret hiring you.

Every company has their own hiring guide: selection methods to attract, identify and select ‘the best’ talent. If you don’t meet their guidelines, you don’t get the job.

Unfortunately most of those selection methods are unethical, illegal, and not very accurate.

The problem with the interviewing process is that it is tremendously biased and does not accurately predict long-term performance. Letters of recommendation are likewise essentially useless in long-term performance prediction.

Ironically, taller, stronger, agreeable, extroverted and more attractive people tend to do much better in the interview than shorter, less attractive and introverted people.

The problem with prioritizing a candidate’s academic accomplishments is that there is such a vast difference between schools, programs and teachers – even from one year to the next – that it is impossible to accurately compare. Grades and GPA, likewise, are an unreliable predictor because some teachers grade more strictly than others, and because many teachers grade on a curve – adjusting grades to ensure proper distribution. Teachers may also grade on a curve to meet university requirements to keep their job.

Were a recruiting company to use a completely randomized hiring process whereby all CVs are put into a stack, shuffled, and the CV that is selected is hired, there would still be a good chance the recruit does well at the job. Recruiting is not an exact science, people are surprising and you can never predict how people will adapt to new environments, and there will always be margin of error. The main issue people would have with this process is the unfairness to all the other, perhaps ‘more qualified’ candidates, who were not chosen.

“46% of all new hires turn out to be mis-hires within 18 months.” – David Patterson, SAP Recruiter

A tremendous amount of managers fail within two years of being promoted, and most professionals change jobs every 2-3 years for career opportunities and/or to escape bad bosses.

That being said, assuming the hiring company’s recruiting process is working optimally, and assuming your CV is applicant tracking friendly and SEO optimized, if you are not being contacted for job interviews, or if job interviews are not turning into job offers, you are likely being categorized by the recruiter as a “Right-Negative” or a “False-Negative.” (explained above)

before interviewing


It’s not whether the employer wants you. It’s also whether you want them. –Ruth Badger

Target jobs you want, not merely a paycheck you need to pay the bills. This is easier said than done because this implies having enough savings to be able to turn down job offers. If you aren’t interested in the job and only took it to pay your bills, it’ll show in your work performance. If you focus on accepting jobs you don’t like but ‘you really need the money,’ 2-3 years later your profile risks not being very appealing because your CV is full of short-lived jobs with unimpressive achievements and responsibilities that do not show your full potential.

Job interviews are typically a blend of:

  • Competency-based questions which assume past performance is a predictor for future performance. Questions will be based on gathering specific, concrete examples in your past. Your ability to communicate and tell stories is critical to answering these questions.
  • Criteria-based questions focus on how you qualify for the role in question; do you have what it takes to do the job?
  • Personality-based questions focus on how you think, believe and act in social situations. Are you a good fit for the company? Your department? Your colleagues? Our clients?

Real recognize real. You can look a person in their eyes and almost determine whether not they’ve been through it. You can hear it in their voice. You can hear pain as they talk.” – Josh, aka. Lockdown 23 and 1

Ultimately, don’t try to craft the ‘perfect’ answer to every possible question you may be asked. Instead, understand who you are and who you are not, develop a relevant and flexible personality, professional experience and communication style that would be comfortable answering any question thrown at you; and communicate in an interesting manner.

“You rehearsed your speech; a significant indicator of a lack of confidence.” – Ada Shelby. Peaky Blinders S4E5

Prepare for the interview beforehand. You should be up-to-date on the company’s latest news headlines, goals, quarterly updates, good and bad press, etc. Likewise you should have researched the person you’ll be interviewing with as well as your potential superiors and colleagues based on the job you’re applying for.

Every answer is a story, and every story must start at the top-level of the organization and work down, not from the bottom-level and work up. Focus on macro-objectives, impact, goals and strategy, and always link your story to the recruiter’s future.

You must learn how to be a good storyteller; demonstrating your competence and expertise not just by directly answering questions with examples and statistics and figures, but by wrapping those statistics and figures around your interesting personal experiences, lessons learned and examples that demonstrate your interest and passion about your work and that you’ve even more competence at your disposal beyond what they are aware of.

Answers to job interview questions fall into one of three categories, from the recruiter’s perspective:

Research, understanding your target audience practice and experience through trial and error are how to ensure your communications are seen as relevant and interesting.

For internet search techniques, refer to Lesson 239. 10 search strategies recruiters use to find top talent online.

Are you so disinterested in the hiring company and job that you didn’t feel it worth your time taking notes?

Bring a pen and paper – and take notes because it is impossible for you to remember everything. And if you don’t have any notes from the meeting, how can you even prove the meeting actually happened? Going to a meeting empty handed and with no way of noting key talking points, facts and information you can use to your advantage suggest you are not an A-list professional to be taken seriously.

  • Quality questions lead to quality answers filled with information you can use to gain an advantage in the recruiting and on-boarding process.
  • Quality answers lead to quality questions with which you can use to control the job interview.
  • Quality notes commits the interviewer to promises, comments and compensation offers they offered during the meeting. If the interviewer offers you a 15% annual performance bonus and you didn’t write it down, and you discover your actual contract says a 5% annual performance bonus, how can you prove your interviewer offered 15% when you’ve no notes?

Self-confidence is built through experience, knowledge, research, preparation, control over your environment and knowing how to anticipate and propose solutions that solve the other person’s pains and problems. It is knowing that you know.

Human Resources will likely have a pre-defined list of questions to ask you: questions drafted through company policy validated by Human Resources and their legal department as well as questions arising from your CV and paperwork. Your answer to their question determines whether the interviewer deviates from their list of questions to ask follow-up questions, or rigidly sticks to their list of questions regardless your answer. If your interview feels like a police interrogation, you’re doing something wrong; the encounter is not that of equality and mutual-respect.

Building rapport with the interviewer is the most important goal of the interview; even more important than your technical skills and the answers to their questions.

When you’re well-prepared, no question can be asked that you cannot respond with a competent, relevant answer. When those rare questions you weren’t prepared for do arise, you’re able to buy time and gather information by challenging the question with deeper context-probing questions such as:

  • “To be sure I understand, are you asking…?”
  • “I’m curious as to why you’re asking this question.”
  • “Are you asking me this question because…?”

question sets


1. Questions to identify your current station in life.

Q: Tell me about yourself.
Q: Aside from studies, what have you learned in the last 6 months?
Recruiter’s PerspectiveJob Seeker’s Perspective
Open-ended questions enable recruiters to assess your critical thinking, storytelling and communication skills.

Here the recruiter is specifically assessing how you value your role as an employee. They really want to hear what got you interested in your line of work, why you like what you do, who influenced you to do what you do, and how you intend to develop in your career.

Do you define yourself as a reactive employee who executes orders or a proactive change agent who helps colleagues reach targets? Are you egocentric and speak in terms of how things affect you or are you allocentric and show how your actions benefit others?
Don’t merely talk about ‘what you do’ or list ‘your daily tasks.’ Explain your purpose and lessons learned: how what you do fits into the bigger picture of your company’s mission.

Explain how you enable your superiors to make better decisions, how you help your employer and clients, and include examples of accomplishments you’ve been involved in that proves how they have benefited.

And before your job interview research the hiring company and the recruiter you’re meeting so you know how to describe your current role in a way the recruiter understands. The information Human Resources recruiters are looking for is not the same your direct superior will be looking for.

The recruiter should be thinking: “You are precisely the type of professional we’re looking for!”

Look the part. Dress for the role. Dress to fit in with the right people in the environment. The clothes you wear communicate more about you than any words you use.

Q: Do you have a long-term career plan?
Q: How will this role fit into your long-term career plans?

Your station in life is not only how you dress, it is also how you think. Holding grudges, failing to see how your failures have been positive, and blaming everyone but yourself suggests a person not ready to move up.

A-list professionals tend to have 3-5 year career plans, and likely have a longer-term savings and financial objectives.

Likewise, depending on the culture, A-list professionals will pursuing – actively or passively – other job opportunities. Identifying other roles and companies they are interviewing for could reveal additional skill sets and interests not readily identified during your interview.

For example, if an identified A-list candidate says they are interviewing for roles as a technical lead in product development as well as a sales position, the person may be desperate for any job, or they may have 2 separate versions of thier CV listing experience and accomplishments on the version the recruiter does not currently have.

Confidently stating you intentionally chose to apply for this position at their company because it helps you reach a long-term goal suggests you’re seeking a mutually-beneficial relationship and so you’re committed to succeeding in the role.

As the recruiter knows the company management structure better than you, your career goals may even prompt the recruiter to introduce you to particular colleagues and mentors that can further help you reach your goals.
A job is a position you hold for a certain amount of time. A career is a series of strategic decisions and jobs you accept along with competences you develop along the way. With a career, each job is just a stepping stone to the next job that brings you closer to your goals.

Your acquired knowledge, skill sets and collection of best practices can be applied in more creative ways and for jobs than you – and the recruiter- may realize. Don’t limit yourself to thinking you must follow a particular ‘career path’ simply because everyone else is doing so.

This question builds upon the question “How have you been performing against your targets?” in that if you have a career target, and can explain your step-by-step approach to reaching it, surely you’ll also handle meeting the job’s targets in the same way.

In today’s globalized world, a Canadian professional could live in France and accept a semi-remote position for an American company at their subsidiary based in Italy.

Don’t let country boundaries limit your career opportunities.

Even if your 5-10 year plan is to eventually open your own business:

“Ultimately my goal is to open my own company in the next 8-10 years, as an entrepreneur or even an intrapreneur. This is why I’m interested your company: You have a well-established reputation for enabling your employees to develop their skills needed to succeed, you have a reputable mentor-ship program, and because you’re known for your intrapreneurial mentality.”

When answering the question “How quickly do you see yourself being promoted?” Present your experience and research, state your intentions, and then ask the recruiter how their promotion-system compares to the industry:

“I know through experience that the average person stays in their job 2-3 years before moving on, and in our industry even the most competent professionals usually need 3 years to be eligible for promotion. How does this 3 year promotion industry average compare to your company? And do you offer talent development or fast-tracking programs for your most promising performers?”

What’s important to understand is the highest-performing employees are not always promoted. It is possible to be so effective that you prevent yourself from being promoted, as by promoting their highest-performer would lead to an immediate loss in team productivity. When your objective is promotion, focus on performing above-average, but invest in training and developing your colleagues and networking professionally with your superiors so that when a promotion becomes available, you are the clearest choice for the role. For more, check out Lesson 188. How to build a career you’re proud of without burning bridges.

Below is a thorough life/career planning template I use when working with clients. The more comprehensively and honestly you fill it out, the easier planning your future becomes:

Your career plan should be detailed enough to allow you to make strategic decisions and take concrete actions – such as applying for specific types of jobs, joining specific types of professional networks, taking specific types of continued training and talent development, but flexible enough that were other opportunities cross your path along the way, you can take them.

For more check out Lesson 212. Why ‘being lucky’ is a crutch & 5 strategies to improve your luck.

Q: Will you stay longer than a year?
In Lesson 103: How to keep quality employees, Armin Trost explains it can cost up to 400% of the annual salary of the job to fill a position. Thus, high turnover can be a disastrous waste of time and resources.

Comparing how often a candidate changes jobs, as well as their reason for leaving each job reveals personality and motives of the individual, and suggests the likelihood of them settling in with your company.

As explained by David Patterson, SAP Recruiter, “Top talent are the top 10% of your workforce. They work harder, they work smarter, and they make their leaders look good. They make you look good. The problem is that 46% of all new hires turn out to be mis-hires within 18 months.”

That aside, the unavoidable problem is that during the onboarding process no candidate can become immediately autonomous and exceeding targets, and promising to do so would be unrealistic and might cost you the job.
To answer this question set you must understand your strengths and weaknesses as well as the value of each.

In every job there will always be a learning curve as you integrate into the company, establish trust and build relationships, learn their software, methodology, client-list, etc. This is the purpose of the trial period.

Unfortunately, inconsistent employment and inexplicable gaps in your professional experience can and may count against you in a hiring decision. Even romantic partners judge you using the same yardstick.

This question is also a power move to control the conversation and gain control over when it comes to negotiating your compensation package.

By challenging you in this way it’s also possible you’re not viewed as a reliable candidate.

If your professional experience is filled with gaps and short-term employment, highlight your accomplishments and how you increased your employer’s competitive advantage.

It’s not a deal-killer that you have inconsistent employment, what matters is the recruiter trusts you have every intention of investing in this position/company for the long-term, should they take the risk of hiring you.

Ultimately, if the recruiter isn’t convinced you will stay for a sufficient period of time, and in addition it’ll take too long for you to be autonomous in your position and contributing, the recruiter will likely reject you.

Always be improving. If you are currently unemployed and looking for work, take advantage of your free time by also taking trainings, receiving certifications and improving your skill sets.

A gap in your CV is acceptable as long as you use your time wisely and productively.

Recall the example in Lesson 239: How to improve your LinkedIn headline:

Same profile, two headlines. Which headline better demonstrates value and potential?

While the professional above has 17+ years of PR & communications experience, by looking at her professional experience you see she’s had 8 different employers and jobs have never lasted longer than 2 years.

Naturally, any recruiter seeking to save time and lower turnover would be hesitant to hire this professional.

To overcome the recruiter’s hesitancy, you have several strategies:

  1. Show how your career has evolved:
    • “My professional experience and opportunities have allowed me to travel the world. This has taught me a lot about the job and managing diversity. Having done that, I now want the experience of diving deeply into a particular job. That’s why I’m settling down in Paris and am looking to focus my skills for one company.”
  2. Show your goals has evolved:
    • “I’ve had incredible opportunities most people don’t get. And now that I’m married, we’re looking to buy an apartment in Paris.”
  3. Explain the practices of your profession:
    • “As you know, this industry favors short-term projects with external professionals for 1-2 year projects, and it’s rare for companies to enter into long-term contracts with one contractor. It’s for this reason I want a more permanent position as a project manager – to have more stability.”
  4. Tie your career ambitious into the recruiter’s brand reputation:
    • “The average professional today changes jobs every 2-3 years until they reach a point in their career where they are ready to settle down. I’ve enjoyed my jobs, and I’m proud of my accomplishments at each step, however I have not yet found a company willing to train, mentor and challenge it’s most ambitious employees with projects and responsibilities beyond their competence. I’m particularly interested in your company because you have a reputation for challenging any employee willing to step up and take responsibility. I’ll stay as long as I’m seen as an investment into the future.”
  5. Turn the question back on the recruiter:
    • “It sounds like you’re asking me about my level of commitment. I believe what you accomplish is a far better indicator of commitment than time. An effective leader with a deep professional network and good time management skills can accomplish more in 8 months than someone else may do in 2 years. I’ve always been committed to my employers, and in nearly all jobs I’ve exceeded expectations, as evident by what I’ve accomplished in my prior roles.

      I’m curious, how long do your employees usually stay in their current position? And with your company?
      (This gives you an idea into how long you can expect it will take you to be eligible for promotion.)

      Also, in exchange for commitment, what sort of employee compensation, promotion and development programs does your company offer to reciprocate commitment to keeping your employees invested and engaged over the long-term?”
Q: What’s your favorite job you’ve ever had? How could you make this job like that job?
An A-list professional’s CV is traditionally a chronological list of jobs that keep getting better and better as they go, since they are consciously and deliberately choosing those jobs for companies where they know they’ll enjoy and ensuring they’ll have the resources and professional network needed to succeed.

Therefore candidates with ‘favorite jobs’ far into the past or that didn’t lead to opportunities may suggest a candidate who may have gotten unlucky, made choices that limited their future movement, or didn’t keep themselves relevant, up-to-date and desirable to the ever-evolving world.
There are many reasons why a particular job was your ‘favorite.’ Focus on the individual elements of the job that can also be relevant to the job you’re applying for – or elements of a job that is imperative for you to apply for it: a boss who mentors or a team of culturally-diverse colleagues, complex projects that challenge you, compensation, autonomy, travel opportunities, etc.

Just make sure that with every job you take you can find a way to say this was one of your ‘favorite’ jobs because… If this means turning down jobs that pay well but that you dislike and have no way of improving once hired, then do what you must to position yourself financially so you can afford to turn down those opportunities.

Negotiation is about creating mutually-beneficial solutions. Don’t believe you can provide sustained value when you’re unhappy, no matter how much the pay.

2. Questions about how well you research and prepare for meetings.

Q: How did you prepare for this interview?
Q: What do you know about my company?
Did you choose to apply for this position because you really want to be a part of the company’s vision, or because you ‘need a job’ and are applying to anything and everything you find? Do you even remember applying for this position?

Rather than tell you about their company, a efficient way to control the conversation and verify your level of experience and preparation is by having you prove your level of knowledge to the recruiter.

The recruiter can immediately gauge whether or not you’re an A-list professional by how well you describe your preparation process, the company and the sources you refer to.

An A-list professional would also be in a position to point out areas for improvement and opportunities not currently being exploited in the market based on their experience and research.
As a top performing professional:

1) Always know the answer to every question before being asked. If you’re defending your thesis, passing an exam for a certification, taking a driving test, you’re expected to know all the information before you sit for the exam.

2) When you don’t know the answer, always have immediate access to the answer, your documents at hand, the internet, having a team of well-prepared experts with you or waiting by the telephone just in case.

3) When you cannot have immediate access to the answer, admit you do not and then tell the person when you will have the answer for them. Don’t simply say you do not know the answer; don’t define yourself by your limitations.

4) Never again find yourself in the position where you do not know the answer to the question.

5) Never ask a question that you could have found the answer to on your own. Direct your questions towards gathering opinions and obtaining information not available through basic research. Don’t define yourself by your limitations.

For more, check out:
Lesson 183. How to talk about books you’ve never read

Lesson 230. How to take notes effectively

Lesson 146. How to give presentations when you aren’t prepared

Lesson 239. How to use search engines to find information online

Concept checking involves testing how knowledgeable a person really is compared to how knowledgeable they claim to be.

Recall that your competitive advantage lies in your knowing how to find information and opportunities others cannot.

Basic research ideas to help you prepare for this question include:

  • Visit the company’s website for awards, partnerships, client list and social media profiles to learn what they offer and how they position themselves.
    • Pay special attention to how often they post online, the type of posts, their follower count and engagement (frequent posts with high engagement suggests they have a dedicated person/team managing online presence)
  • Browse the company’s ‘Meet the team’ and LinkedIn’s ’employee list’ to recognize patterns and understand their business organizational structure. Companies which proudly and actively promote their employee’s social media profiles are taking the risk headhunters may try to steal them, which suggests the company may have an above-average compensation package to keep them, or are bankruptcies waiting to happen
  • Look at the their jobs posted online to see how many jobs are available, what types of jobs, how aggressively they post jobs, how many people have applied and how often the same job is re-advertised again and again.
  • Verify the company’s values and claims on sites such as, and to see grievances and potential concerns you may want to clarify during the interview (see Q: Is there anything you want from me?)
  • Google “COMPANY NAME sucks” and “COMPANY NAME lawsuit” to see if anything serious has happened to the company and what the results were
  • Google “site:COMPANY WEBSITE” to find unlisted pages
  • Google “filetype:pdf site:COMPANY WEBSITE” to find PDF or XLS or image files on their website
  • And of course, stay on top of the news

[JOSHUA’S NOTE: Recall in Lesson 189. Conducting negotiations when you have to have the deal that competent negotiators can usually get what they want without having to lie or use manipulative tactics.]

Q: What questions do you have for me?
Recruiter’s PerspectiveJob Seeker’s Perspective
With such little information about you to work from, recruiters must estimate your value based on your answers to their questions, and the questions you have for the recruiter.

Candidates asking basic surface-level questions which could have been looked up online prior to the interview suggest an ill-prepared or incompetent candidate.

Candidates asking a single question with no follow-up questions based on the answer suggests an incompetent, poor researcher who doesn’t understand the bigger picture.

Repetitive questions that were already answered during the interview suggests a candidate doesn’t pay attention during important meetings.

Abrupt or ‘out of place’ questions on salary, vacation and benefits suggest a selfish or monetarily-motivated candidate. If recruiters perceive your priority is financial, recruiters may assume you’ll quickly leave for more money.

A-list candidates expect a mutual exchange of value between their employer and themselves, therefore financially-motivated questions are imperative to the compensation negotiation process and the sign of a professional, however the conversation needs to be addressed at the appropriate time; after you’ve established your value and ROI.
Your line of questioning reveal how you think, research and what you consider important. The questions you ask say a lot about you and your potential.

Your line of questioning also lets the recruiter determine how invested you actually are in the role with the company. Not diving deep and asking probing questions suggests a candidate:
– who doesn’t really care about the job
– who is uncomfortable speaking with those in authority over you (the recruiter determines whether or not you get the job, they have authority over you),
– who is more concerned with ‘getting a job’ than they are building their career,
– who is not good at researching and is willing to make risky, critical decisions with insufficient information.

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.” –Voltaire

Recall in Lesson 239. that you should aim to control the job interview by structuring your CV as an outline for the job interview, and your content should prompt the recruiter to say “Tell me more about…”

Although it differs from culture to culture, compensation negotiation is a necessary step in the recruitment process, and top candidates are comfortable discussing money. Being uncomfortable negotiating salary, or bringing it up at the wrong time lowers your perceived value. For more refer to Lesson 228. Compensation Negotiation Roleplay.

A job interview is a dialogue between two competent parties leading to a mutually-beneficial, win-win relationship. You do not demonstrate win-win by talking about your past; you demonstrate win-win by talking about their future.

Talking about your past and what you did for former employers forces the recruiter to qualify and evaluate your potential and fit with the company; you are at the disadvantage trying to prove your value. Talking about their future shifts the recruiter’s mindset: the recruiter is imagining your potential and ROI.

1. How does the company see this role evolving in the next 3-5 years?
2. Where do you see the company in 5 years?
– I’m more interested in my career than I am a job
– I want to know this job isn’t a dead end and will continually challenge me
– I want to know the company’s leadership is in competent hands
3. How does the company define success in this position?
4. How did the company determine this job’s mission and expectations?
5. How does the company provide feedback?
– I want to ensure I’m not being set up for failure
– I want to ensure clear definitions and transparent expectations
– I want to ensure expectations are realistic and that employees are treated fairly and transparently
– I want to ensure I’ve proof I can use to justify promotions and future compensation negotiations
6. If you could describe the team I’ll be working with in three words, what would they be?
7. How often do you communicate with the hiring manager?
– I want to see how I would fit into the team
– I want to ensure I’m joining a team with a good reputation and which is integrated into the company
8. Why do people say — about your company?
9. On several former employees mentioned —. Are their comments accurate?
– I want to ensure you listen to problems and aim for continual improvement
– I want to identify potentially disastrous systemic problems
10. How long has this position been open?
11. Why did the last person leave this job?
12. How long have you been recruiting in this industry?
13. In your experience, how has your company’s recruiting profile changed over the years?
– I want to ensure Human Resources understands the company they are responsible for and takes their role seriously
– I want to ensure I’m not setting myself up for failure

14. In terms of compensation, does the company have a general range in mind to negotiate from?
– I want to see the sources you use in defining value
– I want to ensure I’m compensated for the value I bring
– I want to see how comfortable HR is discussing pay, and how flexible their pay scale is

Top candidates have learned to treat the interview as a conversation between two equally competent parties, both of which have multiple options open to them (HR can choose another candidate, the candidate can choose another job). You could wait until the end of the interview to ask your questions after you’ve gathered as much information as you can based on the interviewer’s questions, or you could integrate your questions alongside the interview’s questions as you both determine whether or not you want to enter into a professional working relationship with each other.

If your job interview feels like a police interrogation, you’re doing something wrong.

research prepare

discretion competence

3. Questions that assess your discretion, competence, skill set and return on investment.

Q: What can you bring to my company that I haven’t already got?
Q: What’s the best idea you’ve had in the last 12 months?
Q: Tell me when you realized you had something unique and special to offer.
A-list employees may have enough well-rounded experience and knowledge about the industry to predict with reasonable accuracy what most companies lack, but the true purpose of this question set is to identify your unique selling points (USPs).

Recruiters are interested in knowing:
– How well do you know yourself
– How good you are at identifying and learning key skills
– Are you realistic about your strengths and development needs
– Can you sell yourself
– How would you be of value to the company
Because you cannot know who the other candidates are and what assets and options the direct superior has available to them, this is a trick question designed to control the conversation by asking you to justify yourself against other, unknown candidates.

It is quite possible you are the weakest candidate being considered for the post, and they only contacted you so the recruiter could meet their ‘diversity’ requirements.

Therefore, trying to prove you’re ‘better than everyone else’ suggests you’re arrogant, don’t know who you are, and can’t read between the lines to grasp the real message being communicated.
Recruiters are looking for great leaders, but they’re more attracted to professionals who can optimize and get the most out of the resources they have available to them.Secondly, when discussing your past projects, focus on ‘how much’ you brought to the company, not ‘how many’ teams or employees you managed:
– How much revenue you brought in
– How much of an impact you had

A professional who brought in revenue of 1,000,000€ with a team of 10 is more valuable than a professional who brought in 1,000,000€ with a team of 50.

It is not how many people you have under you, it is about how good you are at getting the most out of everyone you work with.

To answer this question you’ve several strategies available to you:

  1. Create a straw man fallacy whereby you a) identify yourself as an A-list (above-average performer), b) point out that there are B-list (average performers) and C-list (below-average performers), c) show how you are a better investment compared to B- and C-list candidates. A good example of this can be found in Lesson 228. How to negotiate your compensation package.
    • “As you can see in my prior roles I’m willing to accept additional responsibilities and consistently offer above-average results. Compared to other employees who prefer to only doing what they’re told, I could be a great asset to your team provided the job’s role is expanding.”
  2. Focus on your strengths other candidates likely won’t have.
    • “I’ve learned through your website and during this interview that most of your company revenue comes from Arabic countries. As an Arabic professional educated in London who speaks French and English, I’d love the opportunity to offer your clients a deeper level of customer service that many other professionals perhaps cannot.”
  3. Rephrase the question and company priorities.
    • “I don’t know the other candidates and what their strengths and development needs are compared to mine. I think at the end of the day it’s the person you trust and can depend on, who enjoys the work and who fits best with the team and the clients. I’d love the opportunity to meet the team I’d be working with as part of the final hiring decision.”
Contacting and offering job interviews to your competitor’s employees is a great and inexpensive way of gathering confidential information against competitors while offering the candidate nothing in return.

Interview questions should be strategically designed to gather as much information as possible, both about the candidate as well as their employer. It is further advisable to have your legal department refine interview questions to ensure laws are not broken in the process.

As a defensive move to limit vulnerabilities, confidentiality agreements and training should be provided to employees with access to confidential and sensitive information.

The ideal candidate would not insult their current employer, nor divulge confidential information and would instead turn the discussion towards how they could contribute to your company’s future if hired.

If the employee is willing to give away confidential information about their current employer, HR can only expect the candidate will do the same thing with the hiring company.
Recruiters look for professionals capable of accurately and objectively assessing a company and it’s situation, and avoid candidates willing to belittle their employer or give away confidential company secrets.

Your employer may have invested millions of Euros and years of research, trial and error and troubleshooting to attain the competitive advantage they have today. And by answering this question set you may be giving away company secrets, or revealing exploitable weaknesses. And for what; the possibility of a job? Your answering this question does not guarantee you a job.

Recruiters may be fishing for free information or may have specifically targeted you in a competitive intelligence attack against your employer. How can you be sure you are not the 50th employee from your company to have been interviewed? It’s not like your colleagues are going to brag about looking for work elsewhere.

Don’t give away value for free, especially when giving away valuable information also reduces your reputation as a trusted, discrete professional.

Even if your current employer is in a completely unrelated industry and your non-compete clause would not apply, your ability to extrapolate ‘best practices’ and lessons from your everyday life and creatively transfer them into seemingly unrelated areas is invaluable to an intelligent recruiter.

Rather than directly answer this question, instead sidestep the direct question and answer the underlying questions behind this question, such as:

  • Are you as important to your employer as you claim to be?
  • Could you be trusted with sensitive information?
  • Could you be a trusted communicator speaking on behalf of the company?
  • How informed are you about our industry and environment?
  • How well have you researched our company and identified our strengths and weaknesses?
  • How would hiring you improve our strengths and reduce our weaknesses?
  • What trends have you identified, both today and coming up? Are they temporary?
  • How do you see the industry evolving over the next 3-10 years?

urgent job change

4. Questions to determine how urgently you want to change jobs and your motives behind it.

Q: Tell us about your employer. What’s the worst thing about your current employer?
Q: What other interviews have you been for?
Candidates with job options tend to be attractive because it demonstrates social proof: that the candidate is also attractive to other companies.

But recall from Lesson 239 that recruiters are compensated for their ability to recruit and keep quality professionals. A high employee turnover rate is expensive (up to 400% of the annual pay for the position), makes their job harder and does not help the recruiter’s reputation.

Be wary of candidates who complain without proposing solutions. Candidates who complain about others will probably complain once employed.

Also, if they’re ‘abandoning’ their employer without first trying to improve their current situation, what guarantee this person will stay when work becomes difficult and troublesome?

A-list candidates do not list day-to-day responsibilities on their CV and instead list measurable achievements and accomplishments. Therefore having the candidate describe their job – what they like and dislike, gives you an idea of their strategy to attaining their achievements and accomplishments, and potential areas for improvement not apparent on their CV. Successful people are successful because of the behaviors and systems they use to solve everyday problems.
It is critical that you are respected as an A-list, top talent.

Once established, the number of interviews you have had – or haven’t had – is irrelevant because the recruiter understands you will be contacted by other recruiters. It is quality of interviews, not quantity.

In fact, upon learning ‘this is your first interview because you’ve just recently considering a job change’ may prompt the recruiter to offer you the job if they believe they can sign you before the competitors have a chance to contact you.

Never talk bad about your current or former employers. If you’re unhappy, it’s always your fault. Complaining says more about you than it does the person you’re complaining about. Instead, focus on the positives and relabel the ‘negatives’ as ‘challenges.’

You’ll never find a job or an employer that doesn’t have negative elements to it.

 What the recruiter really wants to know is how much competition they’re up against in recruiting you. If the recruiter feels you’ll be too much work to hire or that you’re taking your time to try to negotiate the best offer, they may abandon you for a more accessible candidate.

Even though you may have multiple competing offers, make the recruiter feel comfortable and that you are serious about their offer by focusing on what you like about their offer:

  • “I have had two interviews, one of which resulted in a job offer. But I’m particularly interested in your company because X, Y and Z.”
  • “You’re my first interview, and I’m waiting to hear back for another in the next two weeks. What’s important to me is working at a company with an enjoyable environment and offers an opportunity to grow internally.”

“You don’t get what you deserve.
You get what you negotiate.”
Chester L. Karrass

Recall in Lesson 77. Human Resources Management: Attracting & Selecting the Best Candidates that high-level and highly-qualified professionals tend to be ambitious, and are always in search of something bigger and better. Therefore, sign-on and other bonuses are usually included because so much time and money has already been invested in recruiting the person that the company would rather pay additional money to prevent the person from changing his or her mind and having to start the recruitment process all over from zero.

“Talent shortage is a real issue.” According to surveys conducted by Manpower Group and Jobvite, “72.8% of employers polled are having a difficult time finding skilled candidates and 45% of employers are concerned about finding employees with the necessary talents. 75% of recruiters have experienced a candidate ‘change their mind.’ In 53% of the cases, it was because they received a better offer.”

“You don’t get what you deserve.
You get what you take.”
Peaky Blinders S5E3: Lizzie Stark

Through recruiter negotiations, 68% of businesses have increased the average salary offer for candidates in the last year.” According to CareerBuilder, employers are open to added incentives and perks in their job offers:

  • 31% offered employee discounts
  • 25% offered remote work
  • 22% offered extra paid time off
  • 21% offered a signing bonus
  • 14% offered free lunches
  • 12% offered gym memberships
  • 8% offered daycare

If 68% of businesses polled increased their average salary offer for candidates, would you want to work for the 32% of the other businesses?

Q: What is your reason for leaving?
Past behavior is usually viewed as a reliable predictor of future behavior.

People join companies because of their reputation, but they leave because of their boss/team.

Conflict is usually the result of a mix between personality clashes and a difference of perspective.

The more quickly the recruiter can identify and eliminate negative people, the less damage they can do to the company culture.
This is an important question to prepare for because humans tend to be overly cautious and would rather eliminate threats than take a risk; especially when money and the recruiter’s reputation is on the line.

Assume the recruiter will ask this for every job you’ve had, and assume that this question carries more weight in the hiring decision than the others.

The way you describe former employers says more about you than it does them; it suggests your level of maturity, objectivity, personality and gives them a clue as to why you may eventually leave this job if hired.

Always aim to end relationships respectfully and on good terms, despite the reason the relationship fell apart. The world is too small to burn bridges.

As an above-average, high-performing professional, the ONLY acceptable professional reasons why you should leave your job and employer are because:

  1. You were laid off due to no fault of your own – the company went bankrupt or had to reduce/relocate workforce due to economic hardship. To limit this risk:
    • Stay continuously up-to-date in your industry so you are among the first to see serious problems before everyone else becomes aware
    • Stay up-to-date with your company’s communication, R&D and HR departments, since they will likely have prior knowledge to problems arising in the company
    • Continually develop and modernize your talent and skill sets so you remain in-demand
    • Maintain a deep professional network so finding new jobs is quick and easy
    • When faced with a company layoff:
      • Consider volunteering to be among the first to leave and benefit from the ‘golden parachute’
      • Consider offering to stay because your contribution is critical to a successful change management process
  2. You want to stay but your employer cannot offer you career progression. To limit this risk:
    • Set yourself up for mid- to long-term success by choosing jobs and employers wisely
    • Exceed goals and expectations and brand yourself as a must-have, high-potential, high-performer the company can’t afford to lose
    • Showing loyalty by first trying to improve your situation in your company before looking elsewhere. Even if it does not work your accomplishments can be listed on your CV and you can say you left the job in a better place than when you started
  3. You were headhunted and your employer could not/would not match the offer to keep you.
  4. Your life plans changed.
  5. The company over-promised. What they promised you never materialized or the job didn’t match the job description.

personality emotions

5. Questions that gauge your personality, emotional intelligence and self-awareness.

Q: How do I know the person you have presented today is the person I’ll be working with day in and day out?

If the recruiter asks this question, it could be:

  • You failed to demonstrate overall reliability and authenticity
  • The recruiter is new or inexperienced and so is asking a risky question
  • The recruiter is testing how you manage the stress of having your reputation and self-esteem questioned
  • The recruiter is attempting to lower your perceived value which they can use against you when negotiating your compensation package

There is thus no real answer to this question. Trying to ‘prove you are authentic and reliable’ puts you at a disadvantage because this is impossible to prove.

The recruiter is making the hiring decision with limited information on you, and you likewise are accepting a job offer with limited information on the recruiter.

Q: What would your current manager say about you?
Q: How do you interact with people at different levels?
Q: Where do you put the customer when making business decisions?

Should customers be at the center of every decision or are satisfied customers the natural outcome of making a great product or service?

Responses such as “The customer is always right” are not good answers. What matters is that you have correctly identified the target customer, that you understand their needs and pain points, and that you keep their needs and pain points at at the center of your solutions.

Your process of understanding your customer is more important than the customer.

As an employee whose performance evaluations determine your pay and promotional ability, understanding how your performance is evaluated is more important than making the customer happy.

If you have a good product or service but don’t understand your customer; then you basically just got lucky. If you receive a bonus or promotion and don’t understand why you deserve it; then you basically just got lucky.

Q: What do you think you’ll be most remembered for in your current role?
Q: Have you had to ‘hand-hold’ a demanding customer; why and what was the outcome?
Recruiters don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to be aware, objective, adaptable, able to accept criticism, identify and admit development needs and be working to improve them. They also want you to be able to take a step back and see the bigger picture.

When dealing with difficult or demanding people such as clients, government workers, etc., A-list professionals can usually solve the problem so everyone benefits while mitigating collateral damage: Spending 45 minutes calming an angry client worth 10k€ may keep that client but damage the relationships with 5 other clients worth 90k€ who were severely inconvenienced by not being able to contact you during those 45 minutes.

If by your answers, dress and behavior the recruiter cannot see you fitting in with superiors in the hierarchy, the recruiter will understandably be reluctant to set you up for promotions and greater responsibility.

For more on this check out lessons 184. Managing cultural and personality differences, jerks and assholes and 223. Perfect phrases for customer service.

The recruiter may be even more cautious if your answer to the question ‘What is your long-term career plan?’ is that you have your sights set for an executive position in the next 10 years.

As a competent A-list professional, if you want the job – and especially if you want to move up in the company – you must appear to be a mature and diplomatic yet firm communicator capable of asserting yourself and injecting your opinions into the group in the appropriate manner and when necessary.
These answers cannot necessarily be answered verbally. It should be obvious by your overall demeanor, presence eloquence and what is available about you across all interactions with you: online search results and any personal recommendations of others who’ve worked with you. This interview question is but a test to see if your words match what they assume to be true about you.

If your company conducts annual performance evaluations, use them as a reference. If they do not, sit down with your superior and ask them what your strengths and weaknesses are.

Don’t answer this question with a simple list of things you’ve accomplished – that is the purpose of your CV. Instead, use this question to tell stories about how your company is better positioned in the future having employed you. Discuss how you impacted company culture. Discuss memorable fun events you may have been a part of. Use this question to reveal your personality and reinforce your selling points.

A-list professionals have a professional working relationship with their colleague(s) and superior(s) and know precisely what their strengths and areas for improvement are. So as discussed in Lesson 239., collect official, formal recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. The more people talk positively about you, the stronger your reputation.

In addition, conflict and disagreements are a part of ‘fitting-in,’ especially as you move up the corporate ladder where decisions have serious, long-term and possibly irreversible consequences on the company’s bottom line.

A-list professionals build their reputation based upon their strengths, minimize their weaknesses and avoid their critical weaknesses.

Q: Where are your development areas? How are you looking to address them?

Recall in Lesson 239. that your skills fall into one of three categories:

  1. Your strengths that give you a competitive advantage. Recall in Lesson 116. How to win without pitching and Lesson 188. How to build a career without burning bridges that you should be known and respected in your industry and professional network based on 5-7 relevant skills.
  2. Your few weaknesses that slow down your productivity but don’t hinder you from doing your job. Nobody is perfect, and lifelong learning and improvement is imperative to remaining competitive. What matters is that your strengths are so great that others around you are willing to tolerate your weaknesses.
  3. Your critical weaknesses simply disqualify you from a job. Does the job require fluency in Arabic or legal working status in a particular company? These are imperative job requirements that cannot be avoided and requirements you simply do not have, and the amount of time it would take you to improve them to an operational weakness could have been better invested turning weaknesses into strengths.
Q: Is there anything that you can’t do?
Building upon the previous questions, recruiters don’t expect a ‘perfect’ candidate. They do however expect you to be aware, honest and working to improve weaknesses.

A candidate that fits with the values of the company and would work well in a team but requires some training is preferred over a competent asshole nobody likes and colleagues would reject.
Apply for jobs where your strengths are competitive advantages and train to improve your operational weaknesses.

As you move up the corporate ladder soft skills become more important than hard skills. Develop your soft skills and stay up to date on software and necessary hard skills.

Most importantly, demonstrate you take talent development seriously, you are a quick learner and that you are continually learning.

It is difficult to confidently claim you can or can’t do something because level of expertise is fluid, subjective and involves phases.

  • You may be ‘fluent’ in English with a TOEIC score of 900, but can you negotiate a contract during a 2 hour Zoom business meeting in English with 10 suppliers from the United States, Ireland, England and Argentina all speaking at the same time?
  • You may be certified in Excel Spreadsheets, however minor differences in how money is written (EX: $1,345.44 in the US is 1.345,55€ in France) slows down your productivity and results in cell errors and incorrect results, which make you appear incompetent.
From the book Mastering Coaching by Max Landsberg

What distinguishes proficient and expert professionals is their ability to see the world in context and holistically. Businesses, cultures, government, education is built from the ground up, and decisions are made based on this prior information and constraints. Everything is inter-connected. You must understand how all of the little pieces fit together.

  • Juniors and beneath need to be good at what they do: sales, UX/UI, accounting, marketing…
  • Seniors and executives need to know the causes and effects of how everything fits together: how sales, marketing and UX/UI fit alongside accounting.

It is better to under-promise and over-deliver than it is to over-promise and under-deliver.

BUT it is better to over-promise and then do everything it takes to live up to your potential.

Ultimately, do they trust you?

The internet is a free and open university for dedicated autodidacts willing to take the time to learn:

In today’s world, to remain uneducated is a choice.

Q: What words best describe your personality?
Q: What motivates you?
Recall that turnover is the “the rate at which employees leave a workforce and are replaced.”

The higher the turnover, the more difficult the recruiter’s job and the lower the recruiter’s negotiation power when it comes to their own salary and career opportunities. Nobody wants to hire a recruiter who can’t hire.

If you don’t appear to be a good fit for the job or company, if you don’t appear to be interested in the job and the company and wouldn’t enjoy coming to work, or if the recruiter feels hesitant to trust you, it’s only natural for the recruiter to reject you.
There is a difference between incongruence and depth of character, and the line is usually determined by how sincere and transparent you appear, and how well you explain your motives behind your actions and decisions.

At the end of the day the recruiter wants to know your true motives so they can determine if and how they can control you on the job. They want assurances the job and its compensation fit with what motivates you.

Determine what sincerely motivates you and then design your CV and LinkedIn profiles, and target jobs that are a good culture fit for your strengths, personality and long-term career objectives.
Q: What are your development areas and how are you addressing them?

Based on the recruiter’s experience assessing CVs and candidates, interviewing prospects and negotiating compensation packages with hundreds of professionals, the recruiter can usually predict with acceptable accuracy your current and desired salary range, how effective you are in setting and reaching targets, how long you’ve stayed with each of your employers…

  • Be careful that ‘what motivates you’ doesn’t contradict what you’ve previously said on your CV or during your conversations.
    • Don’t say “I’m motivated by challenge and money” if all of your previous job positions were minimum-wage, hourly pay
    • Don’t say “I’m motivated by travel” if you speak only one language, have never had a job beyond your country’s borders and your personal travel is mostly within your home country
    • Don’t say “I’m motivated to become a leader” if the reason you left your last job was because you couldn’t get along with your team, your superior or your clients
    • Don’t say “I’m motivated by learning and personal development” if you cannot also show training courses and certifications (online and offline) that you have or are currently taking
    • Don’t say “I’m motivated by entrepreneurs” if you don’t also have your own side-business or some form of investment in startups
    • Don’t say “I’m motivated by perfection and becoming an expert” and then apply for a job in sales or human resources where ‘perfection’ is nearly impossible and overcoming failure and rejection is a normal part of the job
  • Be sure what motivates you is of direct use to your employer.
    • Don’t say you’re motivated by money and then apply for work at a non-profit organization
    • Don’t say you’re motivated by helping others and making the world a better place and then apply for work as a debt collector
    • Don’t say you’re motivated by liberty and remote work and then apply for work at a brick-and-mortar company that requires on-site presence 100% of the time
  • Be sure you can clarify how your motivation can be of use to the employer should you learn the employer has a different perspective than you.
    • If you say you require a higher salary (motivated by money) and the recruiter says “Sorry, we absolutely cannot afford to pay you more, but we do offer on-sight lunch, a work out room and a private lounge for professor networking,” be able to to respond “The salary is important, but the money saved through reduced lunches and a gym makes this a fair deal” if this is a job you really want.
  • Be sure you describe yourself according to your strengths, not your weaknesses.
    • Don’t say: “I prefer working alone.” or “I hate working in open space.” Instead say: “I’ve found I’m most productive when I have designated time to work alone in between working with my team.”

handle stress

6. Questions that gauge your ability to handle stress and be productive during conflict and crisis.

Maturity of defenses is defined as “a healthy and conscious relationship with reality. Reality is accepted even when it is not appreciated. Uncomfortable feelings and thoughts are deliberately transformed into less threatening forms rather than being pushed aside. People (can be trained to) decide and choose to cope using mature defense mechanisms; they don’t just occur spontaneously.” It is how maturely and productively you manage fear, stress, rejection and failure.

Summarized from The Defense Style Questionnaire 60 (DSQ-60); Kylie Louise Thygesen; 2005

“The thing I’m looking for is how smart they are, how they’ll respond to things they aren’t expecting and how they’ll behave in a crisis because that’s the moment when you really see how they perform, behave and deliver.” – Richard Titus

Q: What item on your CV do you worry that I won’t see? Why is it important?
Human Resources must manage 100,000s of CVs and applicants each year. Applicant tracking software may make it easier to categorize those CVs into degrees of desirability, but as a consequence candidates become mere numbers as HR are only human and incapable of dealing with so much information, responsibility and pressure.

Assume HR will overlook important elements on your CV. Assume they will forgot to bring your CV to the job interview or have an outdated version of it. Even go so far as to assume the recruiter has accidentally confused you and your CV with another candidate!
An optimized CV is not only designed to be attractive to the human eye, it is also built to be easily read and understood by applicant tracking systems should your CV be uploaded into one.

An optimized CV is so perfectly written that were you to take one word out the entire sentence would break and no longer make sense. For more check out how Louis CK tells a joke and lesson 239. How to get your CV in front of recruiters.

An optimized CV is written so there is nothing on your CV that the recruiter overlooked. If people overlook something important on your CV, it’s your fault for not having better optimized your CV.
Q: Tell me about a time when you had to get involved in something with little guidance.
Q: Tell me about a time when you went the extra mile for a customer.
A-list professionals tend to be promoted quickly and have a higher than industry average compensation because they’ve learned how to negotiate for win-win solutions and because they understand that financial compensation is but one small way of winning.

Intelligent companies will also construct compensation packages that attract a particular type of employee. For example, employers promoting quality health insurance and daycare services would attract local employees interested in long-term employment.

Candidates flexible in how they are paid are in a better position to receive an overall greater compensation package. For more refer to Lesson 168. 20 tips to better negotiate your job offer and compensation package.
Questions such as “Tell me about a time when you went the extra mile for a client.” enable the recruiter to assess your negotiation and conflict resolution style. It also helps them gauge your true level of expertise, critical thinking and creative problem solving compared to what you claim on your CV.

If your dealings with clients do not ALSO improve your employer’s position in any measurable way, your compromising, avoiding or accommodating negotiation style is leaving money on the table and contradicting your claims that you’re an A-list, high-performing professional. A shrewd recruiter will use your negotiation style against you and you risk not getting as high of a compensation package as you could have.

Take our free and anonymous Negotiation, Leadership & Soft Skills Assessment to understand your negotiation style and more.

“Poor customer service may be one of the biggest failings of all big businesses… People too often don’t put themselves in the customer’s shoes.” – Richard Titus

Q: Have you brought a team together to do something they wouldn’t do individually?
A-list professionals know when and how to lead as well as when and how to follow, and can adapt to and manage most situations and personalities because they understand the bigger picture and thus focus on their long-term objectives, they understand the environment of their decisions and can acceptably predict the consequences of incorrect actions.

Learning how the candidate acts under pressure and with limited information, and if the candidate knows how to “convert conflict into creative brainstorming” is an effective way to determine how competent the candidate is.
The person interviewing you determines how you respond. Interviewing with the Director of Human Resources is not the same as a Human Resources Generalist you may never see again afterwards, which is not the same as interviewing with your direct supervisor or your colleagues.

Being ‘sincere,’ ‘direct’ and ‘confrontational’ with Human Resources might not cost you the job as long as they deem you’re a ‘good fit’ for the company and then never see you again… or not.

Being ‘sincere,’ ‘direct’ and ‘confrontational’ with your direct supervisor or colleagues might not cost you the job as long as they deem you’re a ‘good fit’ for their team and department…or not.

“A surprisingly high percentage of negotiations hinge on something outside dollars and cents, often having more to do with self-esteem, status, and other non-financial needs.
We’ll never know how.”
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Not having a credible story to adequately answer this question set suggests you may not be very adaptable and/or you’re not challenging yourself enough by accepting projects where you are missing information.

Taking risks requires solving problems with incomplete and missing information. Don’t expect to be eligible for a promotion if you’re unwilling to take on additional responsibility.
Q: Is there anything you want from me?
Q: Where does your employer think you are today?
Recruiter’s PerspectiveJob Seeker’s Perspective
Recall in Lesson 239 that recruiters are themselves assessed in part by the quality of candidates they recruit. The higher quality candidates they recruit and who stay, and the lower the turnover and higher the ROI, the stronger the recruiter’s negotiation position as they negotiate their own compensation package and career objectives.

Candidate CVs and LinkedIn profiles are expected to contain exaggerations up to full-blown lies. Offering job interviews during working hours can be an effective way of assessing the real value of a candidate. As discussed in the books Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, The Rules of Work and in Lesson 116. How to win client without pitching, the more scarce a professional’s time, the greater their perceived value.

Thus, the more readily available you are for an interview, the lower your perceived value and subsequent negotiation power may be: You’re assumed to be either currently unemployed or desperate because you’re looking for a work when you technically should be working.

Recruiters prefer employees who are loyal and hard-working, and are able to respond diplomatically to awkward, challenging questions.

If you’ll lie to your current employer, why wouldn’t I believe you won’t lie to me?

If you’re easily offended and aggressive to this question, why wouldn’t I believe you’ll become offended and aggressive to our colleagues and clients?
Recruiters may conduct 10-50 interviews per week, meaning they are competent at identifying discrepancies between a face-to-face interview and the recruit’s CV or LinkedIn profile. They will be far more experienced in interviewing than you, the job seeker.

If you’ve accepted to have a job interview ‘during working hours,’ the recruiter may be attempting to establish authority and control over your meeting and challenging your integrity, reputation and commitment, and they are testing your ability to handle confrontation.

By challenging you in this way it’s also possible you’re not viewed as a top candidate or that the validity of your CV and LinkedIn profile claims are being questioned.

How you respond raises or lowers your negotiation strength when it comes to negotiating your compensation package.

If you’re applying for companies that enforce traditional 9-5 working hours, you can safely avoid this question and send the message that you take your reputation and your employer’s time seriously by planning your job interviews ‘outside of working hours’ on your own time such as:

  • During lunch break
  • Immediately at the beginning (8:00-10:00) or end (4:00-6:00) of the traditional workday and show up late/early and leave work late/early
  • Over the phone or online

Even if it means scheduling your face-to-face job interview in 3 weeks time, top candidates are in high demand and are comfortable saying “No” to job opportunities because they know others will come along. Don’t let others dangle opportunities and use pressure tactics to dictate your planning and time management. If the recruiter sees you as a must-have top candidate, they be more flexible with your time restraints.

[JOSHUA’S NOTE: Recall in Lesson 78. Human Resources Management: How Branding Strategy Affects Recruitment that companies have:

  • Non-critical job positions of low-strategic importance which are relatively easy to fill and for which there is a large candidate pool don’t require much investment in recruitment.
  • Critical job roles of high-strategic importance which are very difficult to fill and for which there isn’t a large candidate pool require much more investment.]

However if face-to-face job interviews must be done during ‘working hours’, you’ve a few options to respond to this question “Where does your employer think you are today?”:

  1. Ensure you have a justifiable reason for accepting the interview ‘during working hours’ such as:
    • “I’ve taken a vacation day to be here as well as to take care of some other important things.”
    • “Perhaps our ‘working hours’ are slightly different to yours. We use flexible working hours.”
    • “I’ve fit our meeting around my other meetings.”
    • “I typically work between 8AM and 8PM, adjusting hours according to workload, deadlines and other responsibilities.”
    • “My boss doesn’t micro-manage as long as objectives are met.”
    • “The only reason I’m considering leaving my employer is because they’re currently unable to offer me a career movement. My boss knows I’m interviewing elsewhere and supports my career path.”
  2. Direct the discussion to the question’s underlying assumption that your employer does not know you’re using ‘company time’ to meet recruiters. For example:
    • “Are you asking because you think I may have lied to my boss?”
    • “I’m curious why you are asking this question? Are your working hours different from the industry norm?”
  3. Assertively respond in kind, challenging the recruiter’s and re-balance authority and control. For example:
    • “I requested to meet outside of working hours. You told me you were ONLY available to meet during working hours, so I could either adapt or turn down the interview. Is this a concern?”
    • “Do you ask this question to every person you interview?”
    • “You know, it’s been a long since since I’ve had to account for my physical location.”

Below is a summary of 5 basic types of leadership styles: If your manager offers little guidance, it may be because they don’t trust you or want to control every aspect of the decision-making process (dictatorial) or avoid all responsibility (avoidant), in which case you’ll need to demonstrate you can be trusted with responsibility, or proactively seek projects beyond the scope of your current role, or perhaps find a manager who is willing to share responsibility (participative, enabling).

As a top performer, 90% of your answers must focus on how you’ll make an impact at the company-level, not merely the individual role you’re applying for. Don’t talk about what you did, talk about how what you did improved the company as a whole.

Your ability to adapt your leadership style to the team and situation and influence other professionals to change their behavior. When telling stories about your leadership situations, talking about successes is good, but talking about failures as well as what you learned from them moving forward is more important. A person who has never experienced and learned from failure in life has an immature/maladaptive maturity of defenses (mentioned above).

prioritize deadlines

7. Questions that gauge your level of innovation, time management and ability to prioritize to meet deadlines.

Q: How have you been performing against your targets?
Q: Are you good at getting to the best out of your team?
Q: How do you prioritize your workload and can you give an example?
Q: Describe a time when a totally new, innovative approach was needed, and you took it.
Meeting targets and expectations (even unofficial and unspoken) are an imperative part of every job, and are the ultimate test of an employee’s return on investment (ROI).

Meeting targets requires teamwork and the ability to question current methods and create new methods. This is an effective way of establishing a hierarchy of future leaders and managers as well as employees who need to be trained or let go. Ideal candidates are able to work in a team and identify new ways of working.

Thus, the entire interview should be centered around meeting performance objectives as well as personality fit with the team because a team that doesn’t work well together creates a toxic environment that will not help meet targets.

Ideally to dissuade low-performing, C-list people and save time in the recruitment process, job descriptions would hint at how aggressive the position’s targets are as well as the bonus structure associated with meeting targets.

Intelligent companies also include stretch goals to motivate employees and allow their top performers to distinguish themselves.
You can set this question up in your favor by including on your CV (Lesson 239.) past accomplishments and targets you’ve hit for previous employers.

This way you can focus on storytelling, showing how you problem-solve, and demonstrating your leadership potential by explaining how hitting your targets helped other departments and your company gain a competitive advantage.

There will be aspects of your current job that are confidential, however as a top candidate you must be prepared to discuss your current targets (this month, quarter, year): Are you on target? Ahead? Behind? Why? What is your strategy for meeting your target? Etc.

Not knowing your current target and where you stand is a sign of a liar or of an unprofessional.

You should also ask the recruiter about the position’s targets and how they are measured. Your performance relative to targets allows you to position yourself for pay increases and promotions.

Any company incapable of or unwilling to clearly and transparently explain how employee performance is measured should be treated as a serious red flag.
Recall that recruiters are hiring because they have a problem they want solved, and hiring someone appears to be their best solution.

Top candidates understand this and so focus the interview on solving the recruiter’s problems, not ‘proving’ how good they were at solving the problem in the past.

This is a very subtle but powerful differenciator.
As an A-list candidate who things holistically and strategically, the answer to the question “How would you increase sales” is NOT “I would hire more sales people and expand.”

Your macro-level answer to this challenge would be “I would need to evaluate our product line and fit with our current market, then evaluate sales history and customer segmentation. Then we would determine product-market it in our existing markets to determine our best course of action: improve approach in existing market or target a new market? At this point we would then determine if it is necessary to retrain our current sales force, recruit, or both…”

As you can see, to effectively answer this question you must be well researched and understand the bigger picture of the company. Strategy development and implementation first. Start at the top-level and work down, not from the bottom and work up.

When discussing your previous and current targets, it’s important to emphasize your targets and achievements in context of the time and environment as well as compared to your industry and competitors. Consider the targets & achievements listed on this CV of a client:

A popular yet effective storytelling models include the STAR model:

  • Situation/Context you were in
  • Task you were expected to fulfill or Objective you were challenged to reach
  • Action you took to complete task or objective: this includes research, interviews, insights learned, thought process taken, methodology used…
  • Results of the action you decided to take
  • Lessons learned from this experience
  • Actions taken to either continue future success or avoid failure

Whatever you do, do not lie or make material misstatements.

  • Assume the recruiter will verify your story with your former employers
  • Assume during your trial period they’ll check for early signs your incapable of achieving what you claimed you were
Q: Tell me about your biggest success & failure.
Persuasive communication, introspection, and holistic awareness are all indicators of successful A-list professionals, and is glaringly obvious in their verbal and nonverbal communication.

Structuring interview questions that require storytelling can give recruiters the most amount of reliable information in a short period of time.
Learn how to tell good stories. Learn how to give persuasive presentations. Analyze how comedians with no PowerPoint slides or props are able to structure their stories and captivate an audience for hours.

In everything you do, always ask yourself: “How would this sound in a story?”

Look at your CV. What story does it’s content and form say about you?

“Tell me about your biggest success and biggest failure” serves several strategic assessment purposes:

  • Your communication style.
    • How well do you sell yourself and the projects you work on?
    • How good are you at storytelling? If you can’t sell yourself to the recruiter why would the recruiter believe you can sell the company to clients?
    • How well do you know your industry? Did you fail for amateur, novice reasons you should have already known? Can you competently use the appropriate terminology and explain complex problems simply?
    • Do you focus on the important elements or do you ramble on including irrelevant information?
    • Do I have to ask follow-up questions because you left out pertinent information from your story or because I didn’t understand something clearly?
  • Your ambition and potential.
    • Is your biggest success actually worth talking about?
    • Is your biggest success already mentioned on your CV or is it something new the recruiter is discovering about you?
    • Is your success scalable or limited to certain types of projects? Can you apply your lessons learned and expertise to larger, more complex projects?
    • If we gave you a leadership position, would you train others to do the project and then step away and supervise?
  • Your personality.
    • Is your biggest success in your personal life earlier in your career before your current job?
    • How creative are you at problem-solving?
    • How analytical are you: How much research did you do? Which sources did you use? What statistics did you uncover? How productive where you with your time spent?
    • How sociable are you: Do you rely on your social/professional network to help you gather resources, knowledge and assistance?
    • How discrete are you: Do you divulge confidential information about your former employers you shouldn’t? If not, how do you talk about confidential information and still remain in context and interesting?
    • Do you take all the credit for successes and push all the failures onto others?
    • Do you know why you failed and lessons you learned to ensure you don’t make the same mistakes over and over and over again?
Q: Have you ever put a colleague’s plans and goals ahead of yours.
A-list professionals are hard workers, but more importantly they are smart workers. Meaning, they tend accomplish more in shorter-periods of time than average professionals, so they can have more free time to relax, network professionally, research and develop their skill sets.

A-list professionals in leadership positions understand their job is to make others look good and they tend to be successful because they understand that a happy, autonomous and high-performing team is indication of a quality leader.

For more, check out lesson 216. What they don’t teach you at harvard.
As an A-list professional, your job is to develop a professional network of people who can help you and to organize your work load so you never miss a deadline.

In doing so, you can accomplish in 4-5 hours what other colleagues may need 8-10 hours to do. You’re now in a position to build trust and create allies by helping others meet their deadlines.

Because colleagues and superiors don’t know you build into your work day time for professional development, deepening your professional network and planning your next career move, they may interpret your help as ‘putting your own workload on the back-burner.’

For more, check out lesson 188. How to build a career you’re proud of without burning bridges.

Whenever you find yourself helping others meet objectives whilst also gaining no value for yourself, it’s likely you were were missing information or not thinking creatively enough. You didn’t negotiate that transaction correctly.

The question “Tell me about a time when you put a colleague’s plans and goals ahead of yours” assumes that you have in fact done so. Negotiation and compromise among professionals involves a mutual exchange of value. There are times when you will need to come second, however strategically you should always act in ways that simultaneously accomplish multiple objectives. A benefit to someone else does not mean an expense to you.

leadership diplomacy

8. Questions that gauge your leadership style, diplomacy and communication style.

Q: Have you had to deal with an aggressive person?
Q: Tell me exactly what you think of me.
Q: How do you motivate and retain top talent?
Q: Tell me about a time when you lost your temper.
Modern business requires persuading across languages, cultures, generations and personalities to work as a team to meet deadlines and objectives.

Recruiters want professionals with strong communication skills: able to say what they think in a way that fosters respect, builds relationship and enables productivity.

Recruiters need professionals able to make quick, accurate character judgments about others and about situations.

Intelligent recruiters also prefer professionals who understand that developing others is as important as developing themselves. Top candidates and leaders are those who identify and groom up-and-coming professionals within the company.

Recruiters want to be sure they can trust hiring you wasn’t a mistake, and directors want to be sure they can trust you to lead their employees in the directer’s absence.

Furthermore, as professionals take on more responsibility, their ability to attract, retain and motivate top talent is critical to success. A-list professionals have a clear strategy as to how they create and motivate their employees.
Whether you’re a manager or a worker, your hard skills are useless if you don’t have the soft skills to persuade the other very busy professionals to prioritize your needs over others’ so you can get what you need to meet your objectives on deadline.

How you describe your recruiter on the spot suggests how you’ll handle performance evaluations with colleagues and clients.

For more check out:
Lesson 216. Managing people, sales & negotiation

Lesson 225. Proven techniques to persuade

Lesson 198. How to tell stories that motivate, inspire and change people

Answering this question correctly could tip the balance of power in your favor when it comes to negotiating your compensation package.

You must be a good speaker, but effective communication is more about listening (verbal, non-verbal, situational awareness…) than it is about the words you use and the stories you tell.

With this question set the recruiter is essentially ‘making themselves vulnerable’ because they are opening themselves up for critique, even though they may care less what you think about them.

  1. Positive feedback. Focusing on the positive suggests you’re just saying what the recruiter wants to hear to give you the job
  2. Negative feedback. Focusing on the negative (as a means of improvement) is unnecessary given the limited amount of time you’ve spent together and can only hurt your chances of getting the job
  3. Comparative feedback. Focusing on the differences – positive and negative – aspects you liked about the employer’s recruiting process compared to others gives the impression you’re objective, analytical and you provide value: useful information on how they compare to their competitors
  4. Future leadership discussion. Side stepping their question and turning it instead towards the future of recruiting and how companies will gain a competitive advantage, citing facts and sources you’ve learned in your research and experience gives the impression you’re objective, a leader, curious, and well-educated
Q: What do you think your boss wished s/he knew about what you do everyday?
This question can uncover a lot of information about the candidate:
a) The candidate may not have listened to the question and assume you meant “What do you think your boss doesn’t know about what you do everyday?”
b) The candidate may reveal secrets s/he hides from their boss.
c) The candidate may speak positively about his/her boss
d) The candidate may speak poorly of his/her boss and reveal weaknesses and criticism; which is perhaps why the candidate is seeking work elsewhere. Talking poorly about their employers and giving away company secrets and deficiencies is a sign they may do the same about you.
You cannot possibly know what your boss wishes they knew about what you do everyday; you cannot read minds. If your boss needs information, they’ll likely ask. Even better, as an A-list professional, what is stopping you from telling your boss what they need to know about your everyday job?

Regardless of their leadership and personality style (discussed earlier), you should ensure you’re above reproach. Your minimum responsibility as an A-list professional to your company is to reliably meet your obligations and ensure your colleagues, superiors and clients have access to the information they need to do their job.

If your superior(s) choose not to use that information for whatever reason beyond your control, that is not your responsibility.

Lead by example. Leaders build more leaders, not more followers.

Assuming you have reliably met your obligations and ensure your colleagues, superiors and clients have access to the information they need to do their job, your response to this question could focus on the positive and not give too much information about your current employer away:

“I would say my boss is transparent about needs and expectations. She provides me with everything I need to do my job and I make sure I do the same.”

Q: What do you think is the most important trend in politics today in this country?
Certain countries and HR policy laws forbid recruiters from asking this question on the grounds they could be attacked for discrimination.

In truth the HR is more interested in how up-to-date you are with the world around you, as well as how diplomatic you are in expressing your viewpoints and politics, specifically how they relate to the company and industry in which you’re applying for work.

How well you manage this question reflects how well you would manage colleagues and clients who may have strong political and cultural views that differ from yours.
Having no response or an incompetent answer to this question indicates a mere employee who cares only of his/her job and is not interested in the broader picture.

Having a critical eye and being able to see how politics shapes your industry demonstrates your capacity for future promotions and leadership positions.

negotiation strength

9. Questions that gauge your negotiation style and strength.

Q: When and how should you mention salary negotiations? (Part 1 of 2)
Q: How much do you earn in your current position?
The recruiter has decided to interview you because you are at least qualified enough for the job that they’ll give you a chance.

By opening aggressively and learning your current salary before they’ve had a chance to really meet you and see what you’re capable of, you’ve given away your negotiation strength, and every interview question answer you give can be seen as your futile attempt at trying to earn your seat back at the negotiation table.

By telling them how much you currently earn you’ve also given the recruiter negotiation strength to increase the interview’s intensity to make you feel like you’re in a weak negotiation position.
Opening the interview with ‘How much do you earn’ is a direct test to gauge whether you are an A-list professional or not.

Culture and personality of the interviewer dictates when and how the topic of compensation comes up. It’s probably better to focus on demonstrating your value and wait for them to bring up compensation.

When they do bring it up, be prepared to comfortably discuss numbers and expectations.

Becoming uncomfortable or shy when discussing money is a sign of an amateur or someone who is weak. Shrewd recruiters will either take advantage of you and offer you a low value compensation package, or they’ll reject you for the job.

The way you handle negotiations with the recruiter is a strong indication of how you’ll negotiate with clients and subcontractors.

By your CV and how you answer your questions it should be obvious to the recruiter that you’re an above-average A-list professional and so you’ll likely come with a higher price tag. If this is not evident to the recruiter, you need to return to improving your CV.

To claim on your CV you’re an above average professional or leader, yet appear weak in your compensation negotiation, suggests you lied on your CV.

Compensation offer and negotiation is an eventual part of the recruitment process. Never begin working without a signed legally-binding contract and an agreed compensation for your work.

Depending on the culture, negotiations may happen early or late in the process. They may be a direct hard negotiation or it may be a discrete, hypothetical conversation about expectations.

When and how should you mention salary negotiations? (Part 2 of 2)

Your optimal strategy is to set yourself up as an A-list, above average professional and discretely use comments, stories and phrases that let the interviewer understand you expect and are comfortable with a compensation negotiation, and then let the interviewer choose when they will bring the topic up. It should be obvious to the interviewer that you are more productive than the average professional, and that if they want you, they’ll have to work with you to find a compensation you both are happy with.

Your CV outlines attractive examples of measurable ways you’ve strengthened your former employers’ position – evidence of what you’re able to do for the potential employer, and if the compensation is commensurate to the value you bring, you’re ready to begin working as soon as the contract is signed.

As outlined in further detail in Lesson 228. Anatomy of a top candidate salary negotiation and Lesson 169. How to negotiate your job compensation package, always talk in terms of your total compensation package.

At minimum, have at hand or in memory:

  • Your total average monthly and annual gross salary
  • Bonuses you receive
  • Overtime pay rate (if applicable)
  • Benefits package
  • Total vacation days
  • Travel expenses
  • Complimentary services and expenses such as dry cleaning, gym membership…
  • Any other elements included in your total compensation package

For example, your current gross annual salary may be 50,000€/year, but when you include all the other elements that make up your total compensation package, you may ‘earn’ closer to 70,000€/year. Your total compensation package is thus 70,000€/year.

By NOT negotiating based on your total compensation package, you may end up taking a significant pay cut from your current compensation package.

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