Okay, now Forbes magazine in its article, Top Executive Recruiters Agree There Are Only Three True Job Interview Questions, has confirmed what employers are looking for in candidates. This is not new news. Employers want people who can 1) do the job, 2) will do the job, and 3) will fit in (or be tolerated).
But there’s a fourth piece to the puzzle Forbes doesn’t mention, which is “can we afford you?” Unfortunately, this seems to be almost as important as the other three requirements, as evidenced by the phone screening, where you’ll most likely get the salary question.
Let’s look at the four components employers look for in a candidate.
Of course interviewers won’t ask the questions phrased as such: Can you do the job? Rather they’ll pose them as: “What skills do you see being necessary to do the job?” “Tell me how you’ll handle problem X.” “What kind of experience do you have in the areas of Y?”
Having the technical know-how is essential to performing the job and advancing in your career, but there are other qualities employers look for in candidates, perhaps qualities on par with the hard skills.
For the motivation part, they’ll want to know if you’re in love with the responsibilities and the mission of the organization. Will you work until the job is finished? “Why do you want to work for this company?” may be a question you’ll have to field. Were you ever given the directive, “Tell me why you applied for this job.” Nerveracking, to say the least.
How can you prove your desire to work for the company? Stories using the Situation-Task-Action-Result (STAR) formula are a great way to demonstrate competencies that talk to your desire to do the job.
Showing that you’ll be a good fit is a tough shell to crack and a concern many employers have. It’s about your personality. They don’t want to hire someone they’ll have to let go because he can’t get along with co-workers. In this area you’re likely to get behavioral-based directives, such as: “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an irate colleague.”
A surprising figure stated in the article claims that: “40 percent of senior executives leave organizations or are fired or pushed out within 18 months. It’s not because they’re dumb; it’s because a lot of times culturally they may not fit in with the organization or it’s not clearly articulated to them as they joined.”
Are you affordable? Salary negotiation makes some people’s skin crawl because they see it as a confrontational discussion, when in fact it’s straight forward. Companies don’t want you to resent them by paying you too little. However, a smart company sees this as business, so they’re not going to give away the farm.
Martin Yate, in Knock ‘Em Dead, page 249, says, “They want you! Before you sign on the dotted line, however, you should be well schooled in the essentials of good salary and benefits negotiation.” He advises to be a master negotiator but be reasonable about your expectations. Do your research.
“What do you think you’re worth?” might be a question you’ll get. Or, “What did you make at your last company.” Be prepared to answer it so you don’t lose out on the salary you deserve. As well, don’t be surprised if you’re out of their price-range. The final piece.