A Forbes magazine’s article, Top Executive Recruiters Agree There Are Only Three True Job Interview Questions, 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.
1. Can you do the job? 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?” And other questions that gauge your technical abilities.
For many employers this is the most important component of the potential employee, but the following three cannot be overlooked. 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.
2. Will you do the job? For the motivation part, they’ll want to know if you’ll enjoy 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. Think about it; would you want to hire someone who isn’t totally into working for your company? Probably not.
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.
3. Will you fit? 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.”
To some employers this is even more important to demonstrate at an interview than the technical piece. Technical, or job-related skills, can be learned. Most personality skills are difficult to learn, if not impossible. Read this article in which the author asks the following questions about employees teaching their employees teaching these skills:
“Can you train someone to become more sensitive? What about teaching a talkative person to become a listener?”
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.”
4. 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.
“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.
Being able to address the three most obvious concerns employers have is what gets you to the fourth concern, can they afford you. If you do a great job with the first three, the last one should go smoothly, just as long as you’re reasonable.