There are few things more frustrating for a headhunter than asking a person basic questions that revolve around what they, the job seeker, are looking for in a job and receiving only uncertain answers in return.
I’m not talking about something like salary; that’s a question where a wise person states a target objective and is flexible enough to let the market decide their value.
No, I’m talking about a few very basic interview questions that, nevertheless, many job seekers can’t seem to answer properly:
1. What Is Your Current Compensation?
The three wrong answers are:
- A lie (A lie will generally be found out after you’ve been hired. You know what happens then? While you’re out to lunch or after you have gone home one day, your ability to log in to your company computer while be terminated and security will be waiting for you at your desk with your personal items packed to escort you from the premises.)
- “I won’t tell you.” (This reveals that your salary is much lower than the amount advertised and that you are seeking a big bump.)
- “Do you really need to know that?” (Yes. I do. Because my client will want to know. They will ask about it on their form. Many companies will terminate an interview when a candidate refuses to answer.)
2. Geographically, What’s Acceptable to You?
Some people are willing to drive more than others. Some people must follow mass transit routes. Some people are willing to relocate at a company’s expense, and others are willing to relocate on their own for the right opportunity. Think about it before your next interview. We need to know this stuff.
3. What’s Not Working for You That Is Prompting You to Look for Another Job?
Most of the time, money is not the only factor in a person’s job search. Be prepared to discuss your reasons maturely.
An immature answer would be, “I hate my job,” or “My boss is an idiot.”
Instead, say something like this: “I would like to leave consulting and move to industry so that I can avoid the heavy travel that is keeping me away from my family too much.” It’s practical, it gets to the point, and it gives the headhunter some valuable information about you.
4. What Are You Looking for in a New Position?
Nine times out of ten, people don’t think about this before they speak to me. What am I supposed to do? Guess? “I’ll know it when I see it” isn’t helpful either. How can I match you with the right opportunity if you don’t even know what the right opportunity is?
5. What Was the Corporate Culture Like at Your Previous Employer?
Did you like it? What did you like about it? What didn’t you care for? I need to know if I should aim to place you in a job at a firm with a similar company culture – but more money and more interesting work – or a job with a totally different culture.
Answering these questions isn’t just helpful for headhunters. It’s also beneficial to you. If you take some time before your next interview to decide what is important to you in your next job or organization, you will find that your interviews will be much better – and so will your results!
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like 100 years.