I imagine there’s some lunatic that we’re calling a “thought-leader,” who is passing out some horrific job-interview ending advice, including:

“Never answer a question about compensation.”

I did not hire five people in the last week because they would not answer this question:

“What are your expectations for salary, bonuses, and other compensation as an employee of our company?”

I am hiring up for one of my firm’s business units. It should be easy to find great people, because this economy has unfairly displaced thousands of quality employees – including those with the specific technical skills my firm requires.

It is easy to get resumes in my email box, but nearly impossible to get answers in the actual interviews.

When I ask this very important test of their character: “What are your expectations for salary, bonuses and other compensation as an employee of our company?”

They “respond” by telling me how motivated they are. They tell me they want to “contribute” to our organization. They say, “What is the salary range?”

This is all I need to know about their personal brand. Evasion is one of the brand’s defining qualities.

Don’t be stupid. This is not only a question about the money you expect to earn, your participation in profits, or your desire for particular benefits. It’s a question that reveals how you are going to conduct yourself during the many difficult moments that are a part of a growing, revenue-generating, and profitable business.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a waiter with a menu. I’m not presenting you with choices so you can decide who you are for purposes of this interview. I’m a potential colleague who wants to work with people who can be trusted and who are sincere, while they also have skills and experience to do the jobs that are yet unfilled.

Before you meet me, you have seen the job description and requirements.

I’m going to ask you questions that lead me to understand if you have the qualities my firm requires: good character, self-motivation, and the ability to collaborate with others. Those are qualities of the personal brands that sync with my business one.

Be straightforward

The one paramount brand identity I require isn’t something you can “customize” for the job interview.

I want to work with people who are straightforward.

I don’t play cat and mouse. I want people whom I can trust for a truthful, accurate, and reliable answer to all the questions I’ll have in the months and years ahead as we grow this business unit. I need people who will ask the hard questions that reveal our weaknesses so we can build what we now lack.

So, just answer the questions we are asking in job interviews. Don’t use diversion tactics. Don’t take fifty words when five will do. Show what type of person you are.

Think of prospective employers as a personal brand polygraph test. If you are a person who is typically evasive, loathe committing, or are generally dishonest, it’s clear from your discernible dry mouth and sweaty hands.

While you’re destroying your chances with your workaround responses, you are doing one person a favor. The trials of meeting bad candidates make a good candidate glow.

Let it glow.