I suggest you be ready to answer the following three questions. They may not be asked in this same way, but some variation of them will (eventually) be asked in the interview process. Be ready for them. If you aren’t you may not make it to the next level.
For each question I’ll add a few specific points that highlight some of the underlying elements to each questions. For example;
What are they looking for?
What Should you Say?
What should you NOT say?
These questions are really designed to help the interviewer understand your passions, prerogatives and perceptions.
The Three Questions
1. What is your ideal job?
They are looking for you to know what you want. To know what you don’t want and to know where you are going. They want to hear what you are passionate about.
For example, if you are a great project manager … have a story around that. If you love to write (computer) code you may want to share why. If you enjoy getting your hands dirty in the shop you will want to let the interviewer know why.
I’ve met some coders who love to solve problems. The way they solve them is in their head and then they translate that into code. That’s their passion and they revel in it. One interesting thing I have noticed about some of the best coders I know is that they are also excellent musicians.
Don’t say something like … whatever is available. That might get you a job delivering the newspaper or flipping burgers, but it’s not going to get you into a the job of your dreams.
There is nothing wrong with flipping burgers.
If that’s your passion … go for it. It worked for Five Guys.
2. What is something you are really proud of?
First and foremost this should be something work related. From the first question seeking the answer to your ideal job the interviewer is again looking for what you are passionate about. Why? Because you are likely to be willing and able to put a lot of time, energy and effort into your passion projects.
Being able to identify a work related accomplishment will show the interviewer that you can distinguish between prerogatives.
Planting a community garden might be a nice way to give back, but it’s not likely going to have much of a direct impact to most roles you are considering.
Know your range. Have a high and a low number in mind.
The interviewer doesn’t want to trap you. That’s not their intent. They want to make sure you have the perspective for the role and salary range. You may ask the pre-emptive question “What is the salary range for this role?” before they get to it. This is OK and should not be discouraged. However, you should have a good idea of what it should be.
Have a number in mind that you would prefer not to drop below. It doesn’t mean you wont … for the right role that exactly meets your needs on the Passion Scale.
DOE doesn’t cut it.
Where DOE means “Dependent Upon Experience”
Including DOE on job descriptions is not uncommon. However, DOE is more of a catch-all for a wider range of candidates.
Once you are in the interview you need to know what you are worth.
Pro Tip: Be willing to stop the interview and walk away.
This is not a stunt. If the salary does not match your expectations (and skills) you may be better off stepping away. Before stepping away … make sure you ask qualifying questions so that you completely understand not just the salary, but the role and the expectations for successful execution of the role.
Just Three Questions
Most interviews include a lot more than three questions. The three highlighted here are what I recommend every interviewee be ready to answer in any interview. Two of these questions are often used in informal situations – parties, commutes, casual conversations at the local coffee shop, etc.
Having an idea of your ideal job and being able to quickly summarize something you are proud of is a set of skills you should hone and be ready to deliver on a moments notice. Not being able to do so typically means you haven’t thought about it much. Which, I hate to tell you this, but could quickly eliminate you from your ideal job.
Take the time to consider each of these three points.
Develop a quick, concise and conversational way to communicate these points.
There have been volumes written on the “salary negotiation” aspects of point 3. Some of these are worthwhile reading, but knowing YOUR compensation range is the key. Then you can negotiate around that and utilize some of these skills to secure additional benefits.
Interviews are stressful. But, they don’t need to be. Especially when you are ready to answer these three questions.
Let’s hear from you:
Have you heard these three questions in some form?
What questions have you heard?
What’s your favorite / least favorite interview question?
Add your thoughts here and we’ll see if we can get a great list of questions going and some solid answers to help our friends that are out there interviewing now. Even if you aren’t interviewing now your thoughts and expertise might be able to help someone else.