Everyone wants to be wooed and pursued … even employers. The motivation question lies behind a huge part of the interview process, especially when speaking with a competitor. Last blog entry, we looked at qualifications, the first of three questions present at every interview: “Can you do the job?” The next question is “Why do you want it (and us)?”
Mostly, people move from one place to another because they are unemployed or underemployed. The thrill (or the check) is gone and the only way to get it back is in a new job. But what differentiates one job from the next is the query pondered by company and job candidate alike. It is a question that must be addressed in every job interview. Sometimes it is asked directly: “Why do you want to work for us?”
Other times it is implied: “What are you looking for?” It is a vital question to plan and prepare for in your interview. It can also be effectively used to sell your candidacy to that employer. In the same way that you must address the qualification question in direct response to the company’s most pressing needs, so must you address the motive question. You must present a thoughtful, researched, logical answer to the company’s query "Why us?"
If you are unemployed, the answer might seem obvious. Therefore, you may not think about the question. You might assume that the company understands that you want work. But the question here is not why a job, it’s why this job. You must plan and prepare your answer to this question in advance of the interview. Even if you are there only to explore the opportunity or its potential over your current job, you must still address the motive question to be credible. I can’t emphasize this enough.
Over the years, I’ve met many cocky candidates, people I’ve recruited from a competitor who enter an interview not wanting to appear eager or enthusiastic. “Let them chase me” they say, then find that, surprisingly, they are not. This dance of the coy conversation typically ends in an interview not about career potential, but about shared acquaintances, industry buzz or their golf game. At the end of the interview, the parties each go their own separate, wary ways, unsure about why they met. Unfortunately, they may be unable to logically move to the next step because its purpose was not addressed. In my experience with these situations, those best at playing hard to get invariably win … they don’t get got.
You can always find ways to end an interview process voluntarily and honorably. The position as presented “doesn’t offer a big enough challenge” to warrant a move or the “timing” for a move is not quite right, or the like. The point is that you may never know the strength of a competitive offer or its long-range potential if you do not consider and address the motive question. In a competitor interview scenario, it may even outweigh the qualification question. You will never know where a successful interview may have ended. What’s more, even if the immediate situation isn’t right at present, the impression you create may open up the doors to future opportunities. It all lies in the impression you created in this introductory meeting.
So what do you do to prepare for the motive question? Research the company, learn about its executive team and products, market share and mission statement. Listen intently for what you might contribute to the organization. Stress the confidential nature of your interest but your openness to personal and professional growth. You might even suggest what may be missing in your current role in the way of growth opportunity or development. Do not bad mouth your company. Simply cite anything that you lack personally that might trigger a move. This must not be money or benefits. It may be market forces, management opportunities, personal challenges. Only by suggesting your motivation can you discover the potential availability of its existence at the new company.
Then, let the wooing begin.
E-mail me with thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.