Archives for posts with tag: Job

When you’re interviewing for a new job, there is in my view one type of question you should parry. That question is anything to do with being in the role you’re interviewing for.

The question is sometimes phrased along the lines of:

‘Can you describe what your typical day might be if you took this job?’ or

‘What would your priorities be coming into this role?’

You might be tempted to blurt out ‘how the heck do I know? I don’t work here, I don’t know the company, the people, the products, services, challenges, objectives or anything else well enough to answer that. I need to assess the situation first before I decide anything. Alternatively, I can share with you some vacuous generalities if you like…’ Assuming you want to work here, I don’t recommend quite such a confrontational approach to what is an unfair question.

Rather than attempting to answer the 64-thousand-dollar question, it’s much better to parry it with ‘It depends‘ and illustrate the approach you would take to learning the role so that you’d be best placed to answer the question with the knowledge, experience and authority of having lived it for a couple of weeks. After all, that’s what you did in previous roles and look how well they turned out, right?


Here’s what I’ve learned about applying for jobs over the years, and I think this information is pretty current. It’s also pretty obvious, so excuse this if it comes across as full of platitudes. My hope is that it will save you time and increase your success rate.

Firstly, if you don’t know a single person in or associated with the company you’ve seen a job ad for, think very hard before applying. It’s like getting an unsolicited invitation to tender for business, your success rate is 0 to 5%.  This sounds defeatist, but you have to go with the numbers and the politics.

One Job, Several Interlopers

One Job, Several Interlopers

Secondly, you can set up all the job alerts in the world, but it’s waste of your time to apply for the role if you don’t know who the company is. If you don’t know who the company is, you can’t consult your network to find out who you know who works there or with the company. You have to hope it’s a recruitment company that has the exclusive right to the role and is not simply trawling for CVs. Guess who’s in control there? The picture here is from a few years ago, and is clearly 4 different recruitment companies looking to hit the firm with candidates for the same role.

Thirdly, if someone reaches out to you, asking you if you’re interested in applying, this is a good sign. You’ve pulled them to you, rather than pushed yourself to them. Now you have some measure of control, because you know they’ve done the research and you look like a good fit.

Fourthly, and perhaps most transparently, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, perhaps more so these days. Your network of contacts and experiences is unique to you and it’s an asset that should be secured and used to help yourself and other people you value.

In a previous post, one of the 3 things I discussed that you need to satisfy in an interview scenario is ‘can this person do the job?’ If you want the job, and the company culture is right for you, how do you persuade the company that you’re worth the risk if you haven’t got the experience?

Every successful line manager, Director or CXO at some point was a first-time line manager, Director or CXO – the X of CXO meaning any C-Suite role, like CEO, CFO or COO. Someone had to give them their first shot.

If you’re interviewing for a sales manager role, and the company is looking for experience of having led a multi-million dollar sales team, and you don’t have it, it’s very hard to argue your case. What generally happens is that those people were top performers in that team and graduated to become the team manager, even though the skill-set required for a manager is completely different to that of a ‘sole contributor.’

When I look back at the jobs I’ve had, I’ve switched around quite a lot, and in quite a few cases my boss at the time decided I was worth the risk and – to adapt a well-known ABBA song – took a punt on me. Happily, I paid them back on their decision.

When you need someone to take a punt on you, you need to fall back on things that will make you successful in a new role, evidencing your adaptability, perseverance, commitment and enthusiasm, while drawing parallels from your career where you made similar leaps. Then, when you’ve presented your best case, relax, you’ve done all you can. They will or they won’t.