The Money Question at Interviews

It has become a rule of thumb for employers to ask prospective employees salary expectations at interviews amongst other questions. The information is sought to probably clarify a number of issues. First is affordability; whether a company can afford to pay for the value a potential candidate might bring on board. I must say that professionals with track record of high performance are highly sought which tend to tilt pay negotiation in their favour. This is why it is imperative for employers to have an idea of salary expectation from the word go to enable them decide whether to even proceed to the next level of a recruitment exercise. It saves everybody’s time!

A second reason for wanting to know salary expectation of a potential hire is to gauge the industry pay for a vacant position. It allows organisations to know how they are faring in terms of employees’ compensation. If it needs to be jerked up to attract exceptional talent or demand better performance from employees for a company that is way up the ladder in terms of pay.

A recruitment exercise is a bargaining process and it is quite possible for an employer to make a very good deal for a highly sought after professional. Yes it can happen! A lot of reasons might necessitate a professional to change job. Qualified people could take a pay cut for jobs located in the big cities which would launch them onto the big stage. It could also be for a company’s brand and so many other reasons. If I can save money for my organisation and still be able to land a top hire, why not?

On the other side of the divide however, most candidates don’t do well in the bargaining process. Some tend to shy away from the question by opting to go for industry pay of the vacant position. While some would ‘innocently’ succumb to whatever is on the table. Remember an interview is an avenue to prove your worth, why prize yourself low? If you think you are good enough for the job, demonstrate it by asking for a good fat pay!



What are your areas of weakness?

Being humans, we all have our frailties. There has to be that habit or skills that need development. While it is easy to come up with those strong attributes and excellent work ethics that make up the individual being, the same cannot be said of our weakness. As individuals, we often do not admit our weakness even though a third party would easily identify this. A third party here means that person who relates with us regularly at a close range. This ranges from supervisors, colleagues and even our spouses.

The intriguing question this piece is probing is why it is difficult to individually come up with one’s own weakness. A regular interview question is to ask a candidate his area of strength and weakness. As a HR person, I have heard candidates give ‘not-too-intelligent’ answers when responding to the weakness aspect. The probability of ‘strength and weakness’ question coming up in an interview is almost one. Consequently, It is expected that most post people would rehearse their answers before appearing at interviews. Yet, most answers we get are not genuine and are ‘crappy’ at the same time.

Apart from job candidates, interview experts are also evasive on tips to answering the tricky question. The common advice is for candidates to stress on efforts they are making to correct identified weakness. Whatever that might be! I do share the constraints of coaches and mentors in attempting to render adequate counseling on the ‘weakness question’. Most interviewers are never explicit on the question. Weakness could be in the areas of skill sets or behavioural traits and other psychological competencies.

If interview experts and counselors are evasive on ‘weakness-question’ because of its ambiguity, it is then proper to turn to recruiters and other HR professionals who sit at interview panels. Mostly, the question is being thrown to elicit certain information or reactions that would help the panel in making a sound judgment on suitability or otherwise of a candidate. Are we expecting candidates to be upfront on their weakness? If the answer is yes, then most candidates do not tell the truth on this.

It is imperative we revisit those generic interview questions because candidates are likely not to be truthful with their responses. What we ask at interviews are set of similar and pre-determined questions. It is like a list of commandments which are meant to be stuck to that in so doing we shy away from probing questions and miss out on good fit. It is high time we reviewed our interview strategies.

The title used for this piece is borne out of the need to evoke changes in the way we conduct interview. It is also genuinely aimed at getting an answer to the ‘weakness-question’ as I have always wondered why individuals are never forthcoming on this. If it is also so important for employers to know the weakness of a would-be-employee, it is more important that the question is asked without any form of vagueness. It is only then; career coaches and mentors can give appropriate guidance to their wards.

Bashir Mudi Baba can be reached on Twitter @El_De_Bash