This is a values question and they’re trying to get a sense of your values vis-a-vis work or the work environment. They removed money from the equation because that’s the pat answer that people would go with so they’re trying to get a level deeper because, frankly, there are a couple of ways that they can think of the answer to this.

Number one is you’re revealing something about yourself and your thought process and the values that you layout here indicates how they can sell to you. You’re telling them how to appeal to you and their organization. Number two is they’re learning from you the variables that your current employer is going to use as part of extending a counteroffer if they’re going to extend the counteroffer.

So, understand the thought process here as to why they’re doing this. They’re learning about you and how you think. They’re learning about the levers your current employer will use on you to try and persuade you to stay. It’s an interesting question in that regard AND if your values and their’s differ.

So, for example, if you want to be part of a group and they’re looking for smart, ambitious people, there’s a potential conflict because . . . I’ll use an old story from Tony Robbins.

I remember a Tony Robbins workshop I attended where he talked about how advertisers sell to people on TV. He would say there are five different personality types– people who want to be a part of something or they call the belongers.  People who are societally conscious by which he described them as being the biggest group out there where they don’t want to be sold to. They just want to be given information that is kind of like with the web does for us these days or what apps do for us. Some people are achievers — they’re just successful, you can’t sell to them except in a very understated way. There are needs-driven people. There are emulators. They want to be achievers but they don’t make enough money. So, they tend to be on the younger side. They are sold via sex on TV. So it’s all those car/girl car/girl switches back and forth or the commercials for women where she’s licking her lips on camera. And there’s a close up of the lips. It’s kind of like a similar value that they’re looking for to sell to you.

So, for example, if you talk about your team, “we’ve got a wonderful group of people here. They are talented, they are smart, they care for one another.” If you talk about the challenge of the work, you know, They will turn around and talk with you about “we’ve got a challenging project ahead of you that you could sink your teeth into.”

Notice how what they can do is turn your language to try and persuade you to join. It’s a very clever question. And, Thus, ideally, you can shape your answer with multiple answers. Not just one.  Multiples. And the funny thing. I’ll give you an example.

“You know, I don’t know if I could, if I can pick one thing I would say what could keep me there? What would inspire me to keep working in my last job would be an improved caliber of work and continuing to work with great people. I like the team. I wish I could have done something more interesting. I’ve been on the same project for the last two years, with no changes and responsibilities. I was doing well, and the issue came down to, not seeing anything more there because they were very happy with my work on this project and not giving anything new.”

So, notice how that the next employer can now flip this and talk with you about “We’ve got some challenging work ahead. Not only that we have a value where we believe that individuals in our organization can get chewed up for new things and talk with you about other opportunities that can be available to you down the road,” and, thus, whet your appetite for an organization that values the change.

So follow where I’m going with this. This is a values question that allows them to sell to you and, at times, perhaps to criticize your current employer and make themselves look well.  


Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020



Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1800 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

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