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EP 1694 This is a question is one that tends not to be asked but lurks beneath the surface like a smelly turd and has to be addressed.

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I want to deal with one of those questions that are not asked, but below the surface, especially for many of you senior professionals who are interviewing for a job to step down from where you were.

Most managers, most senior leaders will not have the courage to ask the question, but you’ve got to know it's there.

Will you be out to take my job?

Let's consider it a question out of paranoia. They're just fearful, for whatever the reason is, that you are going to be gunning for them if they hire you. After all, you have been in their seat before, why would you take a step down? That's really the scenario that they are trying to address in their mind.

So, for the veteran individual enriched will tend to be an older worker, a senior leader, who is interviewing a role, that isn't as high as they were before, this is a question that isn't going to be asked but it's there. I'll simply say there is a way to address it.

The way to do it is, at a certain point of the interview where maybe things are wrapping up or there is a obvious segue into this subject, you have to take the bull by the horns because they're not going to ask. At the right time (and you know what that is. You're not a beginner. You’re a veteran individual and you got perception and sensitivity. So, I’m going to trust you to recognize that moment which, like I said to be the very end of the interview) . . . Let me deal with that scenario. At the very end of the interview, if it hasn't afforded itself an opportunity for you to step in, you have to step in before you leave, before the phone interview or video interview ends.

When they say, “is there anything else,” or something along the lines, indicating that the conversations is about to end, you have to step in and say, “I don't know if this is you. It probably isn't. But I want to be clear, just in case you have a concern. I'm at a stage in my career were I'm not looking for your job. I'd be happy to be your lieutenant. I'd be happy to be someone who helps you in your job, as a person reporting to you. I am not going to buck for your job. What I'm here to do is to perform the work that you think I can best perform for the organization to the best of my ability.

“Like I said, I'm not gunning for your job. I want to be the best I can be in this role. Because, frankly, I'm a stage in my career were not aspiring to the top spot. That's not for me right now.

“What I’m looking for is an opportunity to perform you.” You have to language in your way. That's the basic theme that you trying to communicate and in doing so, if they're insecure you'll never be able to overcome it.

But if they aren't insecure, they may probe a little bit more and go, “Why?” .

“I’ve put in a lot of blood and guts in organizations.” You use the language the way that you want.

“I'm at the stage now where I'm not trying to go for the top seat. I just want to be in a situation where I can do a great job, help an organization grow . . . You know the rest of the speech.


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 1600 episodes and “The No BS Coaching Advice Podcast” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was named a Top 10 podcast for job search. is also a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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

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