Of all the interview questions job applicants prepare for, the most obvious ones sometimes get the least attention and often times result in a rejection before you’re even out of the blocks, to use a rather corny sports analogy 😉
You came ready to share some development insights, your greatest strength, and a moment when you shined, but what do you do with a broad but direct question like “Why do you want to work here?
Like a similarly problematic interview question — “Tell me about yourself” — “Why do you want to work here?” requires you to focus on a specific answer without any clues, contexts, or prompting from the interviewer.
It’s a blank space, but that doesn’t mean you can wing it and fill it with just anything.
Drawing from my 17 years of experience as an executive recruiter and executive coach, as well as someone who’s sat on both sides of the interview table many times, I recommend three basic approaches:
💡 Express your personal passion for the employer’s product/service/mission
💡 Explain why you would enjoy the responsibilities of the role.
💡 Describe how you can see yourself succeeding in the role, given your skills and experience.
You can use any combination of these three approaches so long as you keep your answer concise!
Tip: Be Specific
As you develop your answer, understand that the more specific you are, the more powerfully your answer will resonate. Conversely, the vaguer you are, the more generic the response will seem.
DO YOU THINK IT IS APPROPRIATE TO PUT SENIOR GM/EGM LEVEL STRATEGY CANDIDATES THROUGH CASE STUDY INTERVIEWS?
I guess I’m not too surprised by the latest poll results asking whether the consulting community (and alumni therefrom) think or feel it appropriate to be testing senior strategy talent at the GM or even EGM level with a case study style interview.
The results are almost split down the middle
✅ 37% of you said ABSOLUTELY, no questions asked!
✅ 36% of you completely disagreed and felt leadership skills and capabilities are much more important at that level. AND…
✅ 27% felt it depended on the role complexity.
Whilst the optimal answer isn’t apparent or clear, perhaps what we can take away from this poll result is as follows:
♠ Some form of assessment of problem solving ability and strategic toolkit is definitely needed. Perhaps what that looks like and how it’s applied is up for interpretation.
Whether it’s a typical consulting style case study, a presentation to a panel of interviewers on a business problem or a mere deep dive on past experience around the application of problem solving is clearly required.
♥ Demonstrated leadership skills and capability are just as important as the strategic skills and capabilities, so make sure you aren’t over-indexing on just the problem solving and toolkit parts in your career development plans.
As one progresses, its the leadership piece thats likely to trip you up OR be the differentiator between two similar candidates strong on the toolkit.
If you haven’t invested equally in this capability as you climb the corporate or consulting ladders, you might find it more difficult to land the bigger roles down the track.
♦ Many of you felt role complexity is a key determinant of whether a case style interview is required. The perception here is that if a role is really complex, then having the mental agility, horsepower and problem solving ability would be of paramount importance.
Well, in my experience, at this level, there are multi intelligences at play that ultimately lead to role success. Most roles in Enterprise clients (global multi-nationals and ASX) at this level are inherently complex at both the job and organisational level and problem solving isn’t merely applied to the business problem itself. It can oftentimes be more human centred and about aligning and influencing senior stakeholders which is a key skill within itself.
So, I can’t help but wonder if complexity is just a given at this level!
Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section, I’d be keen to keep the dialogue going.
This can be a tricky topic and one that we are experts at helping you navigate.
It’s really important to be open and transparent about your salary expectations from the get-go and on the flip side, we are always very open about our clients’ budget and salary for the role to ensure this is in line with your expectations before starting an interview process.
There are, of course, times when you might want to try and negotiate the salary you have been offered.
And when is the right time to do that?
When you are given a verbal offer and prior to accepting the verbal offer, if you would like to try and negotiate, now is the time.
✅ DO be fully transparent about your salary expectations
✅ DO understand that clients have budgets and salary ranges approved for roles
✅ DO appreciate that some budgets have no room to increase and this isn’t a reflection on a clients desire to hire you
✅ DO know that for every client that increases a salary, there are as many that won’t and will keep to their original offer
✅ DO know that we are specialists at negotiating salaries and we have the latest up to date market information on what salary levels are being achieved in the market
❌ DON’T verbally accept and then try and negotiate a higher salary
❌ DON’T sign a contract and then try and negotiate a higher salary
❌ DON’T miss out on an incredible career opportunity over $$
Negotiating isn’t in everyone’s comfort zone and we are here to help support you on your journey to finding your next career opportunity.
If you are a Management Consultant or ex Management Consultant and would like to find out more about strategy opportunities we are currently recruiting, please see our website for our live roles (linked in the comments).
We know this seems like an obvious point however you’ll be surprised at how many of us think we’re bringing sufficient energy only to find the interviewer hasn’t felt the same way. This is because we all have our own subjective version of how we apply it.
So how do we know if we’ve brought sufficient energy to the interview? The answer is very simple, feedback! If you are consistently receiving this feedback, you may have a blind spot or a perception problem to work on. Either way, if you want to progress your career, it’s worth investing in through coaching services or working on making a better impression during such moments.
In a job interview:
✅ A vibrant and engaged demeanour fosters a sense of camaraderie with interviewers. ✅ A genuine and positive energy can transform a standard interview into a memorable one that sets you apart from other candidates. ✅ Demonstrating positive energy and enthusiasm showcases your interest in the role and company. ✅ By bringing an energetic attitude, you project confidence in your abilities and an ability to thrive in a fast-paced work environment.
Employers are seeking candidates who can bring an enthusiastic and dynamic presence to their teams and stakeholders, as it often translates to increased productivity and better workplace morale.
HOW IMPORTANT IS ENERGY, PASSION AND CHARISMA IN A JOB INTERVIEW?
Energy, passion, and charisma can be very important in a job interview because they can help you make a strong impression on the interviewer and demonstrate your enthusiasm and engagement for the job.
▶ Energy can show that you are excited and motivated about the job and can bring a positive attitude to the workplace.
▶ Passion can demonstrate that you have a strong interest in the job and the industry, which can be perceived to translate to a greater level of commitment and dedication on the job.
▶ Charisma can help you connect with the interviewer and build rapport, which can help you stand out from other candidates who may have similar qualifications and experience.
However, it is important to note that energy, passion, and charisma alone may not be enough to secure a job offer. You still need to have the necessary skills, qualifications, and experience to perform the job duties effectively.
In addition, being overly enthusiastic or charismatic can sometimes come across as insincere or disingenuous, so it’s important to strike a balance and be authentic in your interview.
Overall though energy, passion, and charisma can be valuable assets in any job interview. They should however be complemented by a strong resume, relevant experience, and thoughtful responses to interview questions (achieved through interview preparation) in order to come across as sincere, genuine and credible.
This is something I have been reflecting on the past few months because I have seen both ends of the spectrum. I have observed a highly charismatic candidate absolutely blow my client away with their energy, passion and charisma and let me tell you its a very powerful combination. That said, they are very credible in their space and with deep experience too. So my takeaway is that if you are credible and have deep experience in a function or industry, then bringing energy, passion and charisma will 100% differentiate you from the pack and create massive competitive advantage!
Speaking to candidates, as I work in an Australia Recruitment Agency, in the last week has been an eye-opener for me!
It’s been over 3 months since Asha went on mat leave. Due to excessive amounts of caffeine I’m enjoying taking on her work and doing my best not to let her down!
Recently, I’ve been mostly working with senior candidates. So head-hunting less tenured candidates again has been interesting, especially in this market.
Senior strategy folks tend to be open-minded about the opportunities a specific role could bring them and curious about the broader market in general.
They see the value we bring long-term and build a relationship with us as that one role could change their lives.
They’re interested in the content of the roles, who they’ll be working with, what career options lie beyond the role and senior exposure available. All very important stuff to know!
Only then we have a conversation about salary.
By this time, we may have identified through the conversation, that this one role we had in mind may not meet their needs however we may have 3 others that do.
All of this can take as little as 15mins (caffeine dependant).
What’s surprised me in the last week is the number of more junior candidates who have responded to my approach with “how much will they pay me?”
Just that! 😲
This has really shocked me.
Whilst I understand the current economy means we all need to ensure we are being paid our worth, the lack of interest in the nuances of a role or more importantly the market holistically was concerning.
As experts in this space we;
a/ Know what market rates are
b/ Educate clients who are not aware of market rates to lift their bandings or lower expectations
c/ Don’t take on roles our candidates will not be interested in or who can’t pay market rates
d/Have a plethora of interesting roles at any given time, we just need to understand what “a good opportunity” means to you
With the market being talent short, you’ll always find companies that want to throw money at the problem if they cannot attract quality candidates at market rates.
I’d suggest you ask yourself why that may be.
I’ve spent hours speaking to strategy execs whilst recording the Strategy Bites podcasts, all of them point to reasons you should consider taking a role.
None have said they made any move for money!
The podcast I did with Joshua T. VP of Strategy PepsiCo a few weeks ago echos this, he says “slow down and ensure you enjoy the journey!”
This is the reason we started doing the podcasts, so less experienced consultants can get advice from senior leaders on how they should be thinking about their careers and the opportunities they are presented with.
We’re not here to push you into one role, but to give you options based on what makes you tick, and what is best for your long-term career.
Please, think beyond “what are they paying” and have a holistic conversation about you and your needs.
The firm that will pay you the most isn’t always going to value you the most!