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Are You a Risk?

These are going to be the most difficult questions you will be asked.

They're going to encroach on your character, your judgment, and the quality of your decisions, both personally and professionally. Of course, the truth is that everyone is a risk. Everyone who has ever been hired is a risk. The real question imbedded in this subject is, "What kind of risk are you?" And along with that, "Am I, as a hiring authority, willing to run the risk and put my reputation on the line with this person?"

A hiring authority is trying to minimize risk and maximize a return on investment. It's a tradeoff. A hiring authority wants to minimize his or her risk but get as many benefits as possible from hiring someone. The greater the risks you might present, the more they have to be offset by a greater reward. With every risk you present, and you know exactly what they are, you have to offset those risks with the benefits you can provide. The greater the benefits you can demonstrate and the more risks you can mitigate in your being hired, the better chance you have.

Candidates don't recognize the risks that they present to a prospective employer. In fact, many things that you think are a positive might very well be a big liability. Get your coach to help you recognize what the risks are with hiring you. Then, be ready for the questions.

Are You Going to Be a Long-Term Employee or Will You Leave Quickly?

Why do you want to leave where you are? Or, why did you leave your last position?

This is one of the biggest "what kind of a risk are we taking" questions you will be asked. The answer to this question is one that will either immediately end the interviewing process for you or enhance the rest of it. This is one of the most crucial questions that you will be asked in every interview. You better have a consistent reason as to why you are looking to leave or why you left your last position; and, as with many other answers, you will need to stick with it. The key to this answer is to be as non—"self-oriented" as you can make it. The major reason that this is an important answer is that the interviewing or hiring authority will assume, just by the nature of his or her relationship with the employee, that you will leave them somewhere down the line for exactly the same reasons that you are leaving where you are now or for the same reason you left your last position. Employers identify with employers.

Being presently employed and looking to leave when you have been employed by that firm for a relatively long period of time, say five years or more, because you are not growing personally or do not have the opportunity to grow beyond your job is a better reason to be leaving than because, for example, new management was coming in and they didn't really like you. You absolutely have to be truthful in this answer, but you also have to "spin" it so that you communicate a really good business reason for yourself and for a future organization. Now, if you have been caught in a layoff because you were one of the last to be hired, and therefore one of the first to go, there's not much you can do about putting a "spin" on the isolated reason. Even though you were laid off, you can add comments and statements about the job that would make a prospective employer feel really good about you. To ease any concerns, say something like, "I really liked the job and the people. I appreciated their company and the opportunity. Unfortunately, I was simply part of a layoff. They were great people." Again, saying anything negative or disparaging about the company that you are presently with, or are leaving, is not going to do you well. Saying anything negative about the people you were working for or have worked for won't reflect well on you.

If the hiring authority and hiring company have a tremendous amount of "pain" (that is, they really need to hire somebody or are desperate to fill a position), the less likely they are to care about why you are looking to leave or why you left your last employer. So, if you sense that the need to fill a position is great on the part of the hiring company, you don't have to be quite as concerned about how analytical interviewers will be at the answer you give to this question. If an organization is desperate to fill a job, as long as your reasons for leaving your present one are anything short of "Sometimes, I'd just like to strangle my boss," the answer to this question won't matter too much.

However, most organizations that are looking to fill a position are not so desperate that they are not going to very carefully analyze the answer to this question. If you're presently employed, answer along the lines of, "Well, I really love my job, I really like the people who I work with, and I appreciate everything the organization has done for me. However, the organization is in the process of being sold (or under new management or has been contracting for the past few years, etc.) and I am personally stymied in my professional challenge and personal growth. I can stay in the position that I am in, and I am not threatened; but for the next number of years I'm not going to be able to 'grow' beyond the job I'm in now. Since my growth is limited, both personally and professionally, everything else, including my earnings, will stagnate. I owe it to myself and my family to seek a new opportunity where I can grow and be challenged beyond the opportunity that I have now."

Whatever you do, you have to communicate that you like your present job, the present organization that you work with, etc., and that you are leaving simply because you are capable of doing more for an organization and therefore growing both personally and professionally. If you communicate self-oriented answers like, "I need more money," "I want a better title," or "I'm going nowhere in my present firm," you'll be dead in the water.

Another way to approach this is to center your answer around the position for which you are interviewing. Something like, "I really love the company that I work for, and I have done well by them. They have been very good to me and I really appreciate that. But in the position I am in now, I am not as challenged, nor can I contribute as much as I could in the position we're discussing here at your firm. This particular position that I'm interviewing for will give me the opportunity to_, as well as really contribute to the growth of your organization. I'm just not able to do that where I am now. It isn't anybody's fault. It's the nature of what we do and the size of our organization."

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