A guide for interviewing for and navigating the job market when looking for your next six-figure position.
Before we get into specifics, I encourage you to shift your mindset about this opportunity.
There is no such thing as a “high-stakes” job interview. If you are qualified for one six-figure job, you are qualified for lots of them. Don’t start thinking that everything is riding on this one interview, because it’s not.
If these guys don’t like your brand of jazz, it’s no big deal. Somebody else will love it. If you go into any job interview believing that you simply have to get the job, you will hurt yourself badly. You will contort yourself into pretzel shapes to try to please the interviewer, and that’s the worst thing a job-seeker can do.
A six-figure job interview is a conversation between equals. If it doesn’t feel that way, don’t take the job.
Every job interview should be a conversation between equals, but a lot of hiring managers and HR people are living in the past. They still think that a job interview is a conversation where one party (the interviewer) gets to look down their nose at the other party (the job candidate) and ask them a lot of stupid questions to see how well they “perform.”
A six-figure job interview is an inquiry on both sides of the table. You have a lot of things you need to know about the organization and its issues — or you should. They have a lot of things they need to know about you. A six-figure job seeker is not just competent and qualified to do a bunch of technical and functional things.
They also have a specific point of view about their function.
Your job on the interview is to find out as much as you can about the Business behind the job spec — and then, at the appropriate time, to tell a few Dragon-Slaying Stories that make it clear you’ve solved similar types of challenges before.
Let’s look at an example. Here, Rosalind is interviewing for a position as an Operations Director for a specialty manufacturer. The job pays $105K.
Blake, the VP of Operations: So Rosalind, tell me what you know about our situation.
Rosalind: Sure. Well, I know you’ve grown from a business plan in 2013 to $18M in sales now, which is quite a run. I know you distribute your products through brokers and resellers, and I know you launched an ecommerce site last year. Can I ask you a few questions about that?
Rosalind: The ecommerce site — is that for consumer orders? I saw some bulk pricing for large orders on the site and it made me wonder about channel conflict with your distributors.
Blake: Good catch. Yes, we allow retailers to order through the ecommerce site but we pay a commission to our distributors in that case so there’s no conflict. The site is for consumers and retailers, both.
Rosalind: Where do you see the most growth happening — in traditional retail, online, or somewhere else?
Blake: Great question. Traditional retailing is having its issues as you know, but our products are very tactile. We sell a lot more when people can touch and play with the products whether it’s at demo events, organized sales events like on college campuses, or even via YouTube videos.
Rosalind: I saw some videos on your site. Have those been effective?
Blake: They are extremely effective. One of your priorities as Operations Manager would be to work with me and our Marketing Director to sync up our website and the content we publish on other sites with our ordering process and our marketing initiatives. Right now as you may have noticed, we have a lot of things happening but not a lot of cohesion across platforms. Growing pains!
Rosalind: That’s what I noticed. I wondered if that lack of cohesion might be related to supply chain issues.
Blake: Glad you brought that up. We do have some supply challenges that we’d be looking for you to resolve.
Rosalind: For example the X-15 products, which have such a following —
Blake: And we can’t keep them in stock. That’s a huge priority — to straighten out the supply chain.
Rosalind: So I’m hearing you talk about consistency of messaging and the sales process across platforms, a supply chain issue — what else is on your radar screen?
Blake: Our Operations staff is tremendous but they are inexperienced.
Rosalind: So it’s training the staff, building processes that make sense, maybe building credibility for the Operations function itself….?
Blake: That’s it. Our company is still young. For the first few years, our Operations team basically ordered office supplies and looked after the warehouse. Our CEO’s assistant ordered raw materials, can you believe it? We outsource customer support now. If we can build an effective Operations organization I’ll bring it back in-house.
Rosalind: Shall we talk about customer support, in that case?
Rosalind is asking pithy questions, not to prove that she’s a good little questioner or to kiss Bill’s tush but because she needs the answers. She isn’t sure she wants this job yet, and you cannot go into your six-figure interview positive that you want the job, either!
If you do, the only companies that will hire you are companies that want their employees cowed and docile. You could never grow your flame in a place like that.
Do your research, compose thoughtful questions and keep in mind that only the people who get you deserve you! Ready to find your next great position? Check out our current opportunities now.