It's no secret that job seekers must satisfy three requirements to land a job:
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They can do the job.
They will do the job.
They will fit in.
These three requirements have been well known for years. They are the foundation of a complete candidate.
But there's also a fourth piece to the puzzle. It is often overlooked, but some companies place more importance on it than any of the other requirements. This fourth requirement is the cause of much consternation for many a job seeker. Can you guess what it is?
Let's take a look at these three requirements every candidate must satisfy – and the mysterious fourth one as well:
1. Can You Do the Job?
Of course, no interviewers will ask the question so directly. Rather, they'll pose more indirect questions, like:
- "What skills and experience do you see being necessary to do the job?"
- "Tell me about a time when you handled problem X."
- "What kind of experience do you have in the area of Y?"
And you should always be prepared to answer the "Tell me about yourself" question.
For many employers, this is the most important requirement for any potential employee to meet – but the following three cannot be overlooked. Having the technical know-how is essential to performing the job and advancing in your career, but there are other qualities employers look for as well.
2. Will You Do the job?
Employers want to know how motivated you are. They'll want to know if you'll enjoy the responsibilities and support the mission of the organization. Will you work until the job is finished?
You may have to field a question like, "Why do you want to work for this company?" Think about it: Would you, as an employer, want to hire someone who isn't totally into working for your company? Probably not.
How can you prove your desire to take on the responsibilities of the position or work for the company? Stories using the situation-task-action-result (STAR) formula are a great way to demonstrate your motivation and passion for the job.
3. Will You Fit?
Showing that you'll be a good fit is tough to do, but it's a concern many employers have. It's all about your personality. They don't want to hire someone who won't get along with coworkers.
In this area, you're likely to face behavioral questions, such as, "Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an irate colleague."
To some employers, your cultural fit will be even more important than your technical skills. Technical skills can be learned, but it can be difficult – if not impossible – to learn new personality traits.
Can you train someone to become more sensitive? What about teaching a talkative person to become a listener? Can you improve the attitude of someone who has difficulty interacting with other departments? The answer to all these questions is probably "no."
4. The Final Requirement: Are You Affordable?
As stated above, some employers stress this requirement even more than the others – especially when landing a candidate who costs less is a priority. Sure, a candidate who meets the other three requirements would be ideal, but not always necessary.
During an interview, the first question out of the recruiter's mouth might be related to salary: "What do you expect for salary?" or "What did you make at your last company?" These salary questions could come during the phone or in-person interview, so make sure you're prepared to answer in a way that doesn't cause you to lose out on the salary you deserve.
Don't be surprised if you're out of this employer's price range – it can happen.
Salary negotiation makes some people's skin crawl because they see it as a confrontation. In fact, it's a straightforward affair. Companies don't want to pay you too little because it can lead to resentment. However, this is business, so employers aren't going to give away the farm, either.
Being able to address the three most obvious concerns employers have is what gets you to the fourth concern – can they afford you? If you do a great job meeting the first three requirements, the last one should go smoothly – as long as you're reasonable.
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center.