Nailing Job Interviews - Transcript


0:00 - New Feature Announcement
1:31 - Discussing Job Interviews
3:50 - Building Credibility in Interviews
6:36 - Discretion in Job Search
7:18 - Value-Add Preparation
7:51 - Success in Job Interviews
12:44 - Strategies for Discussing Salary
15:09 - Experience vs. Ability to Learn
17:43 - Entrepreneurial Mindset in Work
20:54 - Thriving as an Entrepreneurial Employee

Long Summary

In this episode, we dive deep into job interviews. Drawing from vast experience interviewing and hiring candidates, I share valuable insights on how to approach job interviews tactfully. I emphasize the critical aspect of how you present yourself during the interview and the importance of building credibility with the interviewer. I talk about the pitfalls of playing the victim card about previous work experiences and how it can impact your chances of landing the job.

Moving on to discussing salary negotiations, I stress the significance of industry knowledge and the value you bring to the table. Documenting and quantifying the impact you've made in your current role can be a powerful negotiating tool. I recount a scenario where advocating for my team led to a significant increase in their salaries, showcasing the importance of understanding industry standards.

Additionally, I touch on the concept of continuous learning and adaptability in job roles. I highlight that hiring individuals who have the capacity to learn can be more beneficial in the long run compared to hiring someone with fixed experience. Documenting your learning curve and progress can be essential in showcasing your growth potential to prospective employers.

Furthermore, I discuss the entrepreneurial mindset and how it can positively influence your approach to any job. Treating each job as a contractor who must prove their value consistently and documenting the value you bring can set you apart in the workforce. The episode concludes by underscoring the importance of fostering a mindset of continual growth and learning, ultimately preparing you for future entrepreneurial endeavors.


[0:00] New Feature Announcement

[0:00] Yo, it's Steph. Hope you're doing well. Just wanted to let you know there's a new feature or benefit or perk or bonus that's coming out for donors to support us. And you can join, of course, at or you can join at slash freedomain.

[0:18] And what we're doing is live call-in chat shows maybe once or twice a week just for donors so this is something that i did just for donors i'm just throwing it out here so you can get a sense of the kind of goodies that are up there if you support the show in this way which i hope that you do and i hope to see you at the next one free or free domain here we go so i'm going to start with something that i think is is interesting interesting, hopefully valuable.

[0:48] Job interviews. Now, it's actually one of my first semi-viral videos was about job interviews. And the reason that you should listen to me about job interviews is obviously I have been interviewed a whole bunch of times, but I've probably interviewed well over a thousand people and hired a hundred people or more over the course of my career, which is pretty good. That's pretty rare, pretty good. But this is in particular, of course, I mean, a bunch of people have worked for free domain until I burn them out like matches, Lucifer matches, but my software, when I was chief technical officer in a software company, I co-founded a lot of interviews and all of that. So I wanted to give you some tips and thoughts, keep this relatively brief if there's things that you want to talk about elsewise.

[1:31] Discussing Job Interviews

[1:32] So we'll just do this. But okay, so these are things that I was sort of looking for, because people have a big big challenge when it comes to why are you there? Like, what are you saying about your old job, right? So, if you say bad things about your old job, that's a challenge. I was always kind of on the lookout for that.

[1:54] And the thing is, though, because if you want to explain why something went wrong in your old job, you're going to have to provide so much context, and the person is going going to have to trust you that you are you know not at fault that you just had a bad boss and then you know well why did you not know that you had a bad boss before you worked there you say oh well you know the bad boss was just moved in over me and so on okay but but it's kind of tough because, i'll just tell you this from my standpoint i think this is probably true as a whole but from my standpoint when i hear someone say i was a victim it wasn't my fault in some some relationship thing.

[2:36] I don't believe them. Now, I don't disbelieve them, but I don't believe them. Now, there are a few treasured people in my life who, you know, some in fact on the call. The few treasured people in my life, if they say it was somebody else's fault, I'm like, yep, okay, I'm down for that, right? I believe that, I accept that. But for most people, they're selling you a narrative about how things went wrong, and it's just not their fault.

[3:03] They're innocent victims. They tried their very best, but just bad people had control and ruined their lives or made their lives difficult or messed up with their career. So what you're doing, unfortunately, if you bring this kind of stuff to a job interview, what you're doing is you are making the assumption that the relationship with the job interviewer is something other than what it is. In other words, you're asking for credibility when you've just met someone, right? So again, if you've known someone for a long time, they're legit, they're honest, they tell the truth, and they do their best, and they have credibility with you, then if they say, you know, someone just had a bad relationship with someone or my boss was difficult, then in general, you probably believe them because you've known them for a long time, you have that credibility.

[3:50] Building Credibility in Interviews

[3:51] But in a job interview, just remember, you have no credibility because they just met you. So if you start talking about things which would require the interviewer to trust them in other words i had a bad boss or it was bad company or bad environment or bad clients and it wasn't my fault at all then you're asking for the job interviewer to trust you when he doesn't even know you and that shows poor judgment and if you're trying to say i had i have put like you're demonstrating poor judgment by asking the some boss to take sides oh the company was corrupt or or they treated their employees really badly, or whatever it is. It's like, well, maybe you were just a bad employee, right? So don't assume trust in a new relationship. Don't assume you have any credibility in a new relationship. Maybe it's a little different if somebody's listened to my show for 10 years and they do a call, and maybe I have some credibility there.

[4:42] But never assume trust in a new relationship. And this is a funny thing, too. This isn't just in job interviews, of course. You see this happening all the time where, you know, know, some woman on a date will spill the beans about her last boyfriend or, you know, how many antidepressants she's on. I mean, I remember being on a date, I said this sort of some time ago, I remember being on a date with a woman and she told me that her boyfriend had left her with $17,000 in debt and she was sort of railing about her boyfriend and it's like, but we just met. So we don't, you don't have any credibility with me.

[5:22] And, of course, if you blame other people for voluntary relationships, your judgment looks suspect. So when you're in a job interview, you know, how is you, you know, what was going on at your last job or what's going on at the job? Why are you looking and so on? Say, well, I'm looking to get to the next step in my career, and I think I can do that. Well, that's a tough thing, because if you say, I'm looking for the next step in my career, but I'm going to do it laterally, then people will be concerned that you used that, right? Right. Because, I mean, everybody knows you're not too satisfied with the job if you're looking for a new one. And so trying to explain that why is a challenge. Right. So I'm looking for a new challenge. I'm looking to move on. I'm looking to move. I want more responsibility, whatever it is. Right. And then, of course, but then the question is, you know, why are you being given more responsibility in your current job? That kind of stuff. Right. So I think there is a general understanding, understanding just based upon being in a job interview that you're looking for a new job because you're dissatisfied with something in your current job and just try and keep whatever dissatisfaction you have do your very best to try and keep them to a minimum and just say i'm looking to move on i'm i'm looking to acquire a different different set of skills and whatever it is right and all of that so i think that's because whenever you're going for a job interview.

[6:36] Discretion in Job Search

[6:37] One thing that the interviewer knows for sure is that you can't get what you want in your current position right so if you're looking like if you're a really valuable employee and you wanted to get more into sales and marketing from tech they'd know that your current employer won't accommodate that so then the question is why because like really good really good employees bosses like smart bosses will try to accommodate whatever really good employees want to do so if you're really good programmer and you want to get into sales and marketing and you're really you know a great employee and so on then your boss will try and facilitate that as much as possible so, yeah looking for something different looking to move up looking to move on just keep it to a minimum as much as possible, and that way also discreet. Knowing that you can be discreet is really, really important.

[7:18] Value-Add Preparation

[7:19] Now, the other thing that I would recommend in job interviews is come prepared with your value-add. So a lot of people, this is particularly true in the tech world, will say, I know this code, I know that code, I've experience with this and that, and so on. And, you know, that's all fine, but that's kind of why you're in the room to begin with. That's kind of have already known. What you want to do, I think, to have your best chance at a successful job interview. Now, a successful job interview is not where you get the job. That's sort of important to recognize.

[7:51] Success in Job Interviews

[7:51] A successful job interview is where you get a job at a place you want to work.

[7:56] And you want to have a business-competent manager. So a manager who understands profit and loss, a manager who understands that you need to get 2 to 3x productivity out of your employees in order to justify hiring them because, like, more than their salary, because a variety of, you know, obviously overhead and taxes and computers and maybe some travel budget and expenses and office space. There's a lot that you need to spend. And just the risk, because there's going to be some turnover, right? it. So to get a job at the place you want to work, your manager has to be business competent. Because if he's not, in other words, he has to understand the profit and loss and all of that. Because if he's not business competent, then his decisions won't be driven by profit, they will be driven by politics. And if you've ever had a boss who's into politics, it's a really crazy making situation that you really don't want to be in as a whole. So if you're talking about your value your value isn't the bag full of acronyms of things that you know i know sql i know java and that's all good right but what you want to do is you want to say, here's the money i made for the last place right so you know i i i came up with this automated process that saved x amount of hours per week of some guy who was you know 100 bucks an hour right So, say, five hours a week from some guy who was $100 an hour, so it's $500 a week that I saved.

[9:24] That's a lot, right? I mean, that's some good stuff, right? That's some good stuff. That's, what, $24,000 a month or $25,000 a month? A year, sorry, a year, $25,000 a year. So, you know, so just with that one thing, I covered a third of my salary. Let's say you make 75K. So I spent a certain amount of time and I saved a third of my salary. And then they did this other thing, which covered even more of my salary. And I automated this process and I was faster than this guy. And so you want to show...

[9:53] The business value that you provide and that's in order to filter out managers who work on politics not profit because you don't want to work for those guys in my opinion that's that's pretty pretty wretched so make sure you come in it doesn't have to be a pure spreadsheet but you've got to come in with with your your value add right the the business value add the monetary value add here's how i made money for my last employer so that's again now you get the question about out weaknesses and you know of course this is all you know i'm too much of a perfectionist i i tend to get over involved in my projects like all stuff that's obviously managers know that's just basic suck up stuff so uh weaknesses i i generally i would be pretty honest with my weaknesses oh you know i would go sometimes on for 10 minutes about the things that i know that i'm not great at and with you give your weaknesses you want to give your weaknesses and your workarounds right you want to give your weaknesses and your workarounds right so you can say that.

[10:58] You know i tend to be not quite as detail oriented as i need to be and so i create a spreadsheet of all the details i need to remember or i'm i i've cross checked my work with someone who couldn't see the big picture so i bring the big picture to my worker my work companion who wasn't into the big picture he'd bring the details to me and we'd both end up stronger you know wonder to want the twins powers activated or something like that so whenever you talk about your weaknesses i think it's important to be honest about that stuff but when you know a weakness is incumbent upon you to solve it or to have some way to to solve it and i think that's really important as well.

[11:34] Now, when it comes to salary, right? I mean, you've seen that meme, I'm sure. It's like two gunslingers in the Wild West.

[11:44] And, you know, one guy is saying, well, what does the job pay? And the other guy is saying, well, what are you currently making? Right? They just don't want to, right? Right. So in my opinion, and I went through this whole process at one of the companies I worked with where my tech lead came to me and said that, you know, they'd all been sitting down and talking with their friends and they felt underpaid as a whole. Right. They felt underpaid relative to what their colleagues were making in similar fields with similar amounts of experience and so on. On so i ordered a salary review and ended up interviewing a bunch of people outside the company to get a sense of salaries talk to my friends who were also managers how much you're paying people for this that and the other and i did end up making the case i got about a million dollars extra per year for my tech team in terms of payroll which was you know so when people are like you gotta get help the underprivileged so to speak or you help the people poorer than yourself well you know i've actually done that kind of stuff and of course the nice thing was that that if they moved on, they had that salary at the base to start working with.

[12:44] Strategies for Discussing Salary

[12:44] So I think if you want to talk about, if the salary comes up in a job interview.

[12:51] Again, my sort of personal opinion, what I would most respect is somebody who had industry knowledge rather than, here's my salary, what does the job make? Right, so say, well, you know, my research and what I've talked about with colleagues and so on, that the industry average for this job with this amount of experience, with these kinds of responsibilities tends to be in this range, right? And, of course, it depends exactly where you live and the different postal zip codes are more expensive, more costly than others. So...

[13:18] Talking about industry standards and industry ranges is the way to go. And then, of course, you know, you want to be honest. And of course, if you've made the case, you know, at the last place, they made me, they paid me $80,000 a year, but I saved them over $300,000 because of X, Y, and Z. And you want to keep track of this in your job, right? You want to keep track of the value add that you have brought to, like, when you're doing projects, right? Keep some notes, you know, here's how much time I spent. meant. It costs the company this much. Here's how much I saved. And here's the, you know, I'm not saying you necessarily keep all the source files and data, right? But you'd want to have confidently be able to say, here's what I made. So you want to keep track of the value that you're adding in your current job. And that's two benefits, right? Well, three, I guess one is just confidence. The second is when you go for a raise, you can say to your boss, look, I saved the company X amount of bucks.

[14:11] So I deserve a raise, right? And here's my documentation for it. And then of course, if you are going for other jobs having that kind of data available is really good and then you can confidently say okay here's the average industry averages you know between 60 and 90 000 for this kind of for my kind of job but i also i really do keep track of what makes the company money like if you show a boss that you have a business mindset he's going to be way more comfortable in in hiring you right so the very fact that you've kept track of the value that you've added added to the last company, makes you a lot more valuable to the new company. And a lot of people just get down into the weeds and do their job and do their work and they just do what they're told and kind of reactive and they're not thinking about the business as a whole. So I would definitely keep track of that. So you can say, you know, here's the range for this kind of position. I think I should be at the upper end of the range or maybe even above it because X, Y, and Z, right?

[15:09] Experience vs. Ability to Learn

[15:09] Like I've done all of this value and so on, right? Right, so now what about if you get called into a job and you don't have the experience they're looking for? So to me, there was only one ever, only one ever good answer for that, which is if you hire someone who can really learn, they will never, ever be short of experience.

[15:35] If you hire someone who can really learn, because things in tech are always changing, right? So if you get someone who matches exactly what you want right now, but they don't have much of a flexible ability to learn, then when the technology changes, they'll be left adrift.

[15:50] They'll get stuck right i don't know this but i also when i first started other things i didn't know and keep track of the things you're learning on your job again if you keep track of the progress and value that you add and the things you learn in your current job it'll be easier to make the case you say look i didn't know php and then i learned it and produced this and i didn't know my sequel and i learned it and produced this and i didn't know javascript and i learned it and produce this so you can and this is a choice that managers have to make right do you choose someone who's got the right skills for now and hope that they can learn more in the future or do you choose someone who's good at learning and therefore will continue to progress no matter as the technology inevitably changes no matter what are you nimble right are you nimble are you a ninja can you right so when it comes to experience i think as long as you have and don't just say stuff like i'd say say, show it. And showing it means that you simply have it documented. You don't have to hand over the documentation, of course, but you can wave it around and read from it or say, here's how I know this. Like, I'm not just making this up. I actually know this, right? Like, how many lines of code are you able to get done in a week? You should document that and you should keep track of that so that you know that. And then you can know that it has improved. Well, you know, when I first started, I got 100 lines of code done a week and then it went up to 500 and then it went up to 1,000. So So at this rate, I'll be able to code Windows NT in the long weekend. So I would think it's fine.

[17:18] Just focus on your ability to learn and have everything documented.

[17:21] Again, you don't have to hand over the documentation, but...

[17:25] But you need to know it for yourself, because that's going to have some real, it's going to be a real confident builder. And you want, I think you want a boss who's got some thought of an entrepreneurial mindset, because otherwise he's going to put you in a little cubicle and in a little intellectual box that you won't be able to leave, which I would imagine for this audience is kind of painful.

[17:43] Entrepreneurial Mindset in Work

[17:44] So in all of my jobs, I tried really to think as an entrepreneur. And this is obviously before I was an entrepreneur. So even when I was a waiter, I viewed myself in an entrepreneurial light, even as a waiter. Because as a waiter, you are kind of an entrepreneur because you're working for tips. And so the more value add that you can bring, the better, right? So obviously, if there was a guy coming in who was obviously on a date with a girl, I would defer to the guy and all of that. And that way he would seem higher status and that would be a value add that I could provide as a waiter. I, of course, wanted the bill to be higher. So I learned how to describe the, one of the places I worked, the dessert was a profiterole, which is like this amazing pastry and ice cream and chocolate sauce. And it's just an amazing, like a vertical tower of diabetes. But I learned how to describe that in a way that almost everyone would order it.

[18:50] And so, yeah, learning how to upsell because the more I can sell, the better it is for the restaurant and then the better it is for my tip and so on. Want right so and there's a certain kind of authoritarian deferment which is where you are an authority and then you defer to in particular the man on the date so because they don't care if you defer to them and you don't have any authority so to be an authority about the restaurant and the food and so on it was a high-end seafood restaurant to know everything to you know and then to defer to be high status and then to defer is is really great so even as a Of course, I had a newspaper route when I was 12 or so, and I was entrepreneurial in that way, in that I could always go and try and get more people to subscribe to the newspaper, which upped my income and so on. So in every job, imagine that you're a contractor who could be fired at any time and has to prove his value. And if you take that approach and you document the value that you are providing, you are going to be ahead of like literally 97, 98% of the employees out there who tend to be kind of.

[19:55] Reactive to that kind of environment so but entrepreneurial you can just claim to making claims without evidence is not particularly reassuring to bosses but if you make a claim oh i made money oh i learned this and i advanced that and i learned how to i didn't have entered my last job with this skill but i then became an expert at it and i'm willing to work weekends and i love to learn and like i'm willing to study weekends and i love to learn and all of that and being a hobbyist also i mean i know this more in the tech realm if you are a hobbyist in other other words if you if you loved computers from the very beginning and you did it all for free i would always hire hobbyists over even very well educated people because i found that the hobbyists i remember i hired one guy at a phd in computer science he was terrible terrible i hired another guy who'd never taken any education in computers who was fantastic because he was just a hobbyist who loved it so but again everything should be documented and if you take every job and every job interview, as if you're an entrepreneur rather than an employee, you'll get the right kind of boss.

[20:54] Thriving as an Entrepreneurial Employee

[20:55] And I think you'll get the right kind of environment. And that I think is going to be the most satisfying. And of course, as you practice and hone your entrepreneurial skills within an employee environment, then when it comes to be an entrepreneur, if you want to do that, and I'm sure you at least want to give it a try, if you get the opportunity, you'll be ready. You'll be ready to do the entrepreneurial stuff, which I think will be massively beneficial.

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