You’re reading an excerpt of Ask Me This Instead: Flip the Interview to Land Your Dream Job, a book by Kendra Haberkorn. This powerful work is written by a veteran recruiter for job-seekers who want to find their dream job—not just the next job. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, worksheets and a question database, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

Get Ready to Run

So how do you know if you’ve found the “one”—the job that’s right for you, right now? You should answer one of my favorite questions to ask candidates for yourself. I like to close final round interviews by asking, “What would make you run toward this opportunity with enthusiasm and what would make you run away?

I give this advice because, though I have asked this exact question dozens of times to others, I didn’t ask it to myself a few years ago. While working long hours in a demanding job, I found myself daydreaming about quitting during the day and casually scrolling through job postings or venting about my job to friends in the evenings. Though I couldn’t see it and truly didn’t realize it, I was already running away. So, when a compelling opportunity with awesome people came up, I took it. It was, objectively, a great job, but it wasn’t the right job for me. Had I taken the time to evaluate my priorities, explore what options were out there—and crucially, had I asked better questions of my interviewers—I could have saved myself and a team I cared about a lot of time, effort and… emotional turmoil. Look, this type of thing happens, and it’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, but the work and approach outlined in this book can save you and others from having to have the same experience I had.

It is best to intentionally move toward a new role rather than leave a job for any role other than your current position. As an interviewer, the “run toward” question gave me some of the best clues and cues about what mattered to the candidate, where their mind was, and what our risks were if we wanted to hire them and bring them onto the team. I knew it was getting at something when I started to see how people reacted to the question. It often made them sit back, smile, and genuinely reflect before they answered.

So think about a job you are interviewing for.

Are you running toward this role? Here are some of the most telling signals:

  • You start telling everyone about the company, the role, the people.

  • You start using “we” as if you’re already part of the team.

  • You think about it non-stop, ideas or reflections pop into your mind at unexpected times.

  • You start to “do” the work—the questions and problems you’ve learned about are so interesting that, in your spare time, you begin to research and dig into them to try to solve them.

  • Your gut is telling you that these are your people, this company represents your purpose and this product is the one you want to support.

  • You realize that if you were to sit down and craft your dream job, it’d look a lot like this one.

Or, are you running away? These might be indicators that you should explore other paths:

  • Your conversations leave you with more questions than answers.

  • You get an odd feeling about interactions with members of the team—nothing specific but something’s still off.

  • You get the impression that what the job description or careers site promised is more fiction than truth.

  • You are experiencing stress or anxiety even if the process has positive momentum.

  • You cry ugly, not happy, tears when you get an offer and don’t know what to do (not that this has ever happened to me…)

  • You are bored and uninspired during interviews and forget about them the minute you walk out the door.

  • You’d be “OK” if it didn’t work out.

Finding your place is as much about eliminating the options that won’t fulfill your expectations and aspirations as it is about locking in on the ones with the most potential. Going into such a major decision with eyes wide open provides the greatest odds of a beneficial experience and outcome for everyone involved, especially you!

This book is for you. Where are you running to?

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