You’re essentially going to ask two questions here. One question may get you several answers. And the other may produce a blank stare.
“Fred, at which of your previous jobs did you feel you were underpaid?”
The concept of being underpaid is a fairly easy one for us to understand. We felt we were not adequately compensated for our work.
Perhaps we worked longer hours than what was initially bargained for.
Maybe we felt we worked much harder than our co-workers.
Or maybe we didn’t feel the quality of our work was financially appreciated.
So, when asking an applicant about having been underpaid, go over some of the above possible scenarios, dig in a bit and see what comes up.
After you feel you’ve covered this side of the coin, move forward with this question:
“Okay Fred, that was good to know. Now, at which of your previous jobs did you feel you were overpaid?”
This question might get you a long pause, maybe even a fidget or two.
Be patient and let the candidate come up with an answer.
If Fred doesn’t come up with anything you could ask:
“What would it mean to be overpaid?”
That is not directly connected to Fred and his past, so you should get a fairly good answer here.
Then, ask the earlier question again, with this slight modification:
“Fred, with that in mind, were there any jobs in which you felt you were overpaid?”
Yes, I realize this is a difficult question for many applicants to answer. If the person feels he was overpaid, then that begs the question:
“Well, why didn’t you perform to the level of what you were being paid?”
So, your applicant may feel it’s a “trap question.” But it really isn’t. You’re looking for a glimpse into the integrity level of your applicant.
Fred may say,
“Well, a few years ago, I was working for Company X and they paid me very well. It was a very cushy job and I just kind of glided along, happy to be making a good deal of money.
“When they downsized—and that included me—I wished I had rolled up my sleeves and had been much more productive. I may have been spared the pink slip.
“That was a big lesson for me. From that point on, I stopped gliding and got my act together.”
That’s a refreshing viewpoint, right?
Whatever you do find out with these two questions, I’m pretty certain you’ll get some keen insights into your applicant.
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