There is a hard corner you turn during the job interview process, that divides all time into two parts:

Before an offer
After an offer

How you act in each stage directly impacts how soon you might be able to turn that corner – as well as how successful you might negotiate once you do.

In many of my previous articles, I discuss the importance of focusing on your contacts and prospect companies as you continue to network. It’s crucial. In order to encourage those around you to aid your transition, your focus must be on them, along with the following mantra. Say it with me now…

“I have no problems.”
“I cause no problems.”
“I’m only here to solve your problems.”

Let’s put these mantras into a conversational context…

During an interview, you’re asked, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Common answer: “Well, I would really like to be leading a team of at least 5 people within an organization that is growing and changing quickly.”

Who is this answer really about: the future employer or the person being interviewed? If you guessed the latter, you are correct. It speaks specifically to what you alone want – a red flag. There’s a better way to approach this:

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Better answer: “Right here with you of course! I see myself growing within this organization by helping the company succeed in whatever way possible.” Yes, this reply is generic. In reality, your response would have more specific details, but you get the idea.

Here’s the difference between these two answers: The first puts an expectation on the company to deliver what you want. If that role won’t grow to lead 5 people, the common answer eliminates you. If that company won’t grow or change quickly – again, you’re eliminated.

Ambition is only good when delivered in the right context. The better answer demonstrates that you’re there to solve their problems. The more you drill this point home, the more attractive you are as a candidate.

Fast forward and look at that – you interviewed well and received a job offer! Fantastic!

Now that you have an offer, it’s time to sit down and create a plan for negotiation. Finally, it’s all about you.

You are now desired. You now have leverage. You now have a place at the table.

Enjoy the fun part. Soon you’ll negotiate to an offer that you graciously accept.