-David Pinder

I’ve interviewed hundreds of people and unfortunately they rarely convey the 4 things every employer wants to hear.

Believe me, every question an employer asks is aimed at determining 4 things about you:

1. Are you competent enough to do the job?

2. Can you perform through obstacles?

3. Do you develop positive relationships with stakeholders?

4. Are you results focused?

I call it C.P.R.R. (the lifeline for great organizations). Communicate these 4 things in your next interview and you will get hired!

1. Competence- Research the skills of the job you are seeking and be sure to study some clear talking points about those skills. Before everything else an employer wants to know you can “do” the job. Have some examples ready about the work you have already done related to the tasks of the job.

2. Perform through obstacles- One of the biggest complaints of staff members is that “they don’t have the resources to do the job.” So, guess what..one of the biggest complaints of employers is just the opposite, “staff members can’t problem-solve, handle challenges or innovate when they lack resources.” Employers want to hear that you can perform through obstacles and even that you enjoy the challenge. Have a story ready to share that is compelling for how you overcome challenge in the work place that will make the life of your boss better!

3. Relationships- Our work place is very different today than it was just 10 years ago. The baby boomers, generation Xers, and the millenials all have different work styles but they are responsible for delivering results together. Today, there are millenials in management wearing jeans to work and texting while they present. Baby boomers gasp at the idea and the Xers are somewhere in between. Employers are looking for people who can bridge the differences and work together. They also want you to intimate that you can develop relationships with all stakeholders. Be ready in your next interview to demonstrate how you can be the bridge. Be authentic. Management can tell when you’re lying.

4. Results– At the end of the day employers want results. They want to know you are committed to their vision and mission and to delivering results that are aligned to it. If your interview answers don’t convey results you’ve delivered in the past then forget it. Employers aren’t hiring you to teach you how to do the job. Your salary is being paid to deliver results. Don’t forget this.

Here’s a sample question and answer that can help you merge these characteristics together.

Question: What would you identify as the biggest accomplishment in your current job?

Answer: Our team’s (relationships) biggest accomplishment to date has been the fundraising targets we were able to exceed for the 3rd quarter (results). Our target was to increase fundraising partnerships by 5% and we exceeded this by 20% (results). The 15% increase was important, but it’s how we got there that makes it the biggest accomplishment.

It wasn’t an easy task (performing through obstacles) as our team was made up of people with different business backgrounds and generational styles. But, we designed a daily structure to the work that suited the varied styles. For example, millennials were given more freedom and flexibility with their work schedules while meetings were highly structured to support some of our baby boomers who preferred more organization. Being flexible as a team leader has been important for me, and my colleagues respected that I never wavered in holding the team- and myself- accountable to delivering results.

Finally, we know as a team that results are impossible if we don’t have the skills to do the job. Our 3rd quarter results happened because we all take responsibility for our individual learning and development (competence) and our team culture reflects this!


Every interview question is aimed at understanding your C.P.R.R. so practice crafting answers that demonstrates your strength in these areas! Use stories to express this. It’s best to commit 1-2 stories about each component to memory so they are ready to fly whenever you need them.

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