Are You “Pre-Qualifying” New Career Opportunities? You Should!

Think of pre-qualification as a kind of

Not all career opportunities are created equal.

Some are a fantastic fit with what you’re bringing to the table, and are custom-built to take your professional life to a new level.

Others are, frankly…a waste of time.

Chances are, you’ve probably already been bamboozled by the latter.

Do any of the following ring true:

-You initiated dialogue with a recruiter or hiring manager for a role, it was an absolute love fest for a while…and then total radio silence.

 -The more face-to-face interviews you have, the more it becomes clear that they want someone with a TOTALLY DIFFERENT skill-set.

 -You are treated as an absolute COMMODITY during the interview process. Culminating in an offer that isn’t just below-range for what your peers make, but isn’t even in the same galaxy compensation-wise.

Also Read: 3 Mistakes that Turn You Into a Commodity Candidate

 -You keep agreeing to more and more interviews, they keep saying they’re “about to reach a final decision”… and nothing ever happens.

Think of pre-qualification as a kind of “early detection system” for these kinds of false opportunities. It all hinges on asking, in varied ways throughout the entire hiring process, questions that are designed to reveal:

1) Do these people have a CLEAR UNDERSTANDING of who I am, what I do, and how I can succeed in this role?


2) Do these people have a CLEAR UNDERSTANDING of the role they’re hiring for, and it’s place within the company?

Let’s look at a few situations where you can deploy pre-qualification:

Situation 1: A hiring manager for COMPANY X reaches out to you on LinkedIn about a role, and wants to set up a phone screen.

Response: Say thank you, express interest, but ask a pre-qualification question before moving forward with the screen, something as simple as, “What in my LinkedIn profile made you decide to reach out to me about this role?”

Their answer will tell you a lot about whether they SPECIFICALLY reached out to you, or whether it’s a general blast to dozens, if not hundreds, of other candidates. The latter is a warning sign that this could be a low-quality opportunity.

Situation 2: You’re Being Pushed to Reveal Salary Expectations Early

Response: Let them know that you’re aware of what the salary range is for professionals at your level, and within this industry, and that you’re good with an offer that’s within that range. Now, FLIP the question back to them by asking, “What is the budgeted range for someone at my experience level?”

If they can give you a straight answer, that’s a powerful sign that they understand the market, understand the fair range for this role, and are willing deal plainly. If they hedge their bets or worse, reveal that they have no idea what’s fair for your experience level, watch out.

Also read: When and How to Discuss Salary in the Interview

Situation 3: You’re Being Asked to Come In for Yet Another Follow-Up Interview

Response: Ask the following, “What specific areas will we be focusing on in this interview that has not been covered before?”

If they give you a clear answer (and it makes sense), follow it up by asking what their timeframe is for reaching a decision on this hire, and base your final decision on whether or not to do the interview on the response.

Remember: a company with a clear understanding of YOU and a clear understanding of the ROLE won’t hesitate to share these details. A company that is hiding things from you, or simply floundering, will dissemble. Don’t accept that!

One last point: let’s say pre-qualification warning signs start popping up with an employer. What do you do?

The first route is to politely bow out and focus on more high-value opportunities. Obviously, only do this if you’re sure it’s a waste of time.

The second route is to switch from trying to IMPRESS these people, to pushing for SUBSTANCE. Ask the hardest-hitting questions you have right at the start. Hard comp numbers, potential deal-breakers, the works. At that point your sole focus should be on seeing whether a further investment of time makes sense, so why pull your punches?

About the Author

Anish Majumdar is a nationally recognized Career Coach, Personal Branding Expert, and a fierce advocate for transitioning leaders. His posts and videos on disrupting the "normal rules" of job searching and getting ahead reach a combined audience of 30M professionals every month. Go down the rabbit hole of Anish’s career videos at, and connect with him on LinkedIn to receive daily career tips and advice.