Career Survival Skills: Maybe isn’t an Answer
by Michael Mayher

Often, when we are seeking something, we’re told maybe or some other conditional word like perhaps, possibly or potentially. Sometimes these words are appropriate and the topic under discussion is conditional, although they are also offered in lieu of a real and definitive answer. This is important during a dialogue and interactive conversation, when questions are posed and answers are reciprocated. So if your questions aren’t adequately answered, you owe it to yourself to press for a more complete and substantive response.

During an interview, two parties meet; one to present a job opportunity and the other to present their qualifications and ability to perform the job – pretty simple isn’t it? Yet everyone seems to want to complicate what should be a straight-forward process of evaluation and elimination - but I digress. If you are the job seeker, the interviewee, you likely cannot avoid answering or possibly hide behind a maybe, because it isn’t an answer. Well, the same goes for when you, as a job seeker, ask a question and you get a conditional non-answer. My point is, don’t just roll over and accept a maybe from the interviewer, press them for an answer. In fairness, perhaps they don’t have an answer, or they don’t want to answer and quite possibly they lack the authority to answer. For example: if you ask, “If I do a good job for your company, is there potential for a promotion?” and they reply by saying “maybe, that depends” the obvious fair and reasonable follow up is, “It depends on what?” and logically you should receive a substantive answer.

However, it is surprising how many people fail to press for an answer and they leave an interview without that which they were seeking – a full understanding of the job they want to learn more about.

When I lecture or conduct a seminar, part of what I present are basic negotiation techniques and (sales) closing skills applied to the interview process; applied in a manner to help applicants have more influence on the process they are a part of. One of the most basic rules of negotiating is that you should never give something without getting something (in return). Perhaps never is a strong word for some so instead you should try really, really, hard -- okay. I’m not going to go into it today but a job interview is a sales and selling process whether you think so or not – but, it is. And as such there is another undeniable truth in sales that when you want to close the deal and gain a commitment, a yes is a yes, a no is a no – and a maybe means no, today.

About the Author: Michael Mayher has been an international direct search recruiter on two continents for over 22 years. A consultant, published author, lecturer and blogger, he re-introduces professionals to critical Soft Skills lost in our digital age and necessary to effectively navigate their careers. You can find more information by visiting his blog and website.)
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