“Ask yourself: Can you fulfill this candidate’s expectations?”

I received a question from an associate, Nebojsa Caric, that gave me a new illumination. The question was how to handle the fact that people have one set of expectations when they seek a job, but that over time their expectations change.

My insight is this: During the interview, you should ask the candidate what s/he wants the job to be. Take notes.

Then ask what s/he expects from the job. Take notes.

Wanting and expecting are not the same thing; for example, I might want to win a lottery but I do not expect it to happen.

Motivation and frustrations are both functions of expectations, so those expectations should be identified during the interview and differentiated from what a person wants. The problem is that people don’t always clearly differentiate between what they want and what they expect.

So, after you’ve written down, separately, your candidate’s “wants” and his/her expectations, read the list of “wants” back to him/her, and ask which of those “wants,” if not fulfilled, would make him/her feel frustrated, and which ones s/he would be able to let go of.

The ones that would make him/her frustrated are expectations in disguise.

Then, go over the list of expectations and ask the same question. The expectations s/he could let go of are only “wants” in disguise. Take them out.

Now you should have a complete list of expectations. Ask yourself: Can you fulfill this candidate’s expectations? If you cannot, this is the wrong person to hire, even if s/he is qualified. If you can meet those expectations, put it in writing and have the candidate sign it.

When, a year later, s/he has a new set of expectations— for example, salary, which will always be much higher than what s/he expected when s/he applied for the job—pull out that list and let him/her read it. Discuss the differences, and realign expectations for the new year.

Notice that the (E) style is going to have mostly, or all, expectations. That is what makes him/her (E)ntrepreneurial. As George Bernard Shaw said, “Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.”

(E)s expect that what they want will be. That is what makes them unreasonable, demanding, and narcissistic. That is the price we pay for progress.

The (P) style is the reverse. They will have only “wants”  and no expectations. They are here to serve, to do what needs to be done and they want to do the job  (P)s expect to fulfill other people’s wishes – other people’s “wants.” Since what others want is a bottomless pit, (P)s work endless hours with no time to train or delegate, and end up becoming Lone Rangers in their managerial style.

The (A) style will have mostly expectations and a few “wants,” while the (I) style will have mostly “wants” and some expectations.

Try it.


Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes