Marc Cenedella’s “Proven Question for Getting the Job” Doesn’t

New York City start-up founder and career advisor Marc Cenedella (he is CEO of TheLADDERS) posted on his July 9 2012 blog (  his “Proven Question for Getting the Job”:

Over the past decade, I’ve tried a lot of different thoughts, tricks and tips for getting you the job. But the one which I’ve found has been the most consistently successful for people is to ask their future or prospective bosses:

“How do I help you get a gold star on your review next year?”

With all due respect to Marc, I think he’s in the ballpark with the idea, but that question is out in left field from the hiring manager’s perspective. And “consistently successful”? I doubt it, unless someone is interviewing to be someone’s lackey.

Think about this: what do hiring managers really need? A butt-kissing sychophant or someone who will be the value-add solutions provider, game change, and problem solver who can make a difference for team, the project, the business unit–ultimately, the bottom line?

If someone made that “gold-star” pitch to me in an interview, there’s no way they’d get to the next level of consideration for the job. Such a statement suggests (or reveals) that this candidate has a short-term goal mindset, a calculated strategy of personal quid pro quo (“I’ll help you if you help me”) rather than one that supports the goals of the organization. Sorry, there’s just no room for obsequious sychophants on the hiring manager’s short list.

For anyone who remembers the early 1980s movie The Road Warrior (with Mel Gibson), one of the leading antagonists was a huge character named “Humongus.” One of his sidekicks always referred to him as “the warrior of the wasteland; the ayatollah of rock-and-rolla.” The other leading antagonist was a mohawk-wearing character named “Wez.” The sidekick referred to him as “almighty Wez.” This sidekick was appropriately named, “Toady.”

I just would never hire a toady.


4 thoughts on “Marc Cenedella’s “Proven Question for Getting the Job” Doesn’t

  1. Joe Collins says:

    I thought gold stars were what you got in second grade for good behavior.

  2. Hi Joe:
    Yeah, I thought Marc’s suggestion to use that wording was a bit too sophomoric, which surprised me coming from him. That question, though phrased in a way that SOUNDS like it’s meant to help the hiring manager, really is in a roundabout way all about the candidate.


  3. Proven success, guys. I guess it’s all in how you deliver it. Perhaps think of Vince Vaughan or Ben Affleck asking the question — that ought to give you the right mental image. Good luck.

  4. Hi Marc:
    Thanks a lot for chiming in. I’m still not sure that the “gold star” wording would work for many hiring managers in the industries in which I worked. Just like someone verbalizing in an interview how “ambitious and driven” they are has no value to the hiring manager—BUT a demonstrated record of achievement and accomplishment and maybe even some peer-reviewed journal articles to their credit would suggest an ambitious and driven candidate. Best…Donn

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: