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Practice Pivoting for Your Next Job Interview

Posted on by M!ke Russell


In Oregon, the job market is competitive and so fine-tuning your interview skills can be the secret to getting that next great job. But how do you prepare for questions that you don’t expect?

“What are your salary requirements?” is a job interview question that provokes both relief and dread. Relief, because it indicates that you have a good chance of getting a job offer. Dread, because it opens a conversation that you might not be prepared for.

After a recent job interview in Portland, my friend Amanda bemoaned that she had been surprised by the early timing of the question. She froze. If she shot too high, she feared, she’d appear uninformed. If she shot too low, she could risk earning less than her co-workers doing the same work. 

Prepare Ahead of Time, Pivot in the Moment.

To give herself some time to think, Amanda could have pivoted in her answer; reply to the question with a response that is somewhat related to the original question.

We saw myriad examples of pivoting in the 2012 presidential debates. Both candidates answered specific questions with a loosely related statement prepared ahead of time. Apparently, when done well, pivoting is very hard for us to detect.

A Little Pivoting Goes a Long Way in a Job Interview.

When Amanda was asked about her salary requirements, she could have answered directly and confidently; “I need to earn $X.” Or she could have made a slight deviation with her answer: “(After a little research) It’s my understanding that $X – $Y is a reasonable range for this type of responsibility.”

By giving a researched range, Amanda’s pivot-answer would avoid establishing an unfavorable ceiling for negotiation, but she wouldn’t evade the question altogether. She’d leave herself in a better position to negotiate. For more on researching salaries, check out these Oregon websites to help you boost your salary.

Pivot for Any Type of Job Interview Question.

Pivoting can apply to any job interview question. For example, if your experience doesn’t align perfectly with the stated job requirements (do they ever?), you can explain how your experience applies without admitting that it’s not a perfect fit.

Pivoting allows you to refocus the conversation toward your strength, and away from your weaknesses.

If you’d like to practice pivoting on the fly, join Portland’s toastmasters club.

To contact M!ke directly visit

M!ke Russell
Mike Russell, principal of Pivotal Writing in Portland, helps service professionals, consultants, and innovators to align their online stories with their ideal clients, refine their sales funnels, and expand their online reputations. Mike believes that that alignment yields the best results for businesses, the most enduring change, and the greatest common good.
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