Job interviews are funny things. Two parties are involved, but all the time is spent gathering information to support the hiring manager’s decision framework. Jumping through their hoops. But the best conversations happen when candidates demonstrate their own decision framework. in an interview, total strangers are trying to figure out your motivations, so when you share what you are looking for, it makes them more comfortable. It’s safer when both parties are thinking hard about the hiring decision.

But most job seekers never considered how to do that.

How will you decide whether to take the job when it’s offered? During an economic downturn, you might feel like any port in a storm will do, but this approach is psychologically powerful – you are not the supplicant coming on bended knee to the almighty employer. You are an equal participant making your own decision. And just as you are not the employer’s only candidate, they are not the only organization that might offer you a job.

How to Develop a Personal Decision Framework

What kinds of work do you enjoy? What business problems do you love to solve? What work environments would allow you to do the best work of your career? Using the KonMari method, Marie Kondo might ask, “What sparks joy for you at work?”

Think about your trade-offs. Is salary most important? Are you willing to trade work-life balance for career advancement? Are you willing to trade a lower salary for more job security? Are you looking for the opportunity to grow your skills even if it means lower pay? (That’s a smart move in your early career or when you are making the jump to a new industry.)

What drives your behavior? Look back at the patterns of your prior success to find your natural advantages. These are the work situations where you will have your best chances of not only landing the job but thriving in it.

How Your Decision Framework Helps in the Hiring Process

Begin to signal your decision framework with the professional summary on your resume and in your cover letter. That will often be referred to throughout the hiring process, it draws the reader’s attention to key strengths in your background, and stimulates questions about topics that play to your strengths.

Reference your decision framework when you answer interview questions. “I’ve always been drawn to situations where…” or “I like jobs where … is important.”

In the interview, you need to prove why you can achieve results for the organization better than the other people who applied, given all the organization’s current challenges and constraints. And when you prove that in the interview, suddenly every other candidate is going to be judged against your capabilities. You become the hiring standard. In the context of an interview – you don’t have to be the best in the world at something, you only need to demonstrate that you’re measurably better than the other people being interviewed.