Those wonderful two words people hear when they have asked a well thought out question either during the interview process, offer stage, at a conference, or sitting in a studio being interviewed by a famous talking head. We hear these words and in my opinion they are almost as bad as “but”, “however”, and “you should”.
Most people briefly tune out when they hear “it depends…” because it is a signal that A) a long winded answer is coming or B) they are about to be snowballed into confusion with multiple answers suddenly thrown at them. As recruiters we say these two words a good bit during the process because two candidates are never exactly alike. Sure the positions may be exactly alike but the people in those roles are not. So when we are asked questions about career paths, long term growth or managers ask why their roles are not filled faster than their peers, our minds immediately bring forth the hundreds (if not thousands) of different scenarios we have handled in the past. And then it comes out “It depends…”
“It depends on the timing within the department but we have seen a few employees promoted within their first year and some after five years….”
“It depends, we are in heavy growth right now and who knows what may be available two years…”
“It depends on whether you are willing to work the extra hours to meet….”
“It depends on what you ideally are looking for and what is your main priority – salary? benefits? location? challenging work? awesome culture?”
“It depends on the event, if the hosting firm does not do a good job marketing or with site selection then we could end up paying a large fee for minimal return…”
“It depends on the role we are trying to fill, your positions are highly skilled and sought after industry wide, and most of them do not live in our far flung small town…”
“It depends if those type of candidates actually use social media or not, we would have to research them…”
“It depends on what type of employee you are seeking because what may work for a start-up may not fit the beaurecratic culture here…”
“It depends on the salary range we are willing to pay…”
These are obviously not actual quotes but probably pretty close. People know they are about to be told a generalized answer that may satisfy immediate concerns and it gives the recruiter the opportunity to somewhat address it and quickly move on. The problem is when the candidate or manager ask for details. Be prepared to address their specific situation and do not hesitate to be upfront. It may save you time and help identify that the candidate is not a good fit or that the hiring manager may realize they have set unrealistic expectations. Reducing the use of “it depends” and giving clear straightforward answers I have moved companies forward.
I welcome your thoughts.