E190-Interviewing for Leadership Roles with Farah Sharghi

190. Interviewing for Leadership Roles – with Farah Sharghi

About this Podcast

Ep. 190 – In this week’s episode, we discuss how to nail leadership interviews with insights and strategies from Farah Sharghi. With a wealth of experience as a former Director of Recruitment and HR professional at tech giants like Google, Lyft, Uber, and TikTok, Farah shares invaluable tips to help you shine in your next interview.

Listen in to:

  • gain insider knowledge on how to extract valuable information from recruiters,
  • learn how storytelling can be a powerful tool to conquer the infamous “hypothetical situation” question, and
  • uncover Farah’s secrets to successful negotiation when it comes to compensation (this is gold!)

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Or watch it on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/vSZmMyaLwR0

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Episode 190 Transcript:

Ramona Shaw [00:00:00]:

This episode is specifically for you if you’re interviewing for a leadership role. My guest today is Farah Sharghi, and she is a former director of recruitment and HR. Out of San Francisco, she worked at companies including Google, Lyft, Uber, TikTok, and the the New York Times. She’s also a friend of mine, and I’m Thrilled to have her on and to tap into her wealth of wisdom as it comes to interviewing for recruiting on the other side of the table for leadership roles at companies that have a rig rigorous recruiting process such as those listed a moment ago. Let’s get started and welcome Farrah to the show. Here’s the question. How do you successfully transition into your 1st official leadership role? Build the confidence and competence to lead your team successfully and establish yourself as a respected and trusted leader across the organization. That’s the question, and this show provides the answers.

Ramona Shaw [00:00:56]:

Welcome to The Manager Track podcast. I’m your host, Ramona Shaw, and I’m on a mission to create workplaces where work is not seen as a source of stress and dread, but as a source of contribution, connection, and fulfillment. And this transition starts with developing a new generation of leaders who know how to lead so everyone wins and grows. In the show, you learn how to think, communicate, and act as the confident and competent leader you know you can be. Farah, so good to have you on The Manager Track podcast. Thank you for joining us today.

Farah Sharghi [00:01:26]:

Thank you for having me. It’s so good

Ramona Shaw [00:01:28]:

to see you. Well, we have a lot to talk about, specifically providing some information and insights for leaders who are interviewing for a leadership role. And as you’ve heard in the introduction, you have a lot of experience hiring leaders in organizations, top notch organizations who are pretty rigorous into you and recruitment processes. So I’d love to hear from you overall as you take a step back and reflect or as you think about it the way that you help your clients who are leaders interviewing. What are some of the differences that leaders have to pay attention to in a interview process compared to what would apply to someone who’s an individual contributor?

Farah Sharghi [00:02:06]:

Yeah. Absolutely. So as a leader, it’s your role, it’s your job to be able to take information and Direct what you need to get the things that you want. Right? Like, we we get better at that as we progress in our careers. And so Even before you’re applying to jobs, there’s a lot of prework one needs to do when it comes to deciding, okay, is this a place where I want to to interview? And so part of that is Looking at the business in the news, looking at their stock price, looking at their earnings per share, looking at the mission and values of the company. Right? And so Really taking all of that in and deciding, okay, is this a place where I want to work? Can I contribute? What’s the old saying? You You can rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, but if that ship is destined to sink, do you really wanna be on it? Because I don’t wanna be on it. Right? And one of the biggest tips I can give is when you, as a leader, do get that interview with the recruiter, You need to take as much information from that recruiter as possible. And what that means is this.

Farah Sharghi [00:03:07]:

So the recruiter is obviously gonna ask you very standard questions. Tell me about yourself, walk me through your experience. Tell me more about, like, how you got to where you are. So being a good storyteller is very important, And so storytelling from the perspective of what that person needs to hear from you is important. So if you look at interviews with Tim Cook, For example, or where he’s presenting. He’s a master storyteller. Right? He’s a good example. When the recruiter asks if you have any questions, That’s when you can bring out your arsenal of questions, and you can ask, okay.

Farah Sharghi [00:03:40]:

First of all, why is this position open? That’s important. Is this a backfill or did the leader quit? Did the leader get promoted? Right? That will give you some cues and clues as to why this position is open and how you need to position yourself as a result of that. Right? If the person was fired, then, you know, you can ask a few clarifying questions. Say, oh, like, can you tell me more about what was going on? And just see what the recruiter says. Right? Ask more of those open ended questions. Then from there, ask how the organization is structured.

Ramona Shaw [00:04:09]:


Farah Sharghi [00:04:10]:

Asking the recruiter for the structure is also important. The recruiter will know that, a good recruiter Well and if you are a leader, you’re going to be working with more experienced recruiters. And you asking these questions will also indicate to the recruiter But you are likely a good candidate for this position because you know how to ask good relevant questions for the situation that you are

Ramona Shaw [00:04:31]:

in. Mhmm.

Farah Sharghi [00:04:33]:

These are things that are also very important.

Ramona Shaw [00:04:35]:

And for just to jump in there for a second, the organizational structure is significantly more important for a leader than it is for an individual contributor. Right? Because leaders will know Correct. For me to understand how I will work with senior leaders or with peers in different departments or teams that will impact their success in this role.

Farah Sharghi [00:04:55]:

Mhmm. Absolutely. And so you also have to understand, okay, will you have more interaction with Peers or will you be managing more people? So you have to really understand, like, how many direct reports will you have? Who are those direct reports? Are they also ICs, or are they also leaders? Because if you have ICs as individual contributors as your direct report, Then you have to tailor your answers of, like, how’s your managerial style towards something that’s more aligned with individual contributors. Like, for me, for example, I have more of a coaching style. That’s just how I like to approach my leadership. Whereas if you are working with other leaders, let’s say you’re a a vice president or your president, let’s say you’re at that level, then you probably have other VPs or senior managers reporting to you. So you’re going to have to adapt your coaching style to those other leaders because they are also leaders.

Ramona Shaw [00:05:48]:

Right. And that will influence the way you need to respond to all the succeeding questions about your leadership philosophy and, your impact role. Such an important part. So that is for the 1st interview with the recruiter. And then what next? What are some of the following steps that you think are uniquely different for leaders and may even be things that leaders don’t pay attention to? Like, where you see, these are intelligent competent leaders, but they messed up the interview process because they had some light spots.

Farah Sharghi [00:06:16]:

Yeah. Well, first of all, I think with leadership interviews, they feel more like conversations.

Ramona Shaw [00:06:21]:


Farah Sharghi [00:06:22]:

More so than walk me through this process. For individual contributors, it’s okay. There’s this problem. How did you fix it? Walk me through the technical steps and walk me through the steps of how you did things. Whereas with leadership, there’s going to be slightly less of that, and there may be more of those, like they’ll feel like softball questions Or explain to me a time when so you will get those behavioral questions, but the context of the behavioral Questions will be very different because it’s geared more toward leadership. So there’s almost like a political aspect to it. And so How do you answer that question while being as politically correct as possible and moving the needle forward?

Ramona Shaw [00:07:00]:

It tells more about what you mean with politically correct and how How are leaders successful in this? Like, what what does this tactically look like? Maybe if it someone who does this really or did this really well.

Farah Sharghi [00:07:11]:

I would say a good quote is seek to understand before being understood. Mhmm. So it’s really about understanding the situation to its fullest context and then being able to contribute your opinion or based on your experience, either the things that I would do. Right? That’s I think the the biggest He is oftentimes people will just jump straight to an answer. That’s not going to work because you don’t understand the context of the situation. And so When you’re asked these questions in an interview, it might just sound really casual, like, oh, how what would you do if this situation came up? So it sounds very casual. It’s not a casual question. It is meant to sound casual just to see how you would respond.

Farah Sharghi [00:07:53]:

Right? And so as you’re asking those questions, you can also be very friendly, and you ask Clarifying questions around who, what, where, when, why, and how. Like, who is involved? What what are the contacts? You know, those types of things. Then when you have a fuller understanding of the context, then you can proceed with an answer and say, well, you know, in my experience, based on what you’re telling me, Here’s how I would approach the situation. And then you can use frameworks like the STAR method. It’s just a very classic framework that you can use as well to to answer the question.

Ramona Shaw [00:08:24]:

That is such a good one, and I can see how many people slide right into jumping into an answer and not asking those clarifying questions up front. Yeah. Of of understanding comics and recognizing there’s not one way to do anything. Right? And experienced leaders will know that.

Farah Sharghi [00:08:40]:

Experienceful leaders will know that. I’ll give an experience that I had working at a very popular company. I’m not gonna say which one. It was for an individual contributor though, but the The context still applies. And so it was a software engineering interview with a, I think, like a senior or principal level engineer, And he answered a question that was technically correct. And then, like, some of the interviewers were scoffing at the answer, and I said, Excuse me. I know I studied engineering, but as a layperson, I don’t understand why you’re scoffing at the answer that the candidate gave you. I go, was it wrong? And they said no.

Farah Sharghi [00:09:14]:

And I so then I asked clarifying questions. I go, okay. Was this an optimal solution to the problem? And they said, well, technically, yes. I go, okay. So then the candidate actually answered it correctly because you didn’t give the candidate additional context. You just assume that the candidate understood your systems and tools. You didn’t give any additional context to the candidate. Did the candidate ask? Yes.

Farah Sharghi [00:09:40]:


Ramona Shaw [00:09:41]:

Then it’s your fault.

Farah Sharghi [00:09:42]:

Mhmm. Right? And so it that’s why it’s so important to understand context because oftentimes, interviewers We’ll ask you questions, and if they’re not very experienced outside of, let’s say, their own organization, Then they will only think about their own organization and their own structure. So you as an as a candidate, when you’re interviewing, you you can headline before you ask Questions and say, you know, just for for additional context because I obviously don’t work at your company. I really wanna have a better understanding of, You know, the structure, the organization, etcetera. So I’d like to ask a few clarifying questions, and then you can jump into your clarifying questions.

Ramona Shaw [00:10:19]:

Nice. Yeah. Nice move. So here’s one that I you know, curious to hear your thoughts on this. This one has come up with several of my clients. It’s a question around their leadership philosophy. And so I always in my programs for more advanced leaders will talk about And especially when someone is going through an interview process, how do you respond to the questions of how you manage an underperformer? How do you in Motivate and team. How do you build an inclusive team? What is your approach to compensation or recognition or, what do you do in a situation where there’s conflict on the team? And someone who’s not able to articulate the their values or their leadership style and Default, again, it’s all situational, but default approaches that can lead to a perception in the recruiting team or the hiring manager that in you’re not really prepared.

Farah Sharghi [00:11:11]:

True. Yeah. That’s a good point. I would say that leaders who are unprepared are the ones, in my experience, are the ones who are not able to give a very clear answer, and they try to be very neutral, very With Cirla. And they go, well, you know, like, it’ll fix itself. And you’re like, no. It won’t. No.

Farah Sharghi [00:11:30]:

We won’t. And in fact, conflict is not a bad thing. Right. Conflict is actually a good thing. In Because as long as conflict is treated with respect.

Ramona Shaw [00:11:39]:


Farah Sharghi [00:11:39]:

Right? Agitation creates the pearl. That’s my favorite saying. And so if there is conflict, there’s a reason for the conflict. So understand what that conflict is, trying to understand each person or each party’s perspective and point of view, And helped to find a solution that appeases the parties as messed as possible whilst considering the business need. Because businesses are in the business of making money, period. End of discussion. Right? You’re not unless you’re working for a nonprofit, that’s slightly different, but even then, they want, You know, they’re not going to waste their money. Right? So keeping that in mind, okay, I wanna hear what everybody has to say.

Farah Sharghi [00:12:18]:

And then if you are the ultimate decision maker, You have to be able to articulate to those parties why you’re making those decision in the most respectful way possible. And even if you have to tell 1 party, no, I don’t agree with you, These are the reasons why. And also just approaching it with respect. I find that sometimes people get a little too emotional or they they again, they’re either Scared or they just say, I’m not gonna explain myself. I’m just gonna do it. And that’s where I think people make the largest missteps is they don’t want to explain themselves and hold themselves responsible for their decisions.

Ramona Shaw [00:12:53]:

Right. So do you see that just to clarify, you see that in a interview process as well as much as it is in the actual role.

Farah Sharghi [00:13:00]:

Absolutely. Because, I mean, they’re gonna ask you behavioral questions, situational questions, Like, hypothetical scenarios. Like, okay, if you’re presented with this and this, how would you approach it? And so in that case, you have to decide, okay, well, What information do I need? What is the situation? Where’s the conflict? And and think to yourself, what is the best resolution for this conflict that will appease whichever party it makes the most sense to appease, to move the business forward.

Ramona Shaw [00:13:27]:

Mhmm. And so in order to prepare for such situations, what’s the best way for leaders to go about it? So if I because if I imagine myself being in an interview process right now. I hear you talk about this, and I am wondering what what exactly does that look like? What do I need to do? What’s the homework for me? Things to think about in order to then be able to respond adequately. And, of course, one of them is just to be on the point, and be able to be concise and clear and speak with courage.

Farah Sharghi [00:13:57]:

But what else? I think you hit the nail on the head, Ramona, because it’s what I find is, Again, it’s just people just don’t wanna answer the question, so they try to dance around the answer without actually cutting right Through the cheese, so to speak. I just say, okay, no, this is my answer. This is why. And having that conviction in your answer and being able to support your argument.

Ramona Shaw [00:14:18]:


Farah Sharghi [00:14:19]:

In a concise manner. Right. And then in terms of practice, it’s like, look at your own scenario, talk to people on your team, figure out, like, where have been the conflicts, Look in the past, see where those resolutions are. And as you’re interviewing, you are going to need some of those stories in your toolkit, So to speak. So that way, when you are interviewing, you could say, oh, let me pull that story out. I’ve got that one prepared.

Ramona Shaw [00:14:41]:

Mhmm. Great. So if I make an example here so give give me some coaching or some feedback after this. But if I imagine someone says, you have someone on the team Or you’re stepping into team and the previous manager says, by the way, Joey on the team here has been underperforming for a while and Kind of, like, missed missed the boat, and you just have to be on it. Like, pay attention to it and see what you wanna do. Within a couple weeks, you recognize, Well, this person’s not at all performing, and it’s a problem that I’ve been nicely handed to. What are you going to do? So in a situation like this, oh my god. If that is a hypothetical question, I might say, Well, I believe in coming in with a fresh set of eyes and allowing everyone to Reset the new relationship or create a new re relationship with with their manager.

Ramona Shaw [00:15:35]:

In this case, that would be me. So I will, while I have this context, I will start off Really giving that person a chance to see if our relationship and my coaching with them will get them into a better place. If I don’t, I will usually give it about 60 days to then initiate next steps, which may maybe a transfer, reassignment, or exiting the company. But I usually try to tackle those things within about 60 days. Is that clear enough? And did I articulate this well? Or what kind of feedback would you have? I would

Farah Sharghi [00:16:08]:

say it’s a good start, but I would also include a story. So for example, I actually have had that situation where There was an underperformer on the team, and, actually, an engineering leader came to me and said, this recruiter that I’m working with is not that great, and We’ve had all these issues. And in some context, they’re awesome, and others, they’re just not on the ball. There’s no backup plan and strategy, and that Person reported to someone else. And so I asked that that person be moved over to my team because I wanted to be able to To come in and assist. If an engineering leader is coming to me, then there’s clearly some issues, and I I wanna step in and be as helpful as I can. And so I did exactly that, had a fresh pair of eyes. And really ask the and direct report, how are you feeling about your job? How are things going? Are there any holes in your process that you think maybe need Growing up, and so it’s good to understand that person’s perspective because they may not see the problem.

Farah Sharghi [00:17:02]:

Mhmm. Whereas leadership does see that there’s a problem. So clearly, there’s a disconnect. And if there is that disconnect, it’s my job as a leader to figure out what the disconnect is and how to circumvent that, and part of that was process. The process that they were leveraging was completely inefficient, was not working at all. It was very confusing. Data was getting lost. So I said, okay.

Farah Sharghi [00:17:22]:

We’re going to adopt a new process that been working for this team over here. Great. K. First, we we cleaned up the process. Then What I did was I started observing the recruiters’ behavior and asking them, okay. How are you how are you managing your day? How are you managing your candidate calls? How are you reaching out to candidates? Oh, okay. Well, you’re doing that. Well, let me help you maximize efficiency.

Farah Sharghi [00:17:43]:

Use this tool. It’ll cut down your time in half. Great. From there, I asked to observe a few calls with candidates. And so while I was listening to these phone calls, I was actually sending them Slack messages and saying, okay. Now say this to the now say that to the candidate to help improve the overall performance, and we turn the we turn the direct report around. And so If you can come at it with a story where there’s, like, almost a hero’s journey of here was the problem, I did all of these things, and the outcome was something that was very positive, which was we were able to retain an employee so we didn’t have to go out, spend money on hiring somebody else, and this person was great. Great rapport with with colleagues, and it’s not somebody that we want to have leave the company, but clearly there was a learning gap, and also the business wasn’t helping him.

Farah Sharghi [00:18:32]:

So I, as a leader, had to come in and provide those solutions.

Ramona Shaw [00:18:35]:

Mhmm. Beautiful. Okay. So high level and then supported with a story and ideally with a personal experience.

Farah Sharghi [00:18:42]:

Mhmm. Absolutely. But, also, I think what’s also good if leaders can do this all I recommend this for ICs as well, but for leaders, it’s very important to talk about a time when you failed.

Ramona Shaw [00:18:53]:


Farah Sharghi [00:18:53]:

What you learned from that failure and how you took that failure in the lesson into another situation where you were successful. So being able to tell that story is also equally as important, if not more important, because we all fail. That’s fine. Failures are fine because we learn from them. So taught being able to talk about it and even volunteering that information shows your strength of character and how you’re not afraid of being humble and speaking about your failures.

Ramona Shaw [00:19:24]:

Which, by the way, plays right into the leadership skills too, and how leaders are often evaluated and to which degree they can build trust, be vulnerable, and have that sense of growth mindset that then will have a ripple effect on the rest of the team. And so I love that you point that out. And just to recap, what I’m hearing from you is if you find a story or an example where you can say, Let’s use this again. Well, I had this happen to me about 5 years ago. And what I did, I came in really pre with with preconceived notion of this employee. And we weren’t able to turn it around because x y z. And, you know, I really learned from this situation, reflected on it, and realized that if I had done this a different way. There would have been a chance that we could have turned it around.

Ramona Shaw [00:20:08]:

So when this happened again about 2 years ago, I stepped in it with a fresh approach. I did x y z, and actually, we did get to the place where I mean, in an ideal scenario, this would all perfectly line up. I can imagine that sometimes you’ll have to get a bit not creative as of making up information, but be resourceful to call from different examples and see things that are transferable or reflect a similar storyline that you could weave into into the Nancy. Absolutely. Love that. Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about adjusting to the companies and changing your narrative if need to in order to speak to the leadership philosophy or the values of an organization because not every company is run the same way. The a company in the Bay Area may have very different mindsets than what would like a a startup environment than some big company with a head quarter somewhere very different or even in a different, country altogether.

Ramona Shaw [00:21:07]:

What do leaders need to do to reflect that they would fit into the organization as a leader?

Farah Sharghi [00:21:12]:

Yeah. I mean, definitely asking good questions and asking the leaders, what is your leadership style?

Ramona Shaw [00:21:19]:


Farah Sharghi [00:21:20]:

And how does it align with the company? Don’t be afraid to just ask it outright. That’s totally fine. But, again, whatever you can get from the recruiter initially, Try to get as much information from the recruiter as possible. Find out about the culture. Is it a culture of openness? Like, in the Friday meetings, let’s just say, because most Companies have, like, a big meeting on Fridays or Wednesday or whichever day. Like, what’s the approach? Is it that the the CEO speaks? And is there live q and a, or is it a prepared q and a? Because if it’s a prepared q and a, then you know. Oh, so they wanna have these rehearsed Questions and answers. Maybe they’re afraid to go live and speak their thoughts.

Farah Sharghi [00:21:58]:

Right? So, like, all of these little cues and clues will help you. Another tip, which might be a bit more advanced, but I’ll just mention it. When you are speaking to a leader, pay attention to their language. Pay attention when they say I statements. I see, I feel, I think. This will tell you what kind of learner they are, And you can adapt your language to what they’re saying. If they say, I see this, I envision this, they are a visual learner. So wherever you can place more of those visual aspects of storytelling and you can adapt the things that you say, you could say, okay.

Farah Sharghi [00:22:35]:

Well, I see this when I When I’m working with the team, and I envision blah blah blah. Right? If they use language like I feel, then they’re Probably more like a tactile learner. They’re probably more of an the impasse. So for them, it’s more about, like, feelings. And so, again, like, coming at it from that approach as as well will be helpful.

Ramona Shaw [00:22:55]:

Mhmm. So adapting your style to the communication style to that of the the person in the Very nice. Now let’s fast forward a bit, and talk about what happens in an offer negotiation. There there are a few components that usually only apply or come into play when someone is stepping into a leadership role. What are some of the new the nuances there that leaders need to pay attention to?

Farah Sharghi [00:23:20]:

So leaders are typically more their their compensation derives mostly from bonus and equity. And I know that there are some companies out there that, let’s say, are not publicly traded, but there’s, occasionally, there is internal equity that’s considered too. And the reason for this is because the company wants to align the success of the the company with a leader’s compensation. It’s It’s not the same way with individual contributors. And and I see your individual contributor usually get the a base salary, they’ll get a bonus, and maybe some equity component, Maybe or some type of profit sharing. But with leaders, there could be, different types of shares that they’ll get. Bonus could be, like, let’s say, 40% of their overall Compensation. Right? And so, again, it’s just more about being a leader and taking the strategy of the business and executing on the strategy as opposed to being an individual contributor who’s actually doing the the day to day operations of of the business.

Farah Sharghi [00:24:19]:

When it comes to negotiating salary, I always tell people negotiation starts before the 1st phone call. You need to do your research, Find as much information out there as possible. There is information out there that’s for public view. You can go to levels. F y I as a website. The blind app is great. You have to have a work email to sign up for that. Another one is Glassdoor.

Farah Sharghi [00:24:40]:

Just keep in mind that none of that information is actually audited. And so it’s not confirmed that that is actually the case, and also compensation changes. But it will give you a good idea of what the compensation structure looks like. In terms of what you can and cannot negotiate, base salary, you can negotiate. Equity, you can negotiate. Usually, bonus, you cannot negotiate. The reason why is because Leaders at certain levels all get the same bonus at that level. So it’s always a, like, a certain percentage.

Farah Sharghi [00:25:08]:

It’s rare that I’ve ever seen bonuses So be able to annual bonus being negotiable, and also a sign on bonus.

Ramona Shaw [00:25:15]:


Farah Sharghi [00:25:15]:

So if you really believe in this company, you really wanna work on company. And you are trying to negotiate a sign on bonus. Even as you’re negotiating, bring it up and say, you know, what about a 2 year sign on bonus As opposed to a 1 year bonus. So let’s say, just for the sake of simplicity, let’s say you’re negotiating $100,000 sign on bonus. You can say, okay. Why don’t we split it up over 2 years? I’ll get 50,000 the 1st year, 50,000 the 2nd year. That ensures that you as a leader will be staying on for longer because that’s something else that the company will always be concerned about is if they hire you, how long will you plan on staying? So whatever you can do to tell the company, hey. I really do wanna be here for the long term.

Farah Sharghi [00:26:00]:

Why don’t we split up that bonus? That’s a good green light for them.

Ramona Shaw [00:26:05]:

Right. So you said there’s something really important. You said the negotiation part starts before you even hop on a phone call with the recruit to do the research. Even though if I’ve done the research and I get the point that I need to do my homework ahead of time and understand what their structure is. Why is this relevant before I even speak to the recruiter? Is it because, yeah, I need to be prepared to answer questions in that first phone call about my salary expectation? Or am I supposed to to ask questions?

Farah Sharghi [00:26:34]:

You will be asked. More than likely, you will be asked. Now if you live in a state like California or New York, they will publicize the salary compensation, but that’s not the total compensation. Salary usually just indicate the base salary. But sometimes they’ll say, okay. Total comp is this range. And sometimes that range can be very wide, and you’re going, wait a minute. How do we go from, like, 10,000 to $1,000,000? I’ve actually seen those ranges.

Farah Sharghi [00:27:01]:

That is absolutely ridiculous. That’s not the range for one role. That’s arranged for, like, an entire company. That’s absolutely silly. It’s important to arm yourself with this information because more than likely the recruiter will ask, What kind of compensation are you targeting? And so what you’d need to do is actually flip that question around And let them know, I really wanna work for this company. I have done my own research. And then you ask them, what is the what is the range for this level, for this position.

Ramona Shaw [00:27:30]:


Farah Sharghi [00:27:31]:

Don’t ask how much money have you budgeted for this position. Budgeting is different been asking about a target range for a level four role.

Ramona Shaw [00:27:40]:


Farah Sharghi [00:27:40]:

So that’s something also to Distinguish, and oftentimes, ICs get that very confused, and I tell them it’s not budget. Right. Every company has a spreadsheet where they say, okay. People who work at this level can make between this and this.

Ramona Shaw [00:27:55]:

People who work

Farah Sharghi [00:27:55]:

at this level can make between this and this. Mhmm. So what you do is you ask for the range of the role, And then you ask after that, what is the midpoint of the range? Mhmm. But the midpoint may not be in the middle, maybe closer towards the end, or maybe closer towards the The the top end of the range. And then from there, you can ask more clarifying questions if you would like. You can ask typically And, again, it depends on the level. So if you’re more of a senior manager, you can ask this. If you’re, let’s say, c suite or president, vice president level, I wouldn’t ask this.

Farah Sharghi [00:28:27]:

You can ask when people are hired into this type of role outside of the company, where do the offers typically fall within the range? Mhmm. And let the recruiter speak. Don’t feed them any information. Don’t say I did my research and and expose what you’ve done, and said you want to hear what they have to say. If the recruiter is hesitant, if the recruiter won’t give you that information, that is a red flag. That’s not a yellow flag. That is a red flag. That company knows how much money they have allocated for that level.

Farah Sharghi [00:28:57]:

If they’re not telling you, then there’s something else they’re not telling you. Mhmm. What could be going on is they there’s something about you that the recruiter is saying, This person is either below the level of what I’m interviewing them for or above that level.

Ramona Shaw [00:29:14]:


Farah Sharghi [00:29:15]:

And so I don’t wanna show my cards too soon Until I talk to the hiring manager first.

Ramona Shaw [00:29:22]:

Right. Right. So what do you do in such a situation?

Farah Sharghi [00:29:25]:

Yeah. I mean, I still ask and just Say, okay. Well, in the event that you finally decide on a range, if you could let me know, that’d be great. Leave it as that. That’s what I would do in a situation when you are more of a senior leader. Right. Right. Because you you’ve got your cards.

Farah Sharghi [00:29:39]:

You know what you know what’s going on. Right? If they progress you forward, then okay. This is They clearly want me, and then then you can call the recruiter and say, okay. Did you did you get a chance to to look at that compensation? If the recruiter wants to move you forward, but still won’t disclose that compensation. Let them know. Okay. I’m not comfortable moving forward until we have that compensation conversation, and I would really like to know what that range is. They’ll give it to you at some point.

Farah Sharghi [00:30:04]:

In And if they don’t, you don’t waste your time. You move

Ramona Shaw [00:30:08]:

on. Right. I think that’s such an important point, and I know that a lot of people are, you know, especially going through and into your run for the 1st time that includes sort of the the bigger, more substantial salary salary, and offer negotiations. Those are tricky conversations to have. And I know that you’re really, really straightforward and transparent with your suggestions and ideas. So Quick note here, and we will link to this in the show now. Check out Farah’s Instagram and TikTok channels and social media channels. Overall, she has so much great content and useful tips that she shares on a regular basis that will take this even further with very tactical suggestions and questions and answers and all of that.

Ramona Shaw [00:30:50]:

So let’s wrap up this conversation. I know we could go on for a long time, but Fair enough. Bring this right. We’re gonna bring this to a close. I’d love to quickly talk about AI and how you see candidates benefit from leveraging AI in the interview process. Because I know that you’re have some thought leadership around this or you’re pretty actively involved in figuring out how to do this well. Can you give us some suggestions and ideas for our listeners?

Farah Sharghi [00:31:19]:

Yeah. I would say don’t be afraid of AI. AI well, also, AI is not taking a recruiter’s job anytime soon because it’s still a very people oriented business. What we can do is leverage AI to be found by those executive recruiters or be found by Encruiters. In order for them to find you though, you do need to optimize your LinkedIn profile. The best use case I could think of for using AI to Optimize your LinkedIn profile is optimizing your headline. The reason why is because there is a tool that remote a lot of recruiters use. It’s called LinkedIn Recruiter.

Farah Sharghi [00:31:52]:

It’s a very expensive tool. One full license, I think, is around $10,000 per year per recruiter. There’s also a light version that’s, like, $1800 a year, But it’s basically Google search that recruiters use to find candidates.

Ramona Shaw [00:32:07]:


Farah Sharghi [00:32:08]:

And so as a recruiter myself, if I’m trying to find a candidate, and I’m typing in keywords to find this person. What happens in search is that what pulls up is a candidate’s profile picture And their headline. How long and like the job titles for each job they’ve had and how long they’ve worked there. That’s what I see initially. So that headline is key because in that headline, that’s where the recruiter is going to see, okay, this Person is doing blah blah blah and so what you can do to optimize your headline is you can go into chat g b t or bard And type in elements of your resume. You don’t have to type in all of them. You can just type in, you know, the job titles and and ask ChatGPT, Help me write a LinkedIn headline that that takes into consideration my background and is optimized for Keywords that a recruiter would be searching for to find me and see what the output is. It’s not gonna be perfect at first and something you gotta massage a little bit.

Farah Sharghi [00:33:07]:

But, again, you know your profession better than than most. So if you were to find you

Ramona Shaw [00:33:13]:


Farah Sharghi [00:33:13]:

On the Internet, what Keywords would you use outside of your name and outside of the companies you worked at? How would you find you on the Internet? That’s the best way of approaching keywords. And so incorporating as many of those keywords in the headline as possible, it’s gonna be super helpful. And also embedding keywords Throughout your LinkedIn profile in the about section for every role that you’ve had and also having very clear job titles That are as universal as possible is also very important. So for example, when I worked at TikTok, my title was global talent acquisition partner, Which make that sound like I, like, manage the Kardashians or something. Right? It’s like, I don’t manage influencers. I help find talent for the organization. So from my job title, I have that, but then I also have a hyphenated lead recruiter or principal recruiter. Right? So having some of those universal titles, and you can use AI to to help you with that too and just type in some prompts and say, this was my job title.

Farah Sharghi [00:34:10]:

These were my duties. What are some more universal job titles that are aligned to what I’ve done. Right. And then going to LinkedIn, typing in the titles, see what pulls through because, you know, LinkedIn is a search engine. So you just type it in, and it’ll give you a whole list of job titles that are common based on what you’re Typing. And so that will also indicate to you, oh, okay. Maybe those titles may or may not be better for my profile. And the reason why this is important is because As you start optimizing your LinkedIn profile, you’ll see how often you are being searched for on LinkedIn and what are those things that you’re being searched we’re on.

Farah Sharghi [00:34:48]:

And, you know, again, you can use AI to help you with that too.

Ramona Shaw [00:34:52]:

Sweet. Okay. So that is a very tactical suggestion that I think everyone should play around with, whether or not you make the changes, but at least you see, yeah, what are some of the common terms, the keywords. I definitely know from some people who get bombarded with requests, and messages from recruiters, and then others don’t. And they’re equally qualified with an equally good resume or job history. And that may be the difference. Yeah. I mean, it could be that

Farah Sharghi [00:35:18]:

the people who are reached now that’s the other thing too. So here here in lies the rub. The people who are being reached out to the most, are they being reached out to for the jobs that they want Or not. Because it there may be a lot of keywords that they’ve incorporated, but they’re like, why am I getting job opportunities for these jobs? Like, that’s So we’re that’s not even close to what I’m doing now. Right. Okay. That’s an indicator. Well, maybe that I need to fix a few things on my LinkedIn profile.

Ramona Shaw [00:35:44]:

I get a lot of people who ask me if I wanna invest in their real estate because that is somewhere on my On my resume. Yes. Okay. Maybe I did a little

Farah Sharghi [00:35:54]:

I love that.

Ramona Shaw [00:35:57]:

Sweet. Thank you so much for this conversation and for giving us a bit of a a glimpse into your world and what you do. We will link in the show notes where to find you and your social media channels. But quickly, in your own words, where would you just people go, and who are you most keen to help?

Farah Sharghi [00:36:13]:

Oh gosh. So I would say my most active social channel right now is TikTok, and you can by me, by my name, Farah Sharghi. One r in Farah, not 2. I’m also on Instagram, and I’m adding more long form content on YouTube. In terms of the people that I help, my background in recruiting is mostly in big tech. So I’ve recruited at Google, Lyft, Uber, and TikTok. I’ve also received offers from many of the FAANG companies as well, and I have a very tight knit team of other recruiters in my network that that I leverage there. And, also, I help people who work in finance because I spent a decade working in private wealth management, 7 years at Fidelity Investments, and then 3 years working at Various RIAs, which are very small boutique y firms.

Farah Sharghi [00:36:54]:

And so, you know, people who are trying to align and work for those types of companies, those are the the People that I can help the most.

Ramona Shaw [00:37:03]:

Nice. Okay. There’s so much value in having a career coach who supports People or you, listener in an interview process, if you are looking to find a new job and level up, That is an investment that will pay back multiples over if you get that help and those insight tips and suggestions that Farah has to share. So definitely check her out, follow her, or connect with her directly to see how she might be able to help you. Farah, thank you so much for being on The Manager Track. It was A real treat to speak with you today.

Farah Sharghi [00:37:34]:

Likewise. Thank you so much for having me.

Ramona Shaw [00:37:36]:

This was super fun. If you enjoyed this episode, then check out 2 other awesome resources to help you become a leader people love to work with. This includes my best selling book, The Confident and Competent New Manager, which you can find on Amazon or at ramona shaw.com/book, and a free training on how to successfully lead as a new manager. You check it out at ramona shah.com/masterclass. These resources and a couple more, you’ll find in the show notes down below.


  1. How can job candidates prepare themselves before applying for leadership roles, and why is this pre-work important in the job application process?
  2. What are some key strategies for effectively answering behavioral and situational interview questions as a leader, and how can these responses showcase problem-solving skills and leadership abilities?
  3. How does Farah highlight the importance of understanding context and using storytelling in interviews to demonstrate problem-solving skills and leadership capabilities?
  4. What advice does Farah offer on effectively addressing past failures and lessons learned during leadership interviews, and how can this vulnerability and growth mindset contribute to a candidate’s overall appeal?




Grab your copy of Ramona’s best-selling book ‘The Confident & Competent New Manager: How to Rapidly Rise to Success in Your First Leadership Role’: amzn.to/3TuOdcP

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Are you in your first manager role and don’t want to mess it up? Watch our FREE Masterclass and discover the 4 shifts to become a leader people love to work for: ramonashaw.com/masterclass

Don’t forget to invest time each week to increase your self-awareness, celebrate your wins, and learn from your mistakes. Your career grows only to the extent that you grow. Grab your Career Journal with leadership exercises and weekly reflections here: ramonashaw.com/shop

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