Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interview Question: No, No and No! (Part 1)

I read this today in a career newsletter that those who are finding a job assume has expert and therefore correct, job advice.  This newsletter has  a HUGE circulation.  This entry goes with the one on my Facebook fan page ( that starts out HEINOUS!  In fact, maybe I’ll just start a HEINOUS! category.

I’m not naming the career ”expert” who posted this – the name is irrelvant anyway - but they’re a recruiter and they should know better.  
Here’s their advice:

Toward the end of an interview the interviewer will typically turn to you and ask “do you have any questions?” It is always good to be prepared for this question and to have good thought out questions to respond with. Things that are always good to ask about are company benefits, pay day schedule, management set-up, what does a typical day in this job look like? – those kinds of questions keep the conversation going and show your interest in the position.

Aye carumba!  Can anyone spot the NO NO NO part?  Yes, it’s the “company benefits, pay day schedule” part. A little psychological insight into why I’m so emphatic.

The money/benefits/vacation part is a game, but it’s not really a game.  Some people make money the priority in their job search,  but that’s putting the cart before the horse.  First, if you focus on money to the exclusion of the people with whom you’ll be working, the philosophy and culture of the company, whether the new job has the components that motivate you and make you happy to be there (and about ten other things I’m not going to go into now because it’s off the topic of this post),  you might very well be unhappy in your new job at this company.

Sell yourself to the highest bidder without regard for all the other factors and if you’re unhappy, eventually the money you’re making isn’t going to be enough to compensate you for work ingat a place you hate.  And once the relief of your new job wears off and reality sets in, that’s what you could very well discover.

That’s why salary doesn’t get talked about first (it does with companies, but again, that’s a whole separate topic and post).  Because the point of an interview is to find out if they’re who you want and you’re who they want.  Additionally, it’s ridiculous to talk about money when neither side has attached value to the other.

If you’re going to buy a car for $30K and you won’t go over that price, and someone calls you up and says “Hey I have this cherry red convertible that runs like a dream; cream leather seats and brand new stereo – it’s $37K – you want it?” You’ll be like, “no, too expensive.”  So say – just say – you decide to go look at it.  And you fall in love with the color and you drive it and feel the wind in your hair and the sun on your face and maybe you begin to rationalize why $37K is okay.

The point here isn’t actually about going higher or lower than your salary, as much as it is about value.  Once you get to know something – or someone – and decide you want it – or them – then you look at how you can make it work.  So salary up front, and making a decision on that, might eliminate getting the information you need.

This isn’t to say money is unimportant.  One of my clients right now has an offer on the table with a company who has offered her $74.  In her previous job, in a slightly different capacity, she was making over $90K.  She really likes the place and wants the job.  Every single other one of the 8 points I put so much emphasis on is ranking very high.  There are some other issues we’re discussing that aren’t relevant to this blog post, but what is relevant is that the difference is enough that it poses a serious problem, not the least of which might be compromising her salary in future positions.  She was willing to bottom line at $80K.  So we’re embarking on a negotiation strategy.

Had the salary been discussed up front, she’d have walked away and never learned that she really wants to work here.  Perhaps we can work it out, perhaps not.

From the company’s side, it’s a huge turn off.  Yes, I know they violate that by asking you up front, but like I said, that’s a different circumstance and for another time.  At the point they’ve decided to bring you in, your asking about salary at the beginning of the interview communicates that that’s all you care about.  It tells them that your head is in the wrong place for all the reasons stated earlier.  A company wants someone who wants them for who they are, not someone who is all about the paycheck.  Ask those two questions ever, much less in the first interview, and you’ll be dropped from consideration.

In fact, don’t ever, ever bring up the topic.  Period.

That advice, and HEINOUS #1, just underlines that just because an expert is out there, doesn’t mean they’re an expert.  There are some good career people and columns out there though that offer excellent career advice, and I’ll be bringing those up too.  It’s not all about ME!  LOL

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