non-traditional job interviewing advice

Following up with my previous post about non-traditional resume help, I had also given a few pointers to friends about interviewing. I’ve distilled them here:

  • In this economy, there are tons of people out looking for jobs and willing to take anything.  If you are a senior person, and you apply for a junior position, you probably won’t get the job.  Employers are savvy about this, and realize once the economy gets better, you’ll probably leave as soon as you can for a better paying job.
  • And you should, (if you got the job!)! Companies lay people off all the time; it’s a business decision. You and your family should be your number one business.  Think of it as a business decision that is good for you and your family!
  • Remember that the interview is for both involved parties. You should be interviewing your new company, boss, position, growth potential, quality of work/life balance, etc.  See how they treat you during the interview process.  Did they offer you bathroom breaks, sometime to drink or eat?
  • Are the people interviewing you qualified to assess your skills and/or qualifications?  If your hiring manager is not knowledgeable in your skill set, there will be some frustration around expectations.  I was recently asked to interview a candidate for a Cisco Network Engineer position.  I know nothing about the technology, I was brought in to evaluate the guy’s personality. But I was able to asses his ability to learn, lead, personality, and if he could get the job done if given what he needed.  I would not have been able to gauge his technical skills. I was upfront and honest about this.
  • If you get pre-screened by HR or the recruiters, they’ll ask you what you make now or what you made before. DO NOT give them a number until it comes down to an offer. If you give them a number, and it’s lower than the range for the position, they’ll give you that.  You can always say, “Before I give you a number, I want to learn more about the position. Until then, it’s hard for me to give a number that I think is appropriate…” or something along those lines.  If they press you for a number, I would give them a number around 10% above your current or last salary amount.  Don’t tell them, “I’d like to make, $XZY.”  Instead, make it a definite statement, “I am looking to make $XYZ!”
  • Remember, if you get an offer, to consider the total benefits package; vacation, sick time, work at home policy, breaks, insurances, etc, commute, along with the salary.  Work is not just about making a salary. It is also about these things, too.
  • Vacation is always a negotiation-able.  While HR says, “Nope, our standard policy is two weeks” you can always work out a deal with the hiring manager. Just get it in writing from them in case you move under a new boss or he moves out of their position.
  • Sometimes, a severance package is also something you can negotiate for.  “Since I was laid off at my last job where I was at for twelve years, I would feel more safe if some accommodations were made if I was to be let go within my first six months while I am here.”
  • When you get an offer, ALWAYS say, “Thank you.  I need 24 hours to think about it.” If they say, no, then you don’t want to work for them.  You do need to think over every offer and at least sleep on it and talk it over with the family.  Be sure to get back with them either way by the time you committed to.
  • Be prepared to ask questions or do the interview yourself.  Some people just aren’t good interviewers.  One guy I interviewed with when I was being interviewed was clearly uncomfortable so I began asking about his family, kids, etc and we talked for the whole hour about that sort of stuff.
  • This is a good one, but kind of scary.  When the interview is over, ask them if they have any reservations on hiring you. This might catch them off guard, but otherwise it will throw the door wide open for more discussion if there is any concerns. The interviewer might say, “Well, as a matter of fact, I am a little concerned about your lack of experience in XYZ…”  This gives you, as the interviewee, to specifically address this.  In this case, maybe you answer, “While I haven’t done XYZ, I have done ABC which is the same skill set…”  who knows.  But if this guy was worried and the interview ended and it never came up, it could hurt your chances when the other candidates are considered.

I hope you find these helpful.  These come from mypersonal experience as well as some other job finding groups I belong to.  If you have more ideas, I’d love to hear them!

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