A. THE RISKS|
D. EFFECTIVE INTERVIEWS
E. IF NO IMMEDIATE JOB IS AVAILABLE
F. FOLLOW UP
G. SALARY NEGOTIATIONS
H. THE JOB OFFER
The main source for this section is Hire Power, by Irv Zukerman (1993)
We tend to think only of our own nervousness in job interviews, but most interviewers are not trained and have a significant stake in finding the right individual for the job. A wrong decision can result in lost profit, lowered morale, and valuable time.
An attack of nerves is normal. After all, this is an important
event in your life. The section on preparation will help reduce
this unpleasant aspect. If the interview is with a Contact, you
have a significant inside track because you have met before. Your
contact already feels comfortable with you and knows you meet
most if not all the job criteria.
1. For You
The risks for you are Rejection, Indecision, Self-Doubt and, Knocking the Opportunity.
Rejection, particularly if it is one of a series of rejections you've had lately, can be the worst. Sure, it's nothing personal. The form letter will explain that there were others who seemed more qualified and that your resume will he kept on file.
Indecision is part of the inevitable playback that follows rejection. It begins during the elevator ride after the interview when you begin to assess how you made out. When the promised time for a callback slips by, that indecision becomes magnified. Should you call the Decision-Maker? Would that be considered "pushy?' Should you continue to look for a job elsewhere? Then, what happens if this one (the one you really want) comes through?
Self-doubt sets in. Are you really as good as you think you are? Do you have all that much to offer to a potential employer? In its most advanced stage, self-doubt can lead you to wonder if you were cut out for this line of work in the first place. And all because the interview didn't go your way!
So, to defend yourself, you begin to Knock the Opportunity. It wasn't such a good job after all. The commute is terrible. The neighborhood? Worse. The job itself--a dead end. And boring. And who, in his or her right mind, would want to work for that Decision-Maker? Not being chosen was the best thing that could have happened to you. (Hold on a minute--was that the phone?)
The Decision-Maker is looking for the right person to fill the job. That person, once hired, could brighten his/her future by taking on a share of the workload, by helping to improve productivity, and might even facilitate a promotion for the Decision-Maker!
But the Decision-Maker's risks are Responsibility, Insecurity, Self-image, and Knowledge of Everything but How to Interview. Responsibility is something that everybody has to somebody. This is never more true than when a Decision-Maker is choosing an addition to the staff. Responsibility to superiors for the quality of the decision is pretty obvious. Then there is responsibility to those within the organization who feel they should have the opportunity and have applied for the job. Dissension could spread the message that the Decision-Maker isn't much of a manager.
Which is where Indecision rears its ugly head. Does the Decision-Maker take the safe route and hire someone within the profile recommended by management or someone with a personal recommendation, if available? For now there appears to be more concern with how you make the organization look today than how you can help it to look in the future. That's why Knowledge of Everything but How to Interview is such a handicap in making the most productive choice. Decision-Makers rarely consider interviewing a skill requiring training, thus the likelihood is that both you and the interviewer will be amateurs.
How can you tell? The biggest giveaway is when the interviewer's
first question is, "Tell me about yourself." A whole
section is given below on how to get the most from job interviews.
Remember: you are both at risk and you both have things you want
to accomplish in the interview.
Everything you have done to this point has been aimed at getting
the interview. The important thing now is to turn the interview
into a job offer. An interview is a business meeting with a specific
purpose. As in any other business meeting, the participants have
their own view of the agenda.
The overall agenda is to explore a fit between the experience and abilities of the candidate and the present or future needs of the company.
While directly related job skills are usually obvious and relatively easy for you to demonstrate and the interviewer to determine, many hiring decisions, especially at senior levels, are based more on the following intangible areas:
|CHEMISTRY:||Will it be right between the prospect and future boss, peers and subordinates?|
|SUBJECTIVE:||The interviewer's judgment will be based on how well the prospect meets expectations in terms of personality, warmth, appearance, dress, manner, attitude. First impressions are very important|
|VALUE SYSTEM:||Are the candidate's values compatible with the value system of the organization? Information sought deals with character, integrity, ethics and management style.|
|INTELLECTUAL EFFECTIVENESS:||This involves ability, creativity, and originality as well as efficiency. perception, conceptual ability, and the ability to assess problems.|
|EXPERIENCE:||Does the prospect have the requisite job knowledge and experience for the present and future job. Questions will deal with depth and breadth of job knowledge and experience, education and special training.|
|MOTIVATION:||The questions and evaluation process will deal with the factors of energy, drive, competitiveness, self-starting qualities to handle pressure and personal objectives.|
|LEADERSHIP:||Is there ability to select, motivate, direct and develop others. The factors include interpersonal skills, empathy, decisiveness, initiative, sense of direction, management style, ability to get thing's done.|
|GOOD TEAM WORKER:||The questions deal with how the prospect would function as the leader or part of a team. They include interpersonal skills, personal and management style.|
|PERSONALITY:||The sum of all personal qualities, including the ability to get along with others, attitude, acceptance, confidence, tact, and humour. The interviewer's judgment will be affected by first impressions and also the responses to questions.|
|MATURITY/JUDGMENT:||The interviewer will be seeking to determine whether the prospect acts in a mature fashion, exercises sound judgment in both his/her personal and work life and has the emotional stability to handle leadership pressures.|
|COMMUNICATIONS SKILLS:||The ability to articulate well organized thoughts clearly and concisely, orally and in writing. The interview process, in itself, is a test of oral communication. Is the candidate clear, concise and well organized in his/her thought processes?|
You would rarely attend a key business meeting without considerable thought and preparation. Successful interviews result from similar careful preparation.
Try to get information on the company before the interview through reading and your contacts. Worksheet #21 provides an Interview Planning Form as a summary of information about the company that you want to remember going into an interview. Every job interview is unique, so the worksheet also helps you work out an approach to the specific job vacancy.
Relying on the interviewer's questions to prompt you is a poor idea since few hiring managers are skillful interviewers. You will impress better if you show your clear thinking by being able to present the relevant information without prodding.
However, some interviewers have a list of prepared questions and are unwilling to deviate. You should be prepared to give good answers to common questions. Appendix G includes many frequently asked questions. Take this appendix with you to review before interviews. Such preparation greatly reduces nervousness.
Studies show that most hiring decisions are made in the first five minutes of the interview. Obviously the interviewer hasn't had time to thoroughly explore your qualifications, but five minutes is long enough to gain a positive or negative impression based on appearance, speech, attitude, and composure.
The central idea is to reduce the level of risk for both parties involved in the interview. Remember some compromise on both sides will be necessary.
The most usual opening question, "Tell me about yourself." usually has you floundering as you try to read the interviewer's mind as to what is important. Imagine instead:
You: (Opening your case and taking out your neatly arranged corer letter; resume, and yellow legal-size pad.) Thank you for taking the time to see me, Mr. Deems. As I explained in the material I sent you, the after market industry may have a particular need for the kind of timely, accurate data flow I can achieve--like the branch reporting program I designed that helped to improve productivity by twenty-five percent. But to make sure, may I ask just one question?
As you already know, the best way to start a conversation that reduces stress is to ask a question that is easy to answer. The best way to reduce the stress on yourself is to rehearse what you are going to say and do until you at least appear confident and relaxed. Since the Decision-Maker knows the criteria by which he/she will select the person for this job and you wish to know them, a natural, stress-lowering question would be:
You: By what criteria will you select the person for this job?
Sound familiar? It should. It's just a slight variation on the question you asked for information interviews.
Once again, you've asked a question about a topic with which the Decision-Maker should be comfortable. By doing so, you've reduced the stress. And when you reduce the stress of a job interview you reduce the R-I-S-K factor.
Here's where you might get a little nervous. Taking notes during a CONTACT CONVERSATION is OK because you're doing research and would be expected to record the information. But at a JOB INTERVIEW? This is the one for all the marbles. Why take notes here? And suppose the Decision-Maker doesn't welcome the idea of someone taking notes?
To note or not to note is easily decided. Simply ask, "Do you mind if I take notes?"
There are three basic ways;
Suppose you were on top of every criterion with one exception. You were not familiar with desk-top publishing. You recognized the names of the programs but that was the extent of your expertise. You have a choice. You can confess and throw yourself on the mercy of the court;
You: I'm sorry but when it comes to desk-top publishing, about all I know is the names of the programs you mentioned.
Or, you can convert your "can't do" into an opportunity to negotiate. This means that after a series of S-H-O-R-T presentations of all the criteria you could meet, you'd make an offer:
You: Another criteria on your list is FAMILIAR WITH DESK-TOP PUBLISHING. From what you've learned about me so far how long do you think it would take a person with my skills to master desk-top publishing?
Where does the offer come in? It depends on the Decision-Maker's answer. For example, suppose the response is that all you would have to know about desk-top would be enough to edit the work of others, and that you could pick it up in a few weeks.
No offer necessary. In fact, the criterion you could not meet has been reduced in weight. The balance is easier to attain. But suppose the answer made the criterion a heavy one requiring an extensive learning curve--even for a fast learner like you. You'd have to make an offer:
You: Suppose, for the three months you feel it would take for me to get up to speed, we negotiate a lower starting salary. Then, after I have mastered the system, we could review it. OK?
The Decision-Maker who is interested in buying the most skills for the least money would find that an attractive offer. He might insist that your learning be done on your own time so that it does not interfere with your other responsibilities. He might insist you take outside training which requires that you pay a tuition. Whatever the case, most everything is negotiable.
A: There are a number of possibilities. If the person is the screener; he or she may be responding to the "will you select" phrase in your question. That is, they know the criteria by which you make it to the Decision-Maker, but they don't know the deciding criteria because they won't be making the decision. If that happens, it's perfectly proper to amend the question to determine by what criteria people will be selected for the short list.
Another possible response is that only the Decision-Maker (generally, there's a name here--make a note of it) can answer that question. This is your opportunity to either ask what criteria will decide who gets on the short list or to ask for the opportunity to get the criteria on which the final decision will rest directly from the Decision-Maker.
Q: What if the Decision-Maker refuses to answer the question? Suppose the Decision-Maker says that he or she wishes to ask the questions--not listen to yours, and then you get the tell me about yourself routine?
A: You have a choice here. Remember, this is not a contest of wills with the Decision-Maker. You could take a moment to explain why you're asking the question:
You: I'm sorry. Perhaps I failed to make dear why I was asking that question. It was to help us both.. If you tell me your criteria, you will be sure to get all the information about my background that you need. And I will be sure to cover all the essential points.
Or you could forget all your efforts up to this point and take the chance that telling about yourself would be on target. It's your call.
Q: What if there's more than one Decision-Maker and you have to go from interview to interview as you move up the ladder? Do you ask each Decision-Maker the same question about their criteria?
A: Yes. But you let them know the results of the previous interview:
You; When I met with Mr. Deems, he was kind enough to explain the job in terms the following criteria. (Review your notes briefly) Is there anything you feet should be added?
At this point, Decision-Maker #2 could choose to approve the list or add a few thoughts of his/her own. In case of the latter, you would add them to your list. Some of them may be in need of further definition, so you ask for more information. When that's done, you're ready to tell about yourself in terms of your updated list of criteria.
Q: What if the criteria have already been established by the ad or the headhunter? How could you ask about something you already know?
A: You can count on there being more criteria than fit into an ad or head-hunter's outline. At the start of the interview, your yellow legal-size pad would already have a listing (block printed with the necessary space intervals, of course) of the criteria you know about. Then it's just a matter of adding the other criteria:
You: According to your ad (agency), the job calls for the following criteria. (Review your notes.) Is there anything you feel should be added?
Q: What is the reason for leaving the right-hand side of the pad blank?
A: The right-hand side of the pad is your control area. You use it to make sure you've covered each criterion by placing a check mark next to it as you begin. This will encourage you to refer to your notes and thereby keep the conversation on track.
If time permits, or you know some criteria from an ad, you can also use the right side to remind you of the points to mention in your SHORT presentation.
You also use the right-hand side to note any further reaction
to your presentation. For example, your question to test the effectiveness
of your presentation may generate more than an approval. You may
hear additional details about that phase of the job. Note them.
Or, you may hear a correction of your impression of the job. Note
it. The more you know about the job, the better your chance of
NO IMMEDIATE JOB IS AVAILABLE
If the interviewer says that no positions are available at this time or that you are not qualified for the available job, ask about job leads at other places. Write down the name and address of the company as well as the name and the telephone number of the person you should contact. Obtain as many of these leads as you can. The interviewer will have become fairly familiar with your skills and will usually be able and very willing to tell you about other job possibilities.
Tell the interviewer you would be interested in a part-time job if no jobs are available. Part-time jobs often develop into full-time jobs in a short period.
Before you leave, tell the interviewer you would like to call in a few days to learn of the decision. By calling back, you will make certain that you have not missed out on a job because of some unforeseen problem in contacting you. Ask when it would be convenient for you to call back. Also, if the employer has narrowed the choice down to a small number of equally qualified applicants, your call may well result in your being chosen rather than the others. If you learn during your call back that you were not chosen, you can still use that opportunity to ask for other job leads. As you leave, be sure to thank the interviewer and repeat your desire to hear from him/her soon. Make sure you smile. Have good eye contact, shake his/her hand, and tell him/her you enjoyed your interview.
Activity Twenty-eight - Conducting a Job Interview
Get together with members of your support group and role play job interviews with a variety of types of interviewers: easy, tough, helpful, terse. Prepare yourself for any contingency.
Check off this activity on your summary.
Every job interview deserves a follow up letter, fax or e-mail. Get it to the interviewer with no more than a two day delay. The following is an example letter:
|Mr. Ted Deems|
Aftermarket Conglomerates, Inc.
12 Industrial Way
Dear Mr. Deems:
This morning's discussion gave me a very positive view of the work I'd be doing at ACI. I hope your reaction was equally positive and that you are convinced I'm the right person for the job.
Enclosed are photocopies of the notes I made during our conversation. They may serve as a reminder of the key points we covered. As I understand it, the most challenging part of the job would be:
From your response to my questions, I believe I explained how my skills match what you are looking for. Do you have all you need?
[If a call-back date was not agreed upon at the interview.] I would welcome further discussion to provide any other information you might require in order to confirm your decision, or to happily accept the position and clear the decks for a fast start. Would Thursday be convenient? I'll call your secretary to confirm the time.
Thank you again for the opportunity.
A follow-up letter or thank you letter after every meeting or interview serves two purposes. It keeps your name, qualifications and candidacy in the forefront. It also provides another opportunity for you to sell yourself.
The letter should mention the necessary qualifications that the employer had mentioned. Show genuine interest in the organization and the position. Emphasize some of your expertise which will apply to the position. Suggest you would like to continue discussions and will follow-up with a phone call. Additional interviews may be required before you convince the Decision-Maker that you are right person, so take the initiative and offer to meet again.
When you don't get a job, especially one you really wanted, it's natural to be depressed. But consider the process a dress rehearsal. Where one door closes, another opens. The important thing is to gain from the experience. If the interviewer phones you the bad news, ask some questions, such as:
And, of course, always ask for other leads:
I gained a great deal of information during our conversation, but obviously I need more preparation. Is there anyone you know to whom I should talk? Of course, I won't use your name without your permission.
If you are notified by mail, put these same points in a letter, ending with:
Would you prefer to write me, or would it be easier to talk on
the phone. I'll call you in a few days to find out.
Thanks again for your courtesy and understanding.
Before you can evaluate a salary offer, you must know two vital pieces of information:
Each employer has its own policy regarding wages. A union environment is the strictest and there is seldom any room for negotiation unless your qualifications can place you higher than the starting point on a salary grid. On the other hand, union rates are no secret, so you never wonder if someone else is getting more for the same job. Companies with nationwide or international branches often allow the local offices some leeway in hiring ranges. Small companies often try to get the most for their money and may even make the final decision based on who will accept the lowest wage. Generally speaking, the higher the education and experience level of the job, the more opportunity for salary negotiation.
If you can avoid it, never discuss salary until the end of the interview process, after they have definitely said they want you. If you are asked earlier, you might respond with a diplomatic attempt to postpone the question:
You: I'll gladly discuss that, but could you first help me to understand what the job involves?
If that doesn't work or is inappropriate, answer with a range, not a single figure. Your research should indicate the industry range for the job, so your answer should be at the top end of the range. Typically, the interviewer will be forthright enough to indicate whether or not you are in the ball park. Watch closely for body language that can give clues as how appropriate your answer was. If the interviewer demands a single figure and guffaws when you give it, chances are the interview will wrap up quickly. If you still think you want to work for that company, be bold enough to ask what the employer thinks the job is worth and indicate a willingness to negotiate.
Whenever the question does arise, if you can avoid it, don't be the first to mention a figure. This can be very difficult, but well worth it in the end. The best strategy is to jokingly throw the ball back into the interviewer's court.
You: Well, you created the position, so you must have a figure in mind, and I'd be interested in knowing what that is.
If they've decided they want you, this statement can be pulled off with a smile and a twinkle in your eye. If the interviewer is honest with you, there should be no need to disguise the fact that you are now in the middle of a negotiation, a form of human combat with its own peculiar rules. The first rule is that they give their lowest figure first and you give your highest. If either party jumps at the first figure mentioned, the other party usually kicks himself, thinking he could have gotten a better deal. For both to feel satisfied, a middle figure must be reached. Assuming you successfully hold out and they make an offer first, there are a number of possible scenarios:
|Their Offer||Your Possible Response|
|Beyond your wildest dreams||Pause for a moment, and say, "That's very fair. Would you consider $_____?" (mention a figure a little higher, perhaps only $500)|
|About what you expected||Again, pause, nod and say, "I feel I bring a special set of skills to the position. Would you consider $_____?" Ask for a few thousand more.|
|Disappointing||"Well, my industry research and evaluation of the skills I bring to the job indicate that $______ would be more in line."|
|Beyond your wildest dreams||"I think that's very generous. I look forward to working with you."|
|About what you expected||"I think we've reached a fair compromise. I look forward to working with you."|
|Disappointing||"That's less than I expected, but I realize that I have to prove myself. When could I expect the first salary review?" You have not committed yourself at this point, but are seeking additional information. You may even ask to sleep on it so you have an opportunity to think it over and discuss the offer with your support group.|
Congratulations!! All your hard work has finally paid off. You have a job offer but before you accept an offer, review your career goals and the materials you used to create your resume. Does this offer meet all your needs? Does it satisfy enough of your goals to make it worthwhile. If it does, go for it. If it doesn't, hard as it may seem, you should probably not accept it. You are likely to be looking again in a short period of time. You don't want to have the reputation as a "job hopper."
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