Time to rethink your #interview strategy?
Job openings in the U.S. climbed in September to the second-highest on record, a sign the labor market continues to strengthen. The economy is recovering and the job market hasn’t been this good since 2000, which means it’s a candidate’s market—employers are having a harder time finding the right talent in many industries—and if you’re the right talent, you have your pick of companies. Time to rethink your interview strategy? It is.
Interviewing for a new job is like dating. You put your best outfit on and your best foot forward, and you try to show off your best side. Sometimes there’s instant attraction. Sometimes you have to work a little harder. But, also like dating, it’s really important to hide your desperation. You could be their dream employee, but if you come off desperate, they’re going swipe left and lose your résumé. Some key things to remember in an interview:
- You’re not looking for a job. You’re “investigating your options.”
- You want them to like you more than you like them (or at least, make it appear that way).
- Never act like you need the job. They need you.
- Be prepared—research the #company beforehand and drop a few comments here and there to show that you’ve done the work (“I really admire the acquisition you pulled off last year; I’ll bet that was great for your bottom line”). Flattery does work, in dating and in business, but try not to sound like you’re a smooth operator. Your compliments should be sincere.
- Before your date (interview), take some time to think about how your skills and talents can contribute to Company Right. Whether they ask during the interview or not, it will help you assess if Company Right is the right company for you.
- You don’t have to fall in love with the company right away, but allow them to sell themselves. Ask questions about benefits, frequency of performance reviews and raises, perks, and so on. If it seems a little cold and calculating, that’s because it is. If you want to make more money, you have to establish your expectations on the first date. Err, interview.
- Be willing to turn it down. Your interview went well, you think the job might be for you, but the #salary is not only less than what you’re making now, it’s also lower than industry average (because you looked it up online first). No matter how poor the job market, you have to be willing and able to tell Company Right that they just offered you a Salary Wrong. The nicest way to do this (and the easiest) is to simply say, “I appreciate the offer and I would certainly love to commit, but I was thinking more along the lines of $[ballpark figure]. Is there room to #negotiate?” And then be quiet. Say no more. Offer no concessions. Don’t tell them you’ll meet them in the middle. WAIT and see what they come up with next. If it isn’t a counteroffer (or an offer to call you back after they find out if there is any wiggle room), then thank them kindly and move on to the next company. Accepting a job with a company that isn’t willing to compensate you according to industry standards is a bad idea, and could be a warning that there will be more trouble down the road (kind of like the guy/gal you go on a date with who gets up to use the restroom when the check arrives).
Not sure where to start researching what you’re worth? The U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop.org web site has a salary information search with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Payscale.com has a salary calculator that lets you search for salaries based on job title and city/state.