Dear J.T. & Dale: I’m interviewing for a job, and the recruiter shared what to expect in the interview process. They sent me the following, and I’m curious if this is now part of the standard process:
“Functional exercise or assessment (role dependent): We often present candidates with a job-related task or work simulation to help us understand functional knowledge and problem-solving approach. This could be anything from an analytics assessment, written assessment, or portfolio review. If you completed an exercise, you might be asked to do a presentation.”
Is it expected to be assessed in this fashion before one is even doing the job? Thoughts? — Ryan
J.T.: This is actually not uncommon. They are making sure you can hit the ground running and integrate into the team. It’s also a way to weed out anyone who doesn’t want to make the effort. Now, if they gave you a project that was going to take 10-plus hours to complete on your own time, then I would say to them that this is more than you expected and wanted to know how this might be used by the company should you not get the job. That’s a polite way of pointing out that you don’t want to give away your expertise.
DALE: When I’ve interviewed great bosses, one common denominator is their cunning in finding talent for their teams. They do this by identifying and courting prospective employees, ones they spot in other departments or companies. One reason for doing so is that job interviews are a terrible way to make hiring decisions — they consist of two people playing parts in a bit of theater that has little to do with the actual work. I’ve summed up my advice on hiring as, “See the work. See the work. See the work.” Some executives have tried to game this process by recreating work situations in the job interview. So, the positive way to look at your upcoming meeting: “This company really cares about hiring quality employees, and I’m glad they do, because I want to maximize the odds of this being a great fit for the company and for me.” On the other hand, we’ve heard ugly stories of companies exploiting interviewees for their ideas (or the ideas of their current employers) and then not hiring anyone. By doing some networking, it should be easy to figure out which it is. Let’s hope it’s a company worth your effort.
Dear J.T. & Dale: Recently, I learned that you can push base pay during the negotiation and request a sign-on bonus. What’s the best strategy for this? — Emma
J.T.: Yes, as long as the company hasn’t flat-out said in the interview process that the salary is non-negotiable, you can ask for more. And if they say they can’t offer a higher salary, they may offer a sign-on bonus. My advice is to ask for the salary first. If they say no, then ask if they have room to offer a sign-on bonus, perhaps as a way to make up for any lost compensation you may experience as part of the transition to their role. (For example, if you are due some bonus pay work that you will lose out on in taking this job, they could offer a sign-on bonus as a way to offset that loss.) Lastly, try to ask in person or over the phone so they can hear the sincerity in your voice. Negotiating by email can sometimes come across wrong.
DALE: If this job is so good that you don’t want to take any risk of offending the people hiring you, then put the blame on us. Simply say, “I’m so excited to start the job, but I’ve been advised [by us] that I should negotiate the salary. Is that true?” Here they will probably smile and say, yes, they expect that. This puts you two on the same team, and you work the numbers together. Then again, they might say no; however, nothing is lost, as they can’t be upset by your innocent question.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2022 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.