Missing the point could cover a lot of things, but this month it means considering different perspectives during an interview. Employers and candidates can get trapped into looking at things from just one side. Employers are thinking: What skills and abilities do I need in a candidate, does this candidate have them, how much money do they need, and when can they start? Candidate are thinking: What are the job duties, what are the benefits, is this the best company for me, will I like working here, how much can I make now and in the future, and is there advancement potential? Usually, the candidate listens to the employer, answers questions, and forgets or is too intimidated to ask important questions, fearing it could cost them an offer. Employers are just trying to determine if the candidate fits, along with managing their regular job. Employers may seem rushed, distracted, and a little impersonal. Understandably so, but it can still kill an interview.
To be fair, the interview process isn’t that simple. Typically, candidates are seeking an improvement, be that compensation, benefits, advancement, or environment. Employers want the job done right, with minimum drama, at a rate that fits their current staff compensation spread and budget. When things go wrong, it usually means that one side of the equation wasn’t listening, or worse wasn’t being forthcoming and honest.
The biggest risk of failure when interviewing comes from talking about money. Employers don’t want to talk compensation until they know what the candidate can do for them. Employers are not just looking at pay rate, they are thinking about training and possibly relocation costs. They may even be calculating the cost of a recruiter. So bringing up compensation too soon could leave money on the table or risk not getting an offer.
The candidate is thinking about their financial needs, the difficulties of making a change, especially if relocation is involved, and fear of making a mistake. Candidates can feel vulnerable in an interview, especially if they haven’t changed jobs recently and don’t know what to expect. To make candidates comfortable, employers should spell out the interview goals, schedule the time and place in advance, list the names of people to whom they will be talking, and leave compensation discussions until after determining if this is the right fit. If this person is the right fit for the needs of the job and company, then it’s time to negotiate to an equitable package.
To be successful, both sides need to talk openly about their needs and concerns, and commit to working together to resolve differences, before and after hiring. Bottom line, employers: if you want to hire the candidate, listen to their goals and then explain how they can accomplish their goals at your company. Candidates: if you want the job, ask for it!