GET THE OFFER
NOTE: One of the OKC boyz received
this from a recruiter when he was searching for a job. We thought this
makes a lot of sense and would be helpful to everyone! Thanx to Jim Grant
of National Engineering Search!
The goal of an interview is to just
get an offer. PERIOD. Make the decision whether to accept the offer once
you've received it. It sounds so simple. But it's also easy to do the wrong
thing and lose an offer that you'd otherwise get. All of these stories
A candidate interviewed for a position
that the manager needed to fill immediately. He was perfect for the position
and the manager liked him. The candidate had numerous technical questions
that the manager couldn't answer, so the manager invited him back for a
second interview, two days later, with a technical guru. This one went
even better. However, on the day between the two interviews, a former employee
called the manager, who invited him in for an interview. Though less qualified,
the former colleague got the job. Had the candidate not asked so many questions
in his first interview, he would have been offered the job on the spot
(and been given enough time after that to have his questions completely
Two equally qualified candidates
interviewed for the same position. The first candidate was asked if he
had written any device drivers using a certain protocol and answered, "No".
The second candidate was asked the same question and explained that although
he'd never written anything for that protocol, he had done extensive work
in other similar protocols and would easily be able to do the job. That
candidate received the offer because he understood what the manager was
looking for: someone who could get the job done.
A candidate went on an interview
knowing he had a two-week vacation outside the United States scheduled
for shortly after the position's planned start date. During his interview,
he concentrated on selling himself, gave examples of how he could do the
job, and let the manager know he was interested in the position. He received
a written offer in two days. At that point, he asked the manager if the
vacation would be a problem. The manager's reply? "Not at all!" Had he
discussed the vacation during the interview, he would have been unlikely
to receive an offer. People fixate on peripheral issues, losing sight of
An extremely well-qualified candidate
interviewed for a position. The manager was very impressed and was planning
to make him the highest paid member of his team. Before the manager could
prepare an offer, the candidate started asking questions about what he
would be working on five years into the future. After struggling for a
month to formulate an impressive five-year plan for the candidate, the
manager finally decided he couldn't offer a position with suitable challenge,
so he declined to make an offer. The candidate still wishes he'd gotten
the job. He doesn't realize how close he actually came.
By and large, engineers invited for
interviews are qualified for the positions. Yet, by raising trivial issues
during the interview, or by not focusing on what the interviewer is specifically
looking for, they disqualify themselves from getting the job. Avoid these
glaring mistakes and you'll increase your chances of receiving an offer.
National Engineering Search®
What does it take to be an outstanding
engineer? We have asked our clients this question for years, and received
thousands of responses. Four major attributes surfaced over and over:
1. Wide technical experience and
overall competence. 2. Confidence in his or her own abilities. 3. A willingness
to take calculated risks. 4. Quick logical thinking - when put on the spot,
to take all available information and formulate the best possible response
To execute point four, you must be
a conceptual thinker.
Conceptual thinking is the ability
to help a potential employer visualize how your skills will fit into and
contribute to their environment. Many people are good at following a deductive-reasoning
pattern, but if you understand something conceptually, it doesn't matter
where you come in, you can determine what's going on. You have to understand
your skills conceptually to be able to market them.
There are numerous approaches that
might work... but, over the years, we have identified and refined a technique
that works consistently. It involves understanding how to best represent
your skills and abilities. It has three parts:
Your primary objective is to understand
what they need from you. Take the time (at the beginning of the interview)
to determine what specific skills are required for the position... before
you explain your background.
This happens when he/she says "Tell
me about yourself?" In order to be successful, you want to extract as much
information as possible, and address issues they consider important. Respond:
"Before I do that, please tell me
about the area I would be working in, and most important, what type of
person do you need to successfully fill the position? Then I can address
specific areas you have interest in, relative to my own experience."
The interviewer will answer your
questions... and tell you everything you'll need to sell yourself. At this
point, the key is to listen and carefully evaluate the response.
Although uncovering the details of
the position is extremely important, there is one element that is often
overlooked... personality. It is frequently more important than any other
single factor. Interviewing is selling, and the candidate that interviews
(sells) best gets the offer. Period. Many candidates have received offers
when they were underqualified - but never one who wasn't liked.
HINT: Inspect the corporate
culture. When you have your onsite interview... reconnoiter. Even if you
can't blend into the woodwork, you can get a feel for the corporate culture
by asking the right questions. For instance, if the company works in teams,
ask for an example of a recent project: How was the team selected? How
were the tasks delegated?
As soon as you understand what makes
the interviewer tick, you are ready to proceed to the second stage... describing
your professional background. Remember: you want this description to address
the areas he/she already indicated interest in - because you asked.
The third stage is the most difficult
because you must ask a direct question:
"Based on our meeting, do you feel
I would be successful here?"
The reason this question seems difficult
to ask is that it invites criticism. Your natural instinct will be to avoid
rather than encourage criticism. It is critical to ask this question, because
if the interviewer has any lingering concerns, miscommunicated an issue
or missed addressing something of interest, you will never know until you
probe for it.
When you ask the question, he will
probably respond with: "I feel you are strong in most areas, but I'm really
concerned about..." You now have an excellent opening to address these
concerns, targeting specific areas for clarification.
If his/her concern is valid, draw
parallels to demonstrate your ability to adapt to their needs. Never attempt
to exaggerate experiences - it is better to reply by admitting that you
don't have "that" specific experience, but have gained experience in areas
of a similar nature or of equal complexity (use examples), and feel comfortable
in coming up to speed quickly. Managers agree that no single individual
will have every attribute they seek, and they default to the candidate
who they believe can make the transition successfully with the shortest
Everything up to this point is straight
forward and uncomplicated.
Determine what attributes will make
you successful. Explain your background emphasizing the skills he told
you he needed. Finally, at the conclusion of the interview, ask him if
he feels you would be successful.
Now the real secret...
You can do everything right up to
this point... and destroy your efforts if you mishandle the subject of
money. The key to this is simple: You don't want to become attached to
a specific amount, because once you do it can't be retracted. It's analogous
to the judge instructing the jury to "strike that last remark".
If you volunteer a number that is
low, you will talk yourself out of some money. If you select a number that
is high (or out of their salary guidelines), you will not receive an offer.
The last thing you want to do is
provide them with a range, because you will be aiming at the top and they
will migrate straight to the bottom. Instead, encourage them to prepare
the best offer they possibly can. To accomplish this, you articulate one
of the following (pick the most appropriate one based on your circumstances):
"I'm earning X dollars right now,
and am looking for something competitive based on that."
"I'm earning X dollars right now,
and am expecting a raise to Y within a month. I'm looking for something
competitive based on that."
"I'm earning X dollars right now,
and have an offer on the table for Y. I'm looking for something competitive
based on that."
Be prepared to use this during salary
It is very important that salary
information is consistant. I am often asked to provide current salary and
desired salary to the hiring company. Nothing can create concerns about
integrity more than different figures from different sources. We must discuss
this issue before the interview. You may have to include salary on the
employment application and you may be asked about salary during the interview.
Other key points to remember:
- Be confident/enthusiastic at all
times (never drop your guard).
- Maintain eye contact, smile and
- Speak briefly, answering questions
directly and positively... don't ramble or digress.
- Don't be opinionated. Repeat.
Don't be opinionated.
- Listen, listen, listen... understand
his/her thoughts completely before responding.
- Dress in a conservative manner
(white shirt, business suit)... even if you know they don't require it.
- Don't ever slam your current or
previous employer... even if they deserve it!
- Show interest in the position,
ask relevant questions. Probe.
- Don't dwell on peripheral issues
like vacation and benefits... once an offer is generated, it is time to
address these issues.
Don't ever make comments like (and
these are deal-killers taken from debriefing clients):
- "I want to be paid for weekends
if I spend time thinking about work"
- "I can commute from Cleveland to
here (Atlanta) for a few months..."
- "I feel I am grossly underpaid,
and I expect my next employer to correct this situation" (No one makes
up for the sins of past employers.)
- "When I leave my current employer,
they will probably fold"
-"(X location) is definitely not
my first choice, but I suppose I would consider it"
- "I don't know how your people
ever got a product out the door. I can change all that..."
- "I do consulting work on the side,
so it's important to me that I'm not out of town much"
- "I have some things in the pipeline
at my current employer, if they materialize I'll probably stay"
- "I'm just kicking tires right
now, I haven't made a firm commitment to leave (X company) yet"
- "I have to finish up a critical
project I'm working on... I could start in about three months"
One off-the-wall remark can destroy
any chance of an offer.
Some managers assume an adversarial
role during the interviewing process - to identify the uncommitted or squeamish,
people with low self confidence or individuals who will never be significant
contributors on a stand-alone basis. Questions like: "Does it intimidate
you to know that we have had 8 engineers come and go in the past five years?",
"You seem to be working in a low pressure environment... with not much
personal accountability. Do you think you could really fit in here?" or
"You don't seem to have the depth of experience we need, wouldn't you agree?"
These are worst cases... but be prepared
to have someone become deliberately adversarial.
Managers put people on the spot because
they want to determine if they have convictions, can be easily intimidated,
and to test their willingness to defend their past decisions and accomplishments.
They believe that this type of interview identifies the best and the brightest.
They are asking to be persuaded that they are speaking with the person
who will positively impact their immediate and future plans.
A VP at a Fortune 100 summed it up
recently: "You either believe in yourself or you don't. Successful engineers
believe in themselves... and will not be intimidated. They understand internal
and external business issues... they know what drives their company. They
Have a spouse or friend interview
you (with a list of anticipated questions), and critique your responses
for content, sincerity and overall presentation. Instruct them to provide
both positive and negative feedback, so that you can fine tune your presentation.
Ask them to watch for uncomfortable body language.
An important objective that you must
never lose sight of... you are there to obtain an offer. Even if the description
doesn't sound that appealing, you should sell yourself thoroughly, because
total scope and responsibilities can (and usually do) change after you
have convinced them that you're the benchmark.
Before you leave, find out what the
next step is in their hiring cycle. When can you expect to hear from them?
Do they need anything from you? Make it clear that you are interested in
the opportunity. Never assume that they think you are.
A manager is not going to use his
time preparing an offer if he thinks it will be declined. You don't get
another chance - reconfirm your interest and availability.
Small talk can be very important
as part of the bonding process, but even use this time to uncover additional
intelligence or provide one last fact - that will help them make an informed
decision to extend an offer.
You can't retract anything you do
or say in the interview... it is absolutely cast in stone. You want them
to remember significant positive information that will result in an offer.
National Engineering Search
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