The Entrepreneur Life

Tag: Job interview

3 Tips to Handling the Job Offer Call Well

photo: Monstera via Pexels

Companies are beginning to hire interview folks at rates approaching pre-pandemic levels. So I have ever more young people reaching out to me for advice. They are coping with a range of emotions—adrenalin from upcoming or just completed interviews, fatigue from too many interviews, depression that they may never land a job and anticipation and fear as they await a response.

Even as I learn to be a better listener, the caller usually expects me to provide them with some pointers or tips. These tips obviously vary with the individual, where they are in their I-need-a-job journey. In this post I’ll focus on a situation that I seem to encounter with greater frequency as spring approaches—that of a recruiter or hiring manager calling about their decision.

Here are three tips (and a bonus) to handling this call or meeting in a manner that at best makes you feel good or at worst avoids regret & recrimination.

#1 Be clear What is it you want—not just in terms of salary, job role/title, benefits/perks but culture, location, timings etc. Which of these are non-negotiable and when would you decline, negotiate for better or accept the offer?

#2 Be realistic The call may not be a job offer, but a request for further information or meeting. It may even be a polite decline. Even when it is an offer, it may be one of three possibilities

  • A disappointing offer in terms of the salary, job title, benefits or others terms
  • A good offer as in it meets your expectations, one that you’d say yes to
  • A great offer – it exceeds your expectations in one or more dimensions. Heck ya!

#3 Be prepared Plan for what your response would be to each of the above scenarios. Prepare a short scripts for each scenario. The intent of the scripts is NOT respond unthinkingly, but to avoid reacting by letting your emotions do the talking. Scripts could be as simple as:

[for a decline] “I’m sorry to hear that, appreciate your letting me know. “I’ve enjoyed interviewing with you and hope to stay in touch.” “Can you help me understand the rationale for your decision?” (in case they didn’t give you one) and “Do you have any feedback for what I could have done better or differently.”

[for an offer that falls short] “Thank you. I truly appreciate the offer and must be honest that I’m disappointed with the number (or terms). Can you help me understand your rationale for the money (or terms). I need to really think about it. Can I get back to you by [day]?” (usually a day or three)? [add.] Meanwhile here are some clarifying questions I have [terms & conditions, expenses, raises, travel etc.]

Even the best job offer is not a marriage proposal. Much as you want to scream Yes! on the phone, you’ll be happier if you take an hour or a day so that you don’t second guess yourself!

[for a good or even great offer] “Thank you – I’m so excited about this opportunity and appreciate your offer. Just to make sure I heard you right, here’s what I understand your offer is – [restate]; Here are some questions: When do you need an answer from me? Excited as I’m about this, I need to a day or two to: [pick 1]
• discuss this with my spouse/dad/family once I get this in writing
• sleep on it and I’m sure soon as we hang up I’ll have questions

Write back After you hang up the phone, or read their emailed offer, drop them a note, acknowledging the call or email, thanking them and re-stating whichever script you verbally delivered. This is not only good manners, but a great way to both express your interest and minimize any misunderstandings. Set expectations and always be polite. Don’t ghost them!

Happy hunting!

4 Hacks to Handling an Interview Panel Well

Interview PanelOne of the joys of being around entrepreneurs and academicians is that you get pulled in to interview folks – in person, on the phone or Skype, and sometimes as part of a panel. This last weekend, I was part of one such interview panel – where nearly six senior candidates who’d been shortlisted were interviewed. Three things struck me about the experience

  • How vastly different approaches the various candidates brought to the interview process
  • Even the senior candidates made some of the same rookie mistakes that you expect only younger ones to make
  • How we, as the interview panel, could have done things better (that’s a whole another post)

Ask questions – In this particular panel, the thing that stood out the most for me, was how few questions the interviewees had for us as a panel. Sure they’d spoken to the hiring manager over the phone prior to the interview, but given the panel had veto power (did they know that?) it would have been better for them to ask more questions. While this is true even for 1:1 interviews, with a panel it’s important to understand what different people in the panel expect both of the role that you’re interviewing for and of the interview process itself. This will make sure you are neither blind-sided nor leave something unaddressed. Even more importantly your questions often will say a lot more about your than your answers.

Be specific A panel, with the very fact there are more than three people (ours had five), can easily get bogged down when it comes to decision-making. So it’s very important for you to be very specific with both your answers to their questions and even with your own questions. This allows you to stand out as a candidate. This requires you to avoid generalities – such as “I have strong networks in the community” and you’d be better of with specifics such as “I was able to recruit six mentors from the community in my first three months on the job. And these folks served with us on average for two years.” Balance the desire to be specific with the need to be concise – not always easy, but with practice can be done.

Be concise If you are like me (poor you!) the temptation is great to jump right in, when a question is posed. All too often, I get excited about the topic – which is usually why I’m there – and begin talking or responding.  Two tips to being concise – clarify what is being sought and validate whether you’ve answered their question. We make assumptions that may just not be correct – it is better to clarify before attempting to answer. In our specific job search, we wanted the candidate to make his organization, financially independent at some point. One candidate anxious that this was important to us focused on becoming self-sufficient within two years – which meant she recommended doing a lot of things, not central to the business, just to generate revenues. Clarifying the timeline over which the panel expected the organization to be self-sufficient could have easily avoided this.

Demonstrate Interest Many interview candidates assume that they are demonstrating interest by showing up. Why else would they be there? However, while showing up is necessary it is definitely not enough to show your interest in the job. The most attractive candidate – going by their resume and phone screen – turned out to be lowest ranked in our panel, due to the utter lack of energy and interest demonstrated by his body language and cadence during the panel interview. Most organizations are looking to hire people with energy and a good deal of motivation to make things happen. Sure they want to know and prefer you’ve done it before but are you willing and ready to do it and more, again? So it’s important to demonstrate interest – which of course asking questions, clarifying and engaging will all help you.

Not surprisingly most of these tips are useful for 1:1 interviews. However, it’s both easier to develop rapport in 1:1 interviews as well as recover from mistakes, with a little honesty and self-deprecation. Even the best of candidates can be undone with a panel, if there’s either non-alignment on the other side of the table or you don’t address the primary careabouts for the key decision makers on a panel. Share your own experiences interviewing with panels and what’s worked for you. Good luck!

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