Job interview & process question

I have been a member of a military for the previous 30 years and working in a specialty field for the last 15. A week ago, completely out of the blue, I got a phone call at my office from someone who does my kind of work in a civilian company, saying that my name had been referred to them as a possible candidate. The company concerned is a world leader in its field and this job would present an almost unbelievable professional opportunity and challenge as well as a significant quality of life enhancement - in other words an ideal situation at the right time in my life offered to me on a platter (assuming it happens).

I was asked to email my resume, which I did, and two days later I got a phone call from a company HR rep wanting to know if I was interested and then offering a phone interview with same HR rep and my potential boss next week.

My question is, assuming that the interview is successful, how does the process work after that point - from a contract negotiating standpoint etc? Are they likely to email me a contract to review and discuss by telephone or would they fly me to the location for that stage of things etc? I would appreciate any insight to this and any number of things that I probably haven’t even considered.

I’m not asking for prophecies here but I assume someone out there is an HR type who actually does this function and I would be curious to hear what the different methodologies are for this sort of thing.
Thank you very much

I have had a lot of phone interviews and almost always they will fly you out for an interview. One job however, offered me the job sight unseen. They should pay for you to fly out and put you up at a hotel for the night.

Sometimes though a job will fly you in and out in one day. I had a job interview in NYC and Columbus, OH where they flew me in and out the same day. I hate that as I’m not a great flyer and I’m nervous enough without the pressure of a job interview an hour after you land.

I had one job interview that just dragged out. It was three phone interviews, then they wanted to fly me out to Dallas, to meet the regional controller. Then all of a sudden, he decided HE wanted a trip to Chicago, so he flew here to meet me. Then I went to meet the GM of a hotel they owned in Milwaukee (they paid for the train to and from Milwaukee). Then they flew me to San Francisco.

I didn’t get any of those jobs, so don’t get the idea that once the pay to fly you out, the job is pretty much yours. Last year alone, I was flown out to six different places at company expense, and given meals and put up at nice hotels. And never got any of those jobs.

In fact I’m trying to look at this very pragmatically and am trying not to get my hopes up too much. That said, however, I’m fortunate enough to be in a well paying job great office, great people, but current job is a bad fit) with great benefits so if nothing comes of it life will continue to plug along in a good fashion as though nothing had ever happened.

The best piece of advice to give you is this, get your references in order NOW.

What I mean is make sure you have at least three references, at least one personal and one business. And make sure they are willing to talk to the H/R person. Make sure they will be available or call the H/R person back ASAP.

I have had people call me back and say, “Mark your reference didn’t call me back.” That’s not good. I realize people are super busy and they’ve been helping me for so long it gets tiresome but that can be a real problem.

So get that in order.

Once you do that, prepare a cheat sheet for your phone interview. Write down what you do for a living, your goals etc. Remember on a phone people can’t see you so EVERYTHING you say, will mean so much more than face to face.

The phone interview is most likely just a first step.

Practice practice practice. Think up the likely questions and reherse your answers out loud. Have a cheat sheet handy and practice doing the interview by phone.

Phone interviews tend to focus very much on professional qualifications and experience. In person, is whether you would be a good fit.

HR phone interviews will ask about willingness to travel, relocate, salary expectations, etc. Learn the artful dodge on the salary and package question. Do not give any kind of hard answer on your salary expectations at this stage - that only comes after the hiring manager has decided you are the one. Besides, if you’re in the military, it should be fairly common knowledge to HR about what range you’re in.

Do research now on what kind of package is normal in your industry.

When I was a hiring manager I would always do a phone interview first. From that I would attempt to determine if it was worth bring the candidate in to interview with the interview team. There were usually 4 or 5 members on a team and you don’t want to waste people’s time interviewing someone who is clearly not a fit.

If the candidate passed my phone interview, then we would bring him in and a team would interview. We were looking for competency and also compatibility. If a candidate were likely to be difficult to work with we did not want him.

After that we would tell HR to extend an offer. Salary range was known going in and in the companies I have worked for there was no wiggle room outside the range. That is not true in every company, but when I opened a request for hire we had a budget and could not go outside it.

In my opinion only: if they fly you in they think you are a good candidate and you have been narrowed down to the final list. In today’s economy it is rare to fly in someone who is a maybe.

Good luck!

Thanks everybody for the advice. The phone interview occurred this morning and the end result is that they want me to their facility for a face-to-face interview ASAP, so I’m going early next week. I did study and practice a lot the last few days - about three hours per night, as well as rehearsing interview answers while I was walking to work at 6:30 am.


Woohoo! Good luck!

great. suggest getting someone to do mock interviews with you. Ask you stuff like what is your weakness? You need a decent answer and it needs to sound natural.

There are previous threads on how to answer “the package” question. Figure that one out too instead of winging it.

Finally, on the interviews, figure out who is the one vested most in getting you on board. It may not be the hiring manager. There’s probably someone in the interview loop that is willing to give you some pointers for the rest of the interviews. This person may proactively try to coach you on getting through the interviews successfully. It’s really helpful if you can figure out who this is (and it may be the phone interview guy) and asking for “pointers” in the process and corporate culture.

I will focus on this because nobody has mentioned it. Almost no employer will offer you a contract. Employment contracts are generally for highly specialized fields (e.g., professional sports), fixed-term employment (consultant working on a project), or high-level executives. They will make an offer of employment. The offer will include a dollar amount and a description of the job. They should provide some level of detail about their benefits but you may have to ask. You might not get something as detailed as the employee contribution levels for health coverage, but you should get at least a summary of what their benefits are (vacation, sick, and other leave; health care; tuition reimbursement; 401(k) company contributions; etc.).

Some companies are willing to negotiate but some not. The best situation for a candidate to negotiate is when they know their value in the market, which for most people means they already have a competing offer on the table. Otherwise you’re just negotiating out of wishful thinking, which can cause all sorts of results depending on whom you’re dealing with.

Good catch. I had passed over it because somehow I got it into my head that this would be a consulting gig, and then a contract might be extended. (dunno where that came from though)

And, you may find that some aspects of compensation are negotiable, while others aren’t. When I came to my current job, they couldn’t budge on salary, but they were willing to throw more vacation days my way (having already been working for 10 years, I didn’t want to start over with only 2 weeks of vacation).

First I wish to thank everyone for their advice. Within a week after the phone interview they flew me to their facility for a face-to-face interview and a tour of the facility, at the end of which I was told verbally that I was ‘in’. The weeks following were spent emailing forms and various other administrative things back and forth. My new employers are being extremely generous and, after speaking to a few former employees that I know (one of whom recommended me in the first place), I believed that I am getting a dream job in a favorite location. I would not be able to plausibly concoct or invent this scenario so I have much to be thankful for.

Congratulations :slight_smile:

One final piece of advice: since you (most likely) won’t get a signed contract, save the offer letter and any other documents which provide information about the conditions of your employment. It can come in handy later, for reference or negotiations.


Good advice which I will definitely follow. Thanks

If there is no wiggle room on salary, try for more vacation days, etc. Most companies use seniority based vacation increases as a loyalty ploy, but you can exploit this if they really want you. In your current job you have X days/year vacation, so you can ask the new job to match that. Like salary, this can be an easy point to negotiate, or “no freaking way” depending on the company.

IME, a complete lack of flexibility in compensation negotiations does not bode well.

If they fly you out for an interview, they are probably at least 1/4 of the way to hiring you, and likely more than that. I have never seen a company spend the money to fly in more than 4 candidates, and usually it is two, and very often just one. Even if they are limited to hiring locally (to save relocation expenses, which you should expect, BTW) it is rare to interview more than 3 candidates, due to the time this takes staff away from normal duties.

I was on six interviews where they flew me out to NYC, SF, Nashville, Columbus, DC and Denver last year, and they had to have spent at least $1,000 on last minute airfare and hotel and meals and non of them hired me.

In a big corporation flying people out is not a big deal. I also had job interviews that dragged on two and three months. Jeez for the lousy computer store job for the Christmas holidays it took from Oct 29th to Dec 1st to hire me and FOUR interviews and that was for a minimum wage check out/cashier job, which I got.

When I was in H/R we had much more wiggle room on salary and no flexibility on vacation/sick days which are seniority based. It would’ve caused and uproar once it was found out, that so-and-so got more time off per year. It’s especially hard as most of the time, time off is dictated by company manuals whereas salary is not defined.

With salary the postion is ususally budgeted for a range, and usually no one’s bonus involves keeping salary’s down. Some plans have that, but it’s usually thrown out as it means you’ll get less than spectacular talent, or so the reasoning goes.

If you haven’t looked for work in the last three years, just remember salaries haven’t gone up, so you may have to work at it.