Job interview question

So I’ve just received a call that an institution I’ve been doing consulting for wants to open up a position for me, (because everyone I’m working with over there is “extremely impressed” with my work, yay?). They asked if I’d like to work for them. The answer is yes, I’d like to work for them.

I actually interviewed with these guys a little over a year ago, and didn’t end up getting the job for whatever reason, but now they want me. And the guy who contacted me said he didn’t think I’d need to interview again, but that it was possible, depending on what his bosses said.

So if I do interview, inevitably they’re going to ask me why I want to work for them. I have a good answer for this. In paraphrase: “Because I think X is going to be centrally important in the future of our industry, and it’s important to get ‘doing X’ right, and you guys are on the forefront in that regard, and I want to help you guys continue to excel and improve in that area,” something like that.

But the move from my current position would really be a move “sideways” and, well, actually, a little bit downwards, and if there are people interviewing me they may wonder what that’s all about. And my actual reasons for doing this involve, on the one hand, knowing for sure that the place I work will continue to exist, and on the other hand, moving from a place where, when I do a good job, the people immediately around me know it but the decision-makers themselves are either too incompetent or too corrupt to care enough to recognize the fact and do anything about it in terms of giving me further meaningful responsibilities and (more importantly) resources with which to carry them out–to a place where (as I know because of the very reason they want to hire me) as I do a good job this will be recognized and people will do things to put me in places where my talents can be best used and where resources will be available for me to carry this out.

But of course I can’t say that exactly.

But what I am wondering is, whether it would be a bad idea to tack on something to my answer to the “why work for us?” spiel, to the effect of “also I’m looking for a position in which management recognizes and uses talent appropriately, and my experiences with you show me that your institution does this well.” Something like that.

Well now that I wrote it down it looks a little arrogant, but anyway:

My concern is: they may be wondering why I’m willing to take a step slightly downwards from where I am, so

My question is: Can I say something that explains this and assuages any concern there may be because of it? And if so, is what I proposed a good thing to say? And finally:

Am I concerned over nothing?

Well remember in a job interview they are mainly looking at 4 things:

  1. What do you bring to the job (experience)
  2. Will you fit in?
  3. How long will you stay?
  4. How much will you cost them?

You seem to be concerning yourself over nothing.
If they do ask you why you want to work for them, just tell them that you have read a lot about their business ( do a Google search to make this statement true) and that you are impressed with what you have read.

Odds are that the candidate who they did choose didn’t work out or found a better job and they now want you. Just go with that.

Just be careful how you say that, because just reading that part by itself makes it sound a bit like you are bitter about management not recognizing and using talent properly at previous jobs. Maybe it’s just me reading it that way, or maybe you’d be able to say it in a way that just sounds like compliments about the prospective company and not anything against your current job. Also I’m definitely not an expert at interviews so take this with a grain of salt.

I agree with nevadaexile, say you’ve read about their business, and are impressed with them, especially regarding issue A and how they do thing B, or whatever.

If the organization has a record of hiring contractors as regular employees, after what is really an audition period, they probably won’t even ask why you want to go permanent. They already know.

I am usually impressed by people I interview who are making a lateral or slight downward move. It tells me they are willing to make a short-term sacrifice because they really want to work for my company, money is probably not a primary concern for them (so they won’t jump ship as soon as a higher-paying job comes along), and they have confidence in their abilities to impress people and move up. So no, I wouldn’t worry about it.

The standard rule when talking about reasons for leaving is don’t bad-mouth your old company, and definitely don’t bad-mouth individuals at your old company. Talk about the opportunities you see at the new company, and don’t mention the lack of opportunities at your old one. And focus on opportunities to make a difference at the company and help it grow, not your personal opportunities for advancement.

I think your idea of “a position in which management recognizes and uses talent appropriately” is a good start as long as you tie that to how it benefits the company, not you. “I have a lot of skills/experience that can contribute to the growth/success of your company, and my experience with you has shown me that your organizational structure allows this.” Throw in some examples of these skills and what you like about their organization (stuff like providing resources, granting responsibilities to people who show they are capable).

You can easily word that without badmouthing your current company. Just say you’ve heard/witnessed that Company X has a good reputation for employee recognition, being recognized for your efforts is one of your primary motivators, and leave it at that. That’s just one of the reasons you should give them for wanting to work there, but it sounds like you already know that. Just make it a byline of your reasoning, not the main event.

Do NOT say anything about your last company except that they were great people and you learned a lot there.

And do not mention the need for more recognition. If they have a good system, they know it already and do not need your input on it.

People make lateral moves a the time. Smart people take jobs based on growth potential, not the starting point. Just say you learned a lot at company X, and that it’s time to move on to new challenges.

If you have worked for them, you don’t need Google to know their good points. Just say, when I consulted for you I was impressed by …

If you are going to learn anything new there, that is a good reason to give for switching. If not, after they make you an offer is time to negotiate. A plain old lateral move is fine, but if it is a downward one you might ask for a bit more money or at least a schedule for a review for a raise. Get it in writing. And only do it after you get your offer when they have you in their plans already.
If you can, with your inside knowledge make an argument about how you are going to save them money, make them money, or make them more efficient. That could be used for justification.