Saturday, October 5, 2013

Answering Interview Questions For Job Change

To start with, let's accept the fact that a happy employee never quits, and a recruiter is not a fool to believe this statement. Every employee changes job for a reason. The reason can range from a variety of issues - issues pertaining to salary; supervisor; colleagues; management; company policies; market performance; branding; and many more that are, sometimes, personal and circumstantial.

Most candidates think that if they tell the correct reason, they could get rejected; hence resort to lying. However, lies don't help. The recruiters are trained to catch, and weed such candidates out of the selection process. Most people are perplexed as to why such a question is asked, because they don't understand the perspective that a recruiter wishes to gain by the answer to this question. Recruiters aim to hire employees, motivated by goals that are logical, long term, and mutually fulfilling. They also wish to understand the psychology and environment within which the employee must have been working. Environment and psychology have lately attracted a lot of attention with in job market as people have savored the consequences of not paying heed to them.

Unfortunately, most of the candidates look for a job change for all the wrong reasons. Listed below are all those wrong reasons, along with the explanation as to why they are considered wrong.

 For Better Salary: The biggest reason behind changing the job is dissatisfaction from the current salary. Quoting Salary as the sole reason for changing the job is never considered healthy. This shows that the candidate is not concerned with the job profile, and is greedy for only the short term desires. Such candidates reflect the tendency to hop, every time a better offer is thrown at them. Stability is a big issue with them. Most people are dissatisfied with respect to salary not because of their own lower salaries, but for the higher salaries of other people that they know of. It's the comparison, which creates the problems. No recruiter would consider salary as a valid reason if a candidate's salary is at par with the market standards, with respect to the industry, profile, and designation, the person is currently associated with. However, if in your case salary really is an issue, then you must frame your answers in way given below: "I am extremely satisfied with my role, and the company. Working with this organization has been a great learning experience. As evident from my resume, I am a very stable person, and for me, profile and the learning hold a great importance. However, given the market standards, my current salary is much lesser, and it has caused a little dissatisfaction. I have spoken with my company HR about this issue, and I am sure that they must have tried hard, but unfortunately, despite my consistent good performance and repeated reminders, they have not considered the possibility of giving me a raise. I am sure that they must have had their own valid reasons. However, I believe that I am ready for a salary raise. I applied with your organization, because the working environment and the learning process is the same in this company as well, along with the possibility of getting a better compensation, which would be as per the market norms." In this answer, you have actually addressed to a host of issues. You told the recruiter positive things about your current role and company, your expectations related to salary, your awareness and research about current market standards, and a valid reason for applying to this company. You have also justified your demand through research, while not demeaning the importance of long term goals, profile, and learning. This will definitely be considered.
Because you don't get along with your manager or team: Another major reason to look for a change is, when an employee doesn't get along well with the manager or the team members. Now, as a rule, an interviewee can't gripe about the current company, manager or the team members, because that would make recruiter suspicious about the candidate's own behavior, and ability to gel with people around. Even if you are the only right person in the entire company, a recruiter can't promise you a favorable environment in the new organization, and I believe neither can candidate himself. It also negatively highlights the people handling skills of the employee. An ideal advice to such a candidate should be to go back, and stop applying. Sit back, and think; analyze the situation. Realign the focus from "Who's wrong?" to "What's wrong?" If there is a problem with the manager, fix up a one-to-one meeting. Take feedback, and understand the expectations. Sometimes, rather most of the times, no one is culprit, except the differences in perspectives and expectations. Make the notes or the minutes of the meeting, and assure your manager that you would work on the shortcomings. 

Once both of you will be on the same page, I am sure that you won't have to look for another job. Let's talk about the differences with team members. I understand that the problem is bigger, because the biggest hindrance is your ego. The first and the most difficult task, is to put your ego aside. Once it is done, go and speak to them, but only in separate meetings. Try, and explore if everyone thinks alike about you. Find out the reasons, but don't talk about the issues that you face because of them. The key is to change your own behavior, reasonably of course, and starting a spiral of behavior change in the rest for you. As an interview coach and a soft skills trainer, I have mostly observed that team issues vanish very soon if there is leadership support. Leader must always be kept in loop while doing all this so that he or she knows, and recognizes your steps and efforts. At the end of the day, the leader will garner the credits for entire team's coordination and performance. Ideas proposed above, were for people, who have a long term career approach, and wish to make things better through right channels. For others, however, the best way is to keep lying until someone believes you.

When your current company is not performing well: Times are turbulent, and any company may face such a situation, any day. People, especially the recruiters, are aware about every company's performance within their industries. A highly foolish thing that most candidates do is to keep avoiding the truth. I have even faced candidates, who insisted that their companies were performing greatly, and they were changing only because of the better opportunities. Such candidates never make it through, because from the recruiter's perspective, either they are lying or living in oblivion. There are candidates, who openly criticize the company policies, and management decisions. Now, they might be technically right, but an employee is not supposed to be judgmental. What happened with one company may become the fate of another. Judgmental employees spend most of the time in analyzing things beyond their scope, and view every management process and decision with suspicion. Suspicions cause arguments, debates, and battles, and no one wants any of that. A recruiter expects the candidate to first accept the situation at hand, while maintaining a non-judgmental attitude. The ideal way of handling this is by saying, "As you know that the company, I am currently working with, is facing a turbulent time, and the employees have got a clear indication from the management; hence, I am looking for a job change in order to secure my future." But don't think that this matter would end like this. The trail of questions would be more difficult, however, can be made easier by rational thinking and preparation. Candidates should be prepared for questions like, "Where do you think your company's decisions went wrong, because of which such a situation came up?" "Do you think you could have done things differently, if you were the CEO? What were those things?" "What if, God forbids, something like this happens to this company tomorrow? Would you leave us too?" I will surely tell you how to answer the above questions, but some other day. 

 For an on site opportunity (in case of IT companies):There are two phases of IT recruitment - a desperate one and a non-desperate one. These times are largely governed by the requirements of particular skill sets, and the number of such requirements. During desperate times, IT companies do compromise on this term, in order to fulfill their project requirements. Candidates even have the courage to negotiate on the basis of on site opportunity with some companies. However, during the other times, when no such desperation exists, such candidates are rejected outright. The simple reason being that if the company you are working with, doesn't think of you as a deserving candidate to be deployed on site, how can they? It simply implies that for you, role, responsibilities, project quality, learning and development or any such organizational virtues weigh lesser than a simple on site opportunity, which is more of a short-term wealth accumulation mechanism. The
verdict is simple - 'you don't understand business'. While some may disagree, I have never shown a green signal to any such candidate. Change is a highly welcomed phenomenon, but only for the right reasons.

For an opportunity to work with a better brand: This answer is like a swamp; once you jump into it, you slide down with no comeback. Harder you try to come out of it, deeper you sink. The recruiter of a bigger company knows that he represents a bigger brand for which, there are valid reasons. However, he would be keen to know your definition and parameters of big brand. The term 'bigger brand' has different meanings for different people. For most, it is fatter pay packages. Some other shallow perceptions include larger teams, big market presence or share, swanky offices, and happening crowd. However, interviewer is searching for a person, who identifies and values true reasons like, well defined processes and systems, opportunity to work in cross functional teams, strong training and development platform, multifaceted learning opportunities, a bigger platform to showcase the performance, to gain enormous recognition, and finally, to achieve a comprehensive development as a professional human being. I hope you must have checked by now what factors you had included in the definition of 'bigger brand'. Remember one thing, though. No matter how strongly you establish the new company as a bigger and better brand, never ever demean your current organization. Always start your answer with praises for your current company, and the way it helped in your evolution as a professional. 
Being ungrateful is never appreciated. I once encountered an aspirant, who devoted 10 minutes to disgrace his first organization, and the many ways, in which it pulled his career down. My next question was, "But don't you think that this was the only company that gave you the first chance, and that too during recession, when most of the people were not offered jobs? Don't you think that, if not for that company, you, like many others, would have become a lecturer in some small engineering college in an inconspicuous town?" I know my questions carry a glimpse of my anger, however, the point to be noted is that he did not have any answer, and all he could come up with, was a sheepish smile.

There are weirder reasons like, the present company not allowing the pets inside the company premises, and this article won't be of much use to such candidates. But I am sure that this article will be circulated among those, who are truly trying to find the right answer to this inevitable question. In my next articles, I will discuss about the right reasons, which should instigate the job change. Till then, remember what not to say as an answer to this question.


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