Job interviews? Screw that! why don’t you interview them?
In this entry, I will discuss why I think it is necessary to interview companies rather than being interviewed. I will provide my thoughts and experience on interviews and what I think you should look out for.
Since my last post on greed in construction, I mentioned that I would cover why I prefer interviewing companies. The reason is that the companies were asking silly questions, it was getting a bit boring, and I didn’t get to know the business. Once I joined, I regretted the setup 6–10months down the line.
Why do you want to join the company?
The one question I don’t like answering is “why do you want to join the company?”. 9/10 of the interviews I don’t want to answer it because it feels like a sales technique in committing via verbalization. I’ve seen it work in a few seminars I went years ago and again when I went to a property investment seminar in February. I don’t want to get in the detail, but the technique is using small “yes” and verbal commitment to proceed with the sale. I am unsure if the managers or the hiring personnel know that’s how it feels, but I don’t like it. It corners you into committing via the verbal action.
Why do I don’t want to commit in the interview? Well…I don’t know the company that well to say “yes.” Imagine you meet a girl at the bar and you’ve had fun and talked for 1–2 hours, and you ask her “let’s get married.” What do you think the reaction will be? “NO.” She wouldn’t be committing to someone who she’s just met. She’d probably want to get to know you for a bit, etc… Same thing goes here; you’d want to get to know the company’s way of working.
My default answer is vague, and I try to respond positively with “I need to ask your past or current employees to get a feel of the business as I cannot say yes without getting an understanding of the business. You could tell me positive things right now but when I’m working in the business it might be different, and I feel this is the only way I could get an unbiased insight about the business”. I do need to get to know the business from an employee’s point of view – and I recommend doing that. I go on LinkedIn and contact past/current employees to get a feel of the business and their job. Lookout for job progression and the internal culture (I’ll add a few examples of the questions I ask at the end of the post).
By giving them an idea that you are selective it will subconsciously make them think, “this is new, how do I respond to this?”, “this guy has the balls to say no to me; he must be good,” what kind of person has the audacity to say that.” This demonstrates that you have a higher value than the business itself. The higher value being that you are wanted and have an ambundance mindset – which promotes a leader’s mindset.
Framing & mindset
Now with that experience, I’ve built this mindset to turn the table around when I get a chance and get to know about the business before committing. This mindset is hard to develop as you need to be mindful to set the frame of the conversation to lead it. This is gold; you have to learn how to frame the conversation and become more assertive.
Framing is a way to control a conversation and lead people. For example, if a teacher is teaching a geography class and the student is listening, the frame of the teacher is “I am teaching you geography”. Another example is a standup comedian his frame would always be trying to banter, but sometimes we’ll be faced with hecklers, and he needs to know how to deal with that. The hecklers frame is “this guy is crap, and I am better”. The best way to deal with this would be for the standup comedian to use something called “Yes, and” – this allows the comedian to absorb the heckler’s statement and add to it so that he owns it. I won’t got into the detail, but you can read it up here.
I don’t like moving around companies, but sometimes our goals are not aligned, or I stopped believing they bring any value on the table because of their action. If you don’t mind the crap and can deal with being unethical and proceed with life by just getting paid then this article might not be for you. I cannot stand inconsiderate contractors who are just out there greedy and do not care about their employees.
What questions to ask?
The following might not be suggested by a lot of recruiters or experts but at the end of the day, I want to find out about the business before committing myself for months instead of hating the job after a year. So I start with finding what my values are and what I am looking for. It must be something that you look out for in your life and career; mine are drawn from experience.
You can create your own list of values using these questions to prompt you:
- What are you currently doing that the business is not helping you with?
- What stops are there in the business that holding your back in doing your job?
- How is your job affecting you socially and what can you get more of? (time, money to pay bills?)
- What is your ideal day and what would make it happen?
- What issues have you had in your job that keeps coming back and it could be easily fixed by the business, but they refuse to do that one thing.
- What do you want in your life other than work?
- What values would you have if you would be dropped on an island without anyone and you had to live? would you be living in an honest, ethical, caring environment?
The values that I seek out in every job are:
- Ethics – how ethical is the business regarding payment, procurement and well-being. This means that there are no fraudulent activities or unethical behaviour by the management. If they seem like they bend the rules to benefit them, then that’s not something I’d want to be involved in.
- Work life / Balance – This tells me how much they value me as a person, if they are offering high pay + high working hours and discretely mention that you will exceed it constantly – then that’s not for me.
- Payment – being paid fairly for the hours you work. I normally work out my hourly pay by using the following calculation (Proposed Salary)/(Weekly hours*46). I use my current salary and my weekly hours to calculate my current hourly pay as a benchmark. Using this as an indicator it will give you an idea if you’re getting short-changed or not. (Of course, there are other factors such as travel, training, etc… to consider but use that as an indicator to decide to join.). For example, if my current benchmark hourly pay is £20/hr (£36,800/46weeksx40hrs), then I am offered 50 hours at £50k the hourly rate is only £21.74/hr. Even though it is more money my net-worth is another £1.74. The aim here is to work less and earn more, I’d be happy with £50k at 40 hours, which would come up to £27.17/hr – that is a progress.
- Training and Growth – Ability for the business to let you grow, gain the experience and provide you training to let you do it. Being promised training but then you have to beg for it is not worth the time or effort, I mostly spend that time learning on my own. I get there faster than waiting for them to provide the training. What you might be looking for here is a consistent track record of training provided by the employers, an easy way to find out is to ask when was the last course the interviewer was sent on and how many did they have in the last few months. If the cannot answer then, they are offering false promises.
Think of it as due diligence on the business’ promises and offers. You have to go and test them to see if they provide you these.
Here is a list of questions that could give you an indication of these values. Try to formulate some on your own using these templates:
- Have you had any dispute over payment in the last 1–2 years?
- Are payment to the supply chain a problem?
- Can you explain how a supplier is paid from assessment, certification to actual payment?
- How was the subcontractors selected on the current project, were they based on price?
- Are there any clear and written list highlighting the criteria to accepting the subcontractor’s offer? and have they been upheld?
Work life balance
- What are my contracted hours? how long do you stay?
- Do we get paid any remuneration if we are asked to work away from home?
- What happens if I cannot attend to one of the projects away from home because its too far or too expensive for me to sustained?
This ties up with the work/life balance and the hours you do rather than the contracted hours, I don’t have a test but only a calculation to work out the hourly pay
- When was the last time you had training?
- how many training did you go in the last six months?
- How easy is it to get a training course?
- What are the terms of the training agreement?
Additional questions to think about
In addition to asking about the value type questions try asking questions about the projects you’ll be based on. This will give you an idea of the issues you’ll need to solve and also an idea if the work load is too much that you’ll see yourself working long hours. Try to get a feel of the project as if you would be starting on the project tomorrow, think like a consultant – identify the problem and try find the solution. Go into as much detail as possible.
Here are some points you could focus on:
- Form of contract used
- Structure of the project staff – avoid projects where more than 70% are freelancers especially if the project manager and commercial manager is a freelancer
- Method of valuing the application with the client, then check if there are adequate individuals in the project to help you with it. E.g. cost clerk / commercial administrator for reimbursable contract, experienced planners for activity based contracts, or even enough time for you to do site measures.
- Method of assessing the applications with the subcontractors/suppliers
- Quantity of subcontractors and form of contract used (bespoke and non-back to back causes administrative issues and would potentially time bar)
- Current issues on the project
- How is the design managed?
- How is the change control managed and is there a backlog? How are they going to tackle the change control backlog going forward.
Hopefully, this insight might be useful for you when looking for a new job. Try it on your next job interview, be bold and don’t take it as if you need the job. They are the ones seeking you – they have a demand and you can supply.
Did you enjoy this? Please let me know in the comments. I’d also love to hear of how you go about finding the perfect company / job and any issues you’ve had.