Job Interview Preparation, Tips and Job Transition Tips

2015-12-09 Updated

2010-10-26 Initial Post

This post is to gather my notes on job interview preparation and transition. Related to this, check out my post on Job Reference –> Minimum Information Needed.

Job Interview Prep/Tips

>> Check the company's Web site to get info on the company's industry, its locations, number of employees, etc. Most of the relevant information can be found in the "about" link, or something similarly named. The "investor information" link is also useful. This all seems obvious, but back around 2005 (when the Internet/Web was already popular) I was talking to a kid who was still in college and he was clueless about doing this.

>> You do NOT have to tell anyone what your present salary is. Even on a job application, you can leave that section blank. If the interviewer asks about your current salary, politely state something like this: That's not something that I'm comfortable disclosing at this point because every job is different, so what I'm making now has little relevance to the position I'm applying for. If the interviewer pushes harder, politely state something like this: I've done some research on similar positions and the pay should be somewhere between XX,XXX and YY,YYY; so that's the range that I'm looking for. The only thing you and the interviewer need to take away from this conversation is to know if your range and the company's range overlap so that the interview process can proceed. If your range is higher than the company's range, than it's not worth either party's time to proceed with the interview.

The point here is that you should be paid what the market rate is for the position, so your past salary is totally irrelevant. To put it another way, if you're buying a house, the seller isn't going to care what you paid for your last house. The current house will be offered at a price similar to comparable houses in the same area.

Sometimes, if it's a third party recruiter, it's beneficial for him to know your salary, or at least know what you're looking for, so that he doesn't present you with jobs that pay too low.

>> During face to face interviews, some people have a hard time maintaining eye contact with the interviewer without feeling like they're staring. To overcome that, pick different areas on the interviewer's face and move your eyes between them and the interviewer's eyes. For example, take a break by looking at the interviewers left ear or chin for a second. Another thing, which I personally like doing, is to periodically take notes during the interview (or just write down anything at all). Looking down for few seconds to write helps to break the "stare effect."

>> If you haven't done so already, start keeping track of your accomplishments and keeping copies of project documents. And if you put on your resume that you worked on a specific project, make sure you have a more detailed summary of it on hand in case the interviewer asks you to elaborate on the project. For example, if  you put on your resume that you upgraded the HRIS database from SQL 2000  to SQL 2008 two jobs ago, make sure you have more info on that in case the interviewer asks for details. Since that project was from a previous job, the details might not be fresh in your mind and it could seem like you fudged that part of your resume if you can't give clear answers on it. So basically you need to have supporting documents (for your own reference) with you during all interviews in case you're asked for more details.

Job Transition Prep

>> Keep a copy of all your HR-related documents (reviews, benefits info, etc) and the first and last pay stubs of every year. This will make it easier for you to fill out forms and can also help when doing your income tax return. Also keep the HR phone number handy in case there are any issues after you leave, such as not receiving your W-2.

>> When you know that you want to leave and have started looking, make a list of "resignation tasks" to do before leaving your current job. Update this list as you think of new tasks and by the time that you give your two weeks notice, you should know exactly what you need to do and won't be in a rush and forget something. Here are some examples of tasks:

  • Get current company's main address and phone number
  • Get current company's HR contact info
  • Export current company's employee list to include e-mail addresses and phone numbers
  • Submit all outstanding expenses
  • Get forms for 401k rollover
  • Copy project documents from SharePoint
  • On work computer:
    • Move all personal data off
    • Delete personal accounts (from IE, Chrome, Firefox, etc) and delete all saved passwords
    • Delete personal WiFi and Bluetooth connections
    • Wipe all free space on laptop
  • Wipe work iPhone
  • Delete any call forwarding settings and references to company desk phone

>> IMPORTANT: If you give your current job two weeks notice, they might terminate you right away or some time before the two weeks. Either way, be prepared and organize all your physical belongings and complete as much as you can from your resignation tasks list before you give your notice. If they want you to leave the same day, then you can just pack up and go.

>> If HR gives you an exit interview, no matter how bad the job was, don't say anything remotely negative about your manager or coworkers, even if they are the reasons for you wanting to leave. It seems tempting to do so on the way out since you're moving on, but word will eventually get back to them and you'd be burning bridges that way. If this doesn't make sense, think about it this way: If you gave any hint of negative feedback about your manager, HR will need to relay this to your manager's manager (the director, for example). So if one day the director sits down with your former manager and gives him some constructive criticism based on your exit interview comments, it's pretty easy to link that back to you. And the director may also take offense to your feedback.

I actually have first hand experience with this because one of my former coworkers said that someone had "bashed" the manager and we concluded that it was probably me. I didn't feel that I "bashed" him but I guess what I said could have been taken out of context. Basically my point was that the manager would be better as a systems architect than a manager of people and he needed a career path that would allow him to be at a high level without having to manage people.

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