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Prepare, Prepare, Prepare - 3 Key Words Before Interviewing


Getting Through the Interview Process

The information in this particular section is broken down into two parts. The first part deals with the interview process itself--the phone interview, the face-to-face interview, how to dress, etiquette, questions you may be asked and questions you will want to ask, how to write an effective thank you letter, and important information on what hiring managers say disqualifies candidates (you'll definately want to read this one). The second part moves you through the next phase--evaluating the offer, salary negotiations, how to effectively resign without the hassles, how to navigate your way through a counteroffer, and a little piece on culture shock after you actually make the transition to the new company. Please feel free to e-mail us or contact us if there is any other information you would like to see.


You've Received the Job Offer--Now What: Getting Through the Final Phase





Phone interviews are a regular part of the hiring process. With hundreds of applicants to screen, many human resource officials, recruiters, and hiring managers regularly conduct these to narrow the pool of candidates to a more manageable number. The employer's goal is to determine which candidates will proceed to a more in-depth interview, most likely a face-to-face interview. In short, the purpose is to disqualify candidates from further consideration.

In order to prevent this from happening to you, we've prepared some helpful tips to help you survive the initial round in the interview process, the telephone interview:

  • Be prepared--this isn't the time to "wing it".
  • Research the company you are interviewing with--it always impresses the interviewer.
  • Keep a copy of your resume handy for reference.
  • Have a list of questions that might help fill "dead time" during the interview. Caution: use these questions only as necessary. Telephone interviews are usually fairly short, and this time is needed for the interviewer's questions. There will be time for these questions during subsequent interviews. (See Questions to Ask section.)
  • Have a pad and pen ready to take necessary notes.
  • Get to a quiet office or phone to eliminate potential distractions (call waiting, t.v., radio, cell phones, pets, kids, co-workers, etc.)
  • Write down the interviewer's name, his/her title, name of company, position title you are interviewing for, and other information you may want to refer to later.
  • As silly as it may seem, smile! No, the interviewer cannot read your facial expressions, but your enthusiasm, or lack of it, will be evident on the other end of the line.
  • Understand the question being asked--it's OK to clarify if you don't understand.
  • Respond to questions clearly and concisely. Speak in a conversational manner. Watch your grammar and tone. Hold the receiver one-half inch from your lips and speak directly into it.
  • When the interview is over, ask for the opportunity to interview in person.

The Don't List when Interviewing by Phone:

  • Don't chew gum, smoke or eat while being interviewed.
  • Don't mention salary, benefits, vacation, or work hours.
  • Don't talk about problems in your current organization, or problems with your boss or co-workers. Make certain you have positive reasons for seeking a new position.
  • Don't answer only "yes" or "no" to questions. Use this opportunity to sell your skills and experience.
  • Don't ramble. Give enough information to answer the question. Keep your responses appropriate, fact-filled, and concise.

Remember, the employer is looking for the top 3-5 candidates to continue the interview process. Oftentimes candidates overlook the importance of preparing for a phone interview--do your homework. This may be the first step in the interview process, but if you're not prepared, it's likely you won't make it to step number 2!


So you've made it to the face-to-face interview. Congratulations! Pay close attention to the following should answer many of the questions we are asked every day.

What Men Should Wear:

  • Conservative (navy or gray) suit with conservative tie.
  • Socks to coordinate with your suit and shoes (no white socks, please!)
  • Conservative jewelry--a watch, one ring. If you have an earring it is best to take it out.
  • Conservative hair cut and neatly trimmed facial hair. If you have long hair, just make sure that it looks clean, neat, and is pulled back.
  • It's best not to wear cologne...light after-shave is OK.
  • Neatly trimmed nails.

What Women Should Wear:

  • Conservative dress or business suit. The skirt or dress hem should be at or below the knee.
  • Low-heeled pumps--no stilettos, please!
  • Small purse or neat briefcase--no large, open bags.
  • Natural-looking makeup. Stay away from the "evening out" look.
  • It is best not to wear perfume or cologne.
  • Neat, well-groomed hair.
  • Well-kept, natural-looking nails--avoid bright or odd-colored polish.

Other Tips:

  • Do not smoke. Even if offered a cigarette, politely decline.
  • Do not chew gum.
  • Do not drink alcohol, even if offered. Politely decline.
  • For interviews conducted over lunch or dinner, eat properly--the way your mom taught you--chew with your mouth closed, and don't talk with your mouth full (I know--you wouldn't do such atrocious things!) Also, take time to put your utensils down periodically to converse. One word of caution: many times candidates make the mistake of letting down their guard over lunch. No matter how relaxed the atmosphere, it's still an interview!
  • Even though the dress code for many companies is business casual, it is still considered best to dress in a suit for your interview. If you are asked to come back and invited to dress more casually, feel free to do so, as long as business casual is the dress code for the company at which you are interviewing. However, it is best to keep it on the "dressy" side of business casual.



Your visual impression is extremely important in the overall effect you have on others. You will want to create enthusiasm, interest, sincerity, openness and warmth. These are qualities that people like to see in those they work with. Of course, there are little things that you need to be aware of, such as your posture, facial expressions, energy and gestures. Be dynamic and friendly, but it is suggested that you keep it one notch less than the person interviewing you.

The Eye's Have It:

Good eye contact, not staring, is essential to conducting a successful interview. It conveys trustworthiness, confidence and credibility while encouraging open discussion. If your eyes dart around the room looking at everything except the interviewer, or if you stare at the floor, it reflects a lack of self-confidence, low self image and a lack of enthusiasm. If you want to get down to the technicalities of eye contact, it has been recommended that you maintain 10-15 seconds of eye contact when first meeting a person before looking away. Again, don't stare, but come back to good eye contact often during your discussion.

The All-Important Handshake:

Another important, non-verbal message you send is in your handshake, and it's no different whether you are a man or a woman. You want to maintain a firm grasp, not a crushing handshake. Convey the message that you're glad to meet with this person. A limp handshake sends a very weak message to the other person. Be sure that your purse or briefcase is in your left hand to accommodate a sudden introduction. Again, for both men and women, a solid, decisive handshake is always a must.

On Nodding:

Nodding agreement encourages others to talk. It also acknowledges that you understand what is being said. However, limit your nodding because it can be very distracting.

To Sit or Not to Sit:

Sit when asked to do so. Sit straight against the chair back--don't slouch. It's best to keep both feet on the floor. Don't look rigid, however. You want to create a relaxed atmosphere, conducive to good discussion. Don't fidget, wring your hands, tap your fingers, look at your watch, twirl your pen, etc. Keep your hands away from your hair, face and neck during the interview. These things only serve to distract you and the interviewer. Concentrate on the career opportunity before you, involve yourself in the discussion, and you'll soon forget how nervous you are.


One of the most important things you can do in the interview is listen. Nothing is more frustrating to interviewers than for candidates to respond inappropriately because they failed to listen. If there is any uncertainty, always clarify the question prior to responding. Be sure you understand the question being asked. Sometimes you will need to clarify the question by repeating the question (called reflective communication) which will demonstrate your ability to listen. Once you're certain what is being asked, you can formulate a meaningful answer.

Do not lead the interviewer to think that you have skills you don't have. If you lack a specific skill/experience, make a comparable analogy with a similar skill/experience, or tell the interviewer that you have not yet been exposed to that area. Assure them that you are confident, with proper training and direction, you could be effective and productive relatively quickly.

Interview preparation is paramount to your success. Answers should be well thought out, specific (give examples where appropriate) and concise. It is a good idea to review the following list of questions and think through the responses you would give if they were asked during an interview.

Salary Questions:

This is difficult for most candidates. When possible, it is to your advantage to let your recruiter handle this to make sure that both your needs and the needs of the employer are met. We have already provided the employer with a salary history, so you most likely will not be asked to interview unless there is a way for the employer to make it worth your while. It is also in your favor to postpone the discussion of money for as long as possible so the employer sees all the ways you can help them solve their problem. This reply works most often: "I trust that if you find my skills and abilities acceptable, you will make a fair offer. I have been working with (recruiter name/company name), and I feel confident that you will be able to work with them for a satisfactory compensation." If this doesn't satisfy the interviewer, it is acceptable to give a range of about $5,000 beginning at your current or last salary. Anything over 15% (and given the current economic situation, 10%) seems excessive, unless you are working from a very low base or are looking at a major career move. Another option is to defer responding by asking for 24 hours to think about the overall opportunity. Then confer with us and we'll get back in touch with the employer for you. Contracting Note: If you are contracting, never discuss salary with the company. Explain that you will be the employee of another company, and that you will negotiate with that company on salary.

General Guidelines:

  • Prepare for the interview. You may be asked questions such as, "Why should I consider you?" The interviewer is looking for your poise...if you have prepared, you can easily answer the question. A simple, "I have the qualifications to do the job" will do--then back up your answer with specific examples. Of course, know what the job requires of you first before attempting to answer this question!
  • No matter what the market, you are the seller--not the buyer!
  • Early in the interview, after the introductions and small talk, get the hiring manager to clarify this position for you. You will then be able to pull out specifics in your background that relate to the new position. Emphasize the characteristics you possess that match the job requirement, and sell a comparable asset for those characteristics you do not possess.
  • Listen!!
  • Since the employer is interviewing because there is work to be done, show understanding of the employer's needs.
  • Don't interrupt.
  • Be you, be honest, and again, listen!

Skill Questions:

  • "What can you do for us that someone else can't?"
  • "How long would it take for you to make a meaningful contribution?"
  • "What is your management style?"
  • "Have you kept up in your field with training?"

Current Position Questions:

  • "Why do you want to leave your present employer?"
  • "What do you like most/least about your present employer/position?" Be careful with this question--don't point fingers. Negative statements such as "I don't like the politics" or, "My boss and I don't get along" make you look like a complainer. Take the responsibility upon yourself and answer with, "The type of technology I'm interested in isn't available to me now," or "I'm interested in the types of responsibilites that aren't available with my present employer."
  • "What aspects of your job do you consider most crucial?"
  • "How would your colleagues describe you? How would those that work for you describe you? How would your boss describe you? How would you describe yourself?"
  • "Would you like to have your boss' job?" Anyone ambitious would answer, "Yes." However, it might be wise to add, "when I am judged qualified", or "when a similar position develops."
  • "How do you feel about your progress to date?" Never apologize for yourself. You can't expect someone to hire you if you don't think highly of your own accomplishments and capabilities. "I think I've done well, but I need new challenges and opportunities" is a good reply.
  • "How long have you been thinking of changing jobs?" This is almost a trick question, so tread lightly here! If you reply that you've been thinking a long time, they'll think you are resistant to change. If you reply "yesterday", then they'll think you're too quick to make decisions.
  • "What kind of hours and environment are you used to working?"
  • "How many hours per week do you currently work?"

Character and Ability Questions:

  • "What are your personal goals? What are your career goals?"
  • "What are your strengths?"
  • "What are your weaknesses?" Answer with, "I'm always looking to improve my ______ skills." Answer in terms of positive growth.
  • "What are some of the most significant accomplishments in your career?"
  • "How has your current job prepared you to take on more responsibility?"
  • "Can you work well under pressure and deadlines?"
  • "What causes you to lose your temper?" Everyone has a boiling point, so don't say that you never fly off the handle, because you'll lose. Pick something safe such as, "obvious lying," or, "people who are chronically late for meetings."
  • "Who has the greatest influence on you?" Give one name--someone with authority such as a school professor, an old boss, an author--and be prepared to give a short explanation such as, "He taught me to be unafraid of new ideas," or "She showed me how to focus on what really matters."
  • "What kinds of decisions are most difficult for you?" Be human and admit that not everything comes easily, but be careful what you do admit! Don't disqualify yourself. Answer with, "It's difficult for me to tell a client that he is running his business poorly," or, "I find it difficult to decide which of two good people must be let go."
  • "Have you done the best work of which you are capable?" Again, keep it simple: "I'm sure there are times when I could have worked harder or longer, but over the years I've tried to do my best and I believe I have succeeded."
  • "Tell me about one of your biggest mistakes and how you handled it." We all make mistakes--own up to it--and definitely prepare for this one!
  • "What are some of the things on which you and your supervisor disagree?" Again, don't introduce negatives here. Don't assault your boss' integrity, character, or decision-making abilities. Sharing that you simply have a different way of handling situations is better than saying anything negative.
  • "How do you manage to interview while you are still employed?"
  • "Describe a situation where your work was criticized. How did that make you feel?"
  • "Are you a leader or a follower?"

Give It Some Thought:

  • "Tell me about yourself." What a catch-all! Don't go into a long dissertation here. Keep it short. The interviewer is either looking at how you respond, or the interviewer just doesn't have good interview skills and doesn't know how to get started. Keep your answer short (2 minutes maximum) and keep it focused on your job and skills. For example, begin with, "I'm a skilled Oracle DBA with 4 years in Oracle and 1 1/2 years in Informix. I was an applications developer in C and Unix prior to that, so I bring a solid understanding of development as well as databases to my employer. I particularly enjoy...(whatever aspect of your job that you like). Then add, "I'm not certain I answered your question in full...what else would you like to know?"
  • "What do you know about our company?"
  • "Why do you want this job?" This should be fairly easy if you have done your homework. Organize your reasons into several short, hard-hitting answers such as, "You make the best product on the market today," or, "You've got a technology department that is aggressive and imaginative," or, "Your management is far sighted enough to reinvest profits so that soon you will be the leader in your industry." Don't just blow smoke--stick to the facts.
  • "Why should we hire you?" Keep your answer short with, "I have the qualifications to do the job that has to be done, and my track record will verify this." Of course, make certain that you know what job they want done before answering. If you are inexperienced in this field, answer with, "I'm a capable learner and can be productive in a short period of time."
  • "What training/qualifications do you have for this job?" Your interviewer could probably answer this question himself after looking at your resume, but he wants to hear you explain it in your own words, so don't rehash what's on your resume. Deliver two or three short, fact-filled qualifications such as, "I have a background in various databases, and have demonstrated my abilities to work in multiple database environments." If you are a recent graduate, try to construct an answer that includes both academic and any job-related experiences.
  • "What interests you most about this position?" Keep it short and truthful, answering with, "The challenge...the environment...the future."
  • "What things are important for your job satisfaction?"
  • "Describe the work environment in which you felt most comfortable."
  • "What are your greatest accomplishments?" You need to prepare one or two stories that demonstrate your capability. If you're fresh out of school, consider an academic experience or something that is connected with summer employment.
  • "What would you like to be doing in 5 years?" To answer this question, make sure you know exactly what can and cannot be achieved by the ideal candidate in your shoes. Too many job hunters butcher this question because they have not done their homework and have no idea where their career will lead them. If you see yourself at another company or in another department of the present company, tread lightly. You can't afford to tell your interviewer that you believe you'll be more successful than he is.
  • "What do you expect to accomplish within the next year if we offer you this position?"
  • "How do you feel about a male/female boss?" If you register concerns, you will not be hired. We're living in a new millenium--get used to male and female bosses in the workplace!
  • "How well do you take direction or coaching?"
  • "Why have you changed jobs so frequently?"
  • "Why have you been out of work so long?"
  • "What other positions are you considering?"
  • "Can you explain your salary history?"
  • "How did you do in school?" If you didn't do well, you really need to prepare for this question! Don't shrug it off.
  • "How do your spouse and children feel about this career move?" Make certain that if relocation is involved, you have fully addressed this with your partner. I have had people interview who had me convinced that their partner was willing to relocate, only to have the job offer made and killed while everyone's expectations were at an all-time high because the partner decided they didn't want to move. Do yourself a favor and don't put yourself, your family, your recruiter, or your potential employer through this stress and the ill feelings that follow if you are not certain that relocation is an option!
  • "How willing are you to travel?"
  • "Who would you list as references?" Be prepared with 5 names...preferably three that are connected with business or academics, and 2 that are connected with civic responsibilities. Of the three business references, a former co-worker, a former boss, and a former subordinate would be ideal. Of course, do not put your present position in jeopardy--if you do not get this job, you'll still need your present job! Potential employers are understanding of this situation.
  • "If you could start over, what would you do differently in your career?"
  • "What questions didn't I ask that you expected?"

Again, the key to a successful interview is three-fold: to understand the employers' needs, to convey your experience in terms of his need (make a match), and to determine if this is a suitable position for you. Above all, be you, be honest, and listen!


Every candidate should have a list of questions to ask a potential employer during the interview process. These questions, if well prepared, can bring your resume to the top of a stack of equally qualified candidates, or perhaps even gain you a higher salary when an offer is made. Your questions should be asked toward the end of the interview, or offered during "dead" spaces to prompt additional conversation and interest. Timing is everything!

Prepare questions you need answered in order to determine if this is the job for you. Listen intently during the interview...some of your questions may be answered without asking, but more questions may arise during the course of your conversation.

Ten to twelve questions are enough. Following is a listing of suggested questions...keep in mind that some of these may not be appropriate for your situation--keep your wits about you during your interview and decide if any of these suggestions are applicable to you. If you have additional questions, ask your recruiter, or save those for the second interview, or when an offer is secured.

General Guidelines:

  • Prepare for the interview.
  • Don't just ask--listen, too!
  • Do not ask too many questions--this is an interview, not an inquisition! No interviewer can fail to be impressed, however, when your questions are thoughtful and serious.
  • Do not ask about salary, benefits, or vacation--you don't want to give the impression that you are salary/benefit-motivated or the short-term, non-commital type. The employer or your recruiter will initiate these questions. Bill Radin, a career development consultant, suggests that you take the John F. Kennedy approach to interviewing: "Ask not what your company can do for you; ask what you can do for your company."
  • Do your research on the company. It is quite impressive to an interviewer that you took the time to prepare for the interview. Don't make your statement too obvious, but make a smooth transition into it such as, "In my research on industry trends, I see where your company has partnered with ABC Company for a strong technological presence..." or, "I read that your company has been fairly aggressive in the delivery of its products through fairly innovative technology...". You are indicating interest in the company, instead of what's only best for you.
  • Create a dialog. Ask questions that require more than a "yes" or "no".
  • Ask job relevant questions focusing on the company, products, services, people, projects and technology. Ask the interviewer how he got to his position and what he likes and dislikes about his job.
  • At the end of the interview, ASK for the job. "I feel confident that I could benefit your organization and would appreciate the opportunity to do so. This position is a great match for me also. Is there anything else you need answered in order to evaluate my suitability for the position?"
  • Be you, be honest, and listen!

Company and Departmental Questions:

  • What are the short and long-term goals of the company and this department?
  • What are the company and departmental strengths?
  • What areas within the company and this department need to be strengthened?
  • What accounts for the success of the company and this department?
  • Where does the company think this department could make effective contributions?
  • What new technologies do you feel are essential in order to maintain or increase our position in the marketplace?
  • What is the cultural environment of the company?
  • Where does this department fit into the company's organizational hierarchy, and where would this person fit on the organizational chart?
  • Has the company experienced any downsizing or layoffs in the past few years, and how does the company handle that?

Position Questions:

  • Why do you want someone for this job? What qualifications are you looking for?
  • What are the most important issues facing your department, and how can I help accomplish these objectives?
  • - What are your biggest problems? (You don't want to be walking into a hopeless situation!)
  • Will I be inheriting any projects and what are the most pressing needs of the projects? What are the time frames for completing these projects?
  • What exactly would you like to have me accomplish in this position?
  • What are your short- and long-term goals for the person in this position?
  • What do you think will be the greatest challenge or problem the person in this position will face in the first few months and year? What are some examples of the best results produced by people in this job?
  • Is there any particular skill or attitude you feel is critical to geting the job done?
  • Was there someone in this job previously? Did they leave, get promoted, or is this a newly created position? If they left, why? How long has this position been open? Have internal candidates been considered and have any surfaced that may be able to fill this position? How many people have held this position in the past 5 years, and where are these people now? (Most of the time, if you ask the first question, the interviewer will continue to answer most of the other questions.)
  • How does the person in this position interact with other team members within the department and the company? How would you describe the group dynamics?
  • Is supervision a part of the responsibilities of this position, and if so, what are the titles of those to be supervised? What are the group dynamics?
  • Who does this position report to?
  • What support or training will be available to ensure success in this position?
  • Would you describe a typical day on the job?
  • Is there a unique aspect of my skill or background that you'd like to utilize?

Opportunity Questions:

  • What are the common denominators of the company's most successful employees?
  • What advancement opportunities exist for the person who is successful in this position?
  • What is this department's philosophy about training and development?
  • In your opinion, what specific aspects of my background make me right or wrong for this position? (Here is your opportunity clear up any misunderstandings or reservations the interviewer may have.)

Remember, this is not only the interviewer's opportunity to see if you are right for the position, but it's your opportunity to see if you would like the job, the company and your potential new boss! Ask the questions that will help you determine this.


The number one and most obvious reason that a candidate doesn't get the job is lack of the appropriate technical skill. Sometimes you can help that and sometimes you can't. However, there are other reasons that candidates get disqualified--and these can be helped! Employers list the following as reasons they didn't select a candidate for the job:

  • Not listening.
  • Answering only "yes" or "no" to questions.
  • Asking questions with negative overtones. This indicates possible attitude problems.
  • "What can you do for me?" attitude. This is a common mistake of less experienced candidates.
  • Negative comments of past employers or co-workers.
  • Poor eye contact. Be sure you look at the person interviewing you.
  • Failing to ask suitable questions about the job responsibilities--or to ask any questions at all. (see Questions to Ask section)
  • Passivity, lack of interest or enthusiasm.
  • A lack of preparation by revealing limited knowledge about the company. A lack of preparation in knowing how to answer questions.
  • Late to the interview. If you are going to be late for unforseen, but explainable reasons, call either your recruiter or the person you will be interviewing with, and let them know your estimated time of arrival.
  • No personal goals, career objectives or direction for the future.
  • Showing too much concern about money or raising questions over salary, benefits, vacations, or work hours early in the interview process, indicating that you are money motivated and bought easily.
  • Lack of confidence, nervous, fidgety.
  • Overly concerned about promotional opportunities.
  • Overbearing, conceited, arrogant, aggressive, "know-it-all" candidates.
  • Acting as the buyer instead of the seller.
  • Discussing the proprietary information of former employers. You will be respected if you indicate that you cannot talk about these details. If you talk about former employers, the interviewer thinks you will probably talk about their proprietary information some day, too.
  • Failing to communicate or express thoughts clearly. Often, poor eye contact communicates this thought. (see Dressing & Etiquette section)
  • Afraid to admit to an area of weakness. Oftentimes, this is conveyed to an interviewer when a candidate inflates knowledge about a particular subject. We all have areas of weakness--it's OK to admit to them. Who wants to hire someone who is perfect anyway? (see Questions You May Be Asked section)
  • Poor personal appearance--it'll get you every time!
  • Weak handshake. (see Dressing & Etiquette section)
  • Resumes or applications that are sloppy, not legible, or grammatically incorrect.
  • Misleading the interviewer or not being truthful during the interview. Also remember that references will be checked, there may be a request for transcripts, and background and drug checks will most likely be conducted. Always be truthful! What your mom taught you about 'it never pays to lie' is true!
  • Talking first, listening second.
  • Interrupting the interviewer.

Keep your momentum going with each person with whom you are interviewing. That can be hard, since some interviews last all day. Be will work to your benefit. Remember that in today's market, companies often have the luxury of choosing between two or more equally qualified candidates. Candidates that are personable, thoughtful, truthful, and sincere may have an edge over those who choose to do otherwise. Employers hire people they want to work with--they can always hire someone with acceptable skills. If you are both competent and liked, you have the upper hand.


A thank you letter should be prepared and mailed within 24 hours of the interview. It should be personalized--not a standard form letter. It should include the following:

1) an appreciation for the interviewer's time
2) a statement affirming your interest in the available position and company
3) a statement emphasizing your most impressive qualifications and how they could benefit the organization.

An appropriate thank you letter will begin by including your name, address, city, state, zip and the date, and will look something like the following:

Mr. Tom Smith
Applications Director
XYZ Company
14970 Columbus Road
Memphis, TN 38104

Dear Mr. Smith:

Thank you for your time yesterday. I enjoyed interviewing with you and your technical staff for the senior level development position yesterday.

The interview gave me more insight into what you and your team are accomplishing with the delivery of your ERP system, and what I could contribute to the departmental goals. My education and application development skills with large systems fit well with the job requirements you and I discussed, and since I have lead a similar effort in my current position, I am certain that I could make a significant contribution to your department.

I am very interested in the position, and would enjoy working with you and your technical staff. This is the opportunity I have been seeking. Please feel free to call me if I can provide you with any additional information. Thank you again for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.


Jim Candidate

Often the question is asked about e-mailing a thank you, which is appropriate, especially in our wireless technology driven world.. However, taking the time to write a thank you and send via snail mail is still the preferred method.

You've Received the Job Offer--Now What: Getting Through the Final Phase


Now What?

It seems that you and your potential employer are interested in proceeding. But you haven't said "Yes" yet. There are decisions to be made. Is this the right position for you? Does the new job meet the criteria you spelled out when you first began your search? Will this job increase your personal and professional level of satisfaction? Is this job just more of your current responsibilities except at a different location? What offer would you be willing to accept as a fair offer?

A Good Way to Keep Score

To evaluate the pros and cons of the offer, consider using the following Position Comparison and Compensation Guide. The guide can be scored in two different ways. You can either tally the totals (the best job has the highest test score), or you can use the test as a simple way to examine your priorities. Keep in mind that a higher score in favor of the new company is not always a reason to make a job change. Take travel as an example. If the new job requires more travel but more travel could ruin your marriage, this is not the job for you.

Money Matters

When considering compensation, understand that employers try to maintain some sort of internal equity within their department. In order to insure internal equity, some companies are allowed creative ways of compensating such as bonuses (sign-on, performance, discretionary, relocation) and/or accelerated reviews. They may also offer early participation in the company stock, pension or benefit plans. Of course, it also depends on the actual position being offered. In your compensation evaluation, consider the following:

  • Determine your bottom line figure in advance of receiving the offer. Bottom line doesn't mean that you really want $54,000, but you would think about $53,000, or settle for $52,000. Bottom line means one dollar more than the figure you would positively walk away from. Setting a bottom line clarifies your sense of worth, and prevents unnecessary negotiation. To prevent unnecessary negotiation, set your bottom line in advance. Let your bottom dollar be known. In this instance, tell your recruiter your bottom line. Recruiters are not trying to manipulate or conspire with an employer for a "lowball offer". The recruiter is making a good faith effort to put two interested parties together. Employers can get very irritable when a candidate wants to "think it over" or keeps coming back with new demands. Even if you eventually get what you want, the negative impression you created will hover over you like a dark cloud after you've been hired-and that's no way to start out with your new employer! By letting everyone know your bottom line, you've laid your cards on the table in good faith, and have been decisive.
  • Look for ways to increase your overall yearly compensation, rather than your annual salary.
  • Also take into consideration other economic factors such as cost of living, benefits, relocation expenses, bonuses, reviews, stock options, etc.
  • If the offer is less than your bottom line, you can reject the offer or share the bottom line figure with the hiring officials, giving them an opportunity to offer more.
  • Be careful when negotiating salary-avoid badgering-it can leave a negative impression on your new employer if you finally do decide to go to work for them. Having a recruiter to work with is an invaluable resource during this phase of the employment process.

In your determination, also consider other employment factors such as:

  • Position, title and responsibility
  • New technology and training
  • Promotion opportunities
  • Vacation
  • Work schedule
  • Location
  • Travel
  • Organization

Don't Resign Yet

Before you hand in your resignation, understand that offers are usually contingent on one or more of the following:

  • Passing a physical examination
  • Documenting your citizenship or immigration status
  • Obtaining a security clearance
  • Undergoing a thorough background investigation in which your credit history, police records and travel history might be examined
  • Verifying your academic credentials, and/or
  • Providing proof of your past employment salary or military service

Keep In Mind

It's not unusual for the hiring cycle to last weeks or even months-it's sad, but true! Hopefully, that won't be the case for you. Begin preparing in your mind when you make the decision to interview that you may be changing jobs. It takes most people time to come to terms with change. Don't wait until the last minute and decide that you don't really want to change jobs. Tell your recruiter your fears. Your recruiter should be equipped to walk through the process with you and answer any questions you have about this change.

You and your new employer may need to involve yourselves in some creative compensation. However, most deals come together easily and without hassle.


Congratulations on your recent offer! Your new employer is excited about having you fill what they consider to be a significant position within their organization, and are eager for your arrival. You are now faced with how to properly resign, and we'd like to offer some suggestions. When handled properly, your resignation can be the opportunity to leave your career with your present company on a positive note, and transition smoothly into your new position.

Make your resignation in writing, and then follow up with a verbal resignation. Make your letter concise, formal, and professional, remembering that it will end up in your personnel records. The following letter is an example of a good, formal resignation letter:

Your Full Name
City, State, Zip


Hiring Authority's Full Name & Title
Company Name
City, State, Zip

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Last Name):

During my tenure here at (Company Name), I have enjoyed the opportunity to work and grow as a professional under your guidance and leadership. However, I will be making a change in career direction. I have accepted an excellent opportunity and am committed to the job change. I am appreciative of the opportunities you have given me, and will do whatever is necessary to help you in my transition. My last date will be (give date).


(Sign your full name)

Type Your Full Name

Here are some additional tips you may need to know when resigning:

  • Timing is everything. Plan to resign two weeks prior to your scheduled start date, unless you plan to take a brief vacation or need time to move. Meet privately with your supervisor and submit your resignation verbally and in writing. Be firm and concise in your resignation, leaving no room for a counteroffer. A two-week notice is customary-a longer notice can be difficult and uncomfortable for you. Any notice longer than two-weeks only benefits your current employer, giving them opportunities to persuade you to stay.
  • Beware of probing questions about your new opportunity. Do not disclose salary, title or the company-your current employer could use them to gather information so that they can come up with an attractive counteroffer.
  • Occasionally a company will request that you not serve out your notice but leave immediately. Do not take it personally. It is likely that your new employer will be glad for you to start your new position immediately.
  • Offer to do what you can to ensure that your current projects get completed or passed on to other employees in a timely and efficient manner.
  • Submit to an exit interview, if one is requested. Be truthful, but conscientious, in your responses. This employer will always be one of your career references. Even though many companies have adopted the policy of only giving employment dates to anyone checking references, there are some who will talk!
  • Be guarded when talking with peers. Resist any temptation to share things that could leave an unfavorable impression of you after you are gone.
  • Request information about COBRA (continuing insurance coverage) if your new insurance is not effective immediately.

By using this resignation approach, you are letting your current employer know these five things: 1) you are appreciative, 2) you are changing your career direction (and yes, a move to another company is a change in career direction), 3) that this will be an excellent opportunity for you, 4) that you are willing to help them in the transition, and 5) you are committed to the job change. Informing them in this manner should prevent your resignation being taken as a personal issue. Remember, when you resign in a positive and professional way after having been a productive and effective employee, the best employers will be sad to see you go, but glad to see you progress in your career-they want the best for you. Keep thinking forward to the new people you'll meet, the new skills you'll acquire, and the new opportunities and challenges that await you.


Counteroffers are a defensive tactic used by your current employer aimed at encouraging you to stay once you have stated your intent to leave. Many companies ask you to stay, because it's in their best interest for you to stay. Consider what they may be thinking:

  • "It's expensive to hire and train someone else...and I just don't have the time or budget to do that right now."
  • "Now my project's going to get behind-if I can just convince him to stay until the project is over, or until I can find someone else to replace him."
  • "I have too much work already-and I certainly don't have enough time to do his work, too."
  • "What will my boss think when he knows I've lost a valuable employee-will they 'lose' me, too?"
  • "Boy, this isn't going to help departmental morale."
  • "The timing is really lousy-I can't fill the openings I have, much less add this one to the list."

You also need to be aware of the tactics some employers use to get you to stay (and they'll say it with all sincerity):

  • "Aren't you happy here? We were under the impression that everything was going well…let's talk about what we can do for you."
  • "You know, we were just getting ready to do some expansion, and had you in mind for a particular position-it would mean a promotion and more money for you. Can't we just discuss it before you make your final decision?"
  • "You're due for a raise soon-let's go on and put your raise into effect this pay period."
  • "We were going to promote you in a couple of weeks, but with all the meetings lately, I just haven't had a chance to sit down and tell you."
  • "The President/VP/Director wants to meet with you before you make your decision final."

There are potential implications or risks of accepting a counteroffer:

  • Will your loyalty be a concern for your employer in the days ahead?
  • Is the counteroffer just giving your current employer enough time to find our replacement while you allow a good opportunity to pass by?
  • Will you be let go from the company payroll when your salary becomes an issue?
  • If the company faces financial hardships in the future, will you be the first one let go?
  • Will your counteroffer be used against you at your regular scheduled review?
  • Will you feel obligated to stay with them down the road, when you later feel it is time to move on to another opportunity?
  • Consider the effect this will have on peer relationships within our organization once current employees learn what the company has done for you.
  • Could the counteroffer be your next raise coming early?
  • And the big question-will you have to threaten to quit every time you want a promotion or raise?

Be armed with information-the more you know and understand about resignations and counteroffers, the better prepared you will be to handle them in a professional, career-enhancing way. Take the emotion out of the decision and make your choice objectively. If a counteroffer is presented, consider if in six months time if you'll still be faced with the same issues that prompted you to make the decision to leave in the first place. Expect your company to attempt to keep you-you've provided them with a valuable skill and they will be sorry to see you go. Do your best to help your company during your transition, and then move forward to what lies ahead.

It's simple human nature to feel some hesitation at leaving-after all, this is the place you've hung your hat and a place that you've grown accustomed. However, changing jobs is almost key to a growing, professional executive career. Make new goals and plans with your new employer. And CONGRATULATIONS on your new career direction!


Culture shock is what new employees often experience the first week or so in their new position. There are so many new things to adjust to--people, personalities, schedules, technologies, policies, procedures, etc.

The best way to work through culture shock is to remain focused. Under your supervisor's directions, identify exactly what your priorities should be initially. Talk about specific projects and discuss impending deadlines. Break the time line into specific steps you need to take. Initially, you will want to give periodic updates to your supervisor so that immediate correction can be taken, if needed. These updates also validate that you are on the right track and doing what is expected. Regular communication with your supervisor is key!

Most problems arise within the first 30 days on your new job. This is often due to miscommunicaiton or environmental differences. Please don't hesitate to call us and use us as a sounding board. We will talk through any concerns or questions you may have during this transition phase. We will be glad to help you in any way possible.

Culture shock is natural and expected, so give yourself time. By talking with your supervisor frequently, most misunderstandings should resolve themselves.