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I recently interviewed a candidate thoroughly over the phone, and determined he was qualified so called him in for an in-person interview.  At the end of the interview where I ask if the candidate has any questions, he proceeded to ask only about benefits he would receive, car allowance, health insurance, whether the health insurance includes vision, etc.  I was disappointed to hear this because up until this point I considered him a solid candidate.  The candidate told me (I didn't ask of course!) that he is 25 years old, so I'm not sure if I should attribute this to him being green or eliminate him as a result of this behavior. I'm really turned off when candidates ask about benefits before an offer is made or in lieu of asking about the company or the job.  It sends me the message that they are only focused on themselves and the money and benefits involved.  Any thoughts- if a candidate did this, would you eliminate him or her from contention?

jennrod12's picture

Two comments about that - being young he might not have his "interviewing etiquette" down well yet, but also, he may be at a stage where he's looking for his next career step and he might be interviewing at several firms.

If you're in a field where benefits vary (and since you mention car allowance it sounds like you are), then it would be a lot of interviewing for him to wait to find out what the benefits are until after an offer is made at each firm he's interviewing with. Maybe he wants to weed out the positions with lesser benefits, which would save him and you time (assuming your benefits do not measure up to industry standard).

I would hope that you have other ways of determining his character through-out the interview process and as long as he is passing them and seems like a good candidate, I would put him through to the next round. I would make sure everyone he's slated to interview with knows to look out for that "me-focus", though.

Jenn

TSJ72's picture

 I am not sure if this lines up with MT guidance, but I tend to think of an interview as a two-way street: you want to see if the candidate is a fit for your job/company and they need to find out if they like the job/company. In some cases benefits can be a deal breaker.  If health care is not offered for instance, the candidate may not be interested in the position.  Benefits can also be a clue to the culture of the company.  Also, most of the time benefits are not negotiable like salary is.

One way I have solved this in the past is to make sure that the candidate has an opportunity to talk with HR so they can ask those questions.  If they know ahead of time from the interview agenda that they will have this opportunity, then it is unlikely that they will ask you these questions.

mattpalmer's picture

Bottom Line Up Front: The statement "don't ask about benefits during the interview because it can be deemed unprofessional" does not imply the inverse statement "asking about benefits should be deemed unprofessional".

It is certainly true that the standard Manager Tools (or, rather, Career Tools) guidance is to not ask about benefits during the interview process, because there are more important things to ask about, and you want to make the best impression (and asking about "me me me" stuff does not do that).  The reasoning is that many hiring managers will see those questions as unprofessional, and it will hurt your chances of getting the offer (which is what interviewing is all about).

On the other hand, I've never heard any guidance from Manager Tools that, as a hiring manager, you should discount a candidate merely because they ask those questions.  There may be other reasons to reject that candidate, and if you hear these sorts of questions you may wish to probe further into a candidate's professional standards of behaviour to try and determine whether they are a good fit for your organisation, but the question "What are the benefits?" is not, prima facie, grounds for thinking less of a candidate.

Hearing guidance like "don't ask about benefits because it comes across as unprofessional", and then not thinking "that's unprofessional" when you hear the question asked, can be a tricky line to walk.  I know some of my attitudes have, for a time, been adversely shaped by these kind of apparent paradoxes.  What I found, after some serious consideration, is exactly what I stated in the title of this post: Manager Tools guidance isn't symmetric. The recommendations for behaviour in a certain situation is given because that behaviour is appropriate given how the world works today.  It is not a statement that this is the ideal state of affairs, forever and ever, amen.

The most stark example of this is given by the combination of "The Umbrella Story" (which, I'm surprised to realise, I haven't heard mentioned in a podcast for at least a month now.  I'm shocked!) and "Communication is what the listener does".  Consider the apparent paradox embodied by those two rules: how can you be responsible for how you feel about something that has been communicated to you (the moral of The Umbrella Story), if the person doing the communicating is responsible for the results of the communication?  Conversely, if the person I'm communicating to is responsible for how they feel about what I'm communicating, why do I have to care about how I communicate to them?

The answer is simply that neither of those two rules are supposed to be applied in reverse.  Having knowledge of the "rules of the game" (as delivered to us by Manager Tools) doesn't mean we can use those rules to "game the system".  I'm responsible for how I feel, because not everybody behaves as if communication is what the listener does.  At the same time, I have to communicate in a way that is effective to the recipient, because not everybody behaves as if they are responsible for how they feel.

gpeden's picture

 "Give me back my wheel". At this point all I hear is 'me, me, me' - and  in an interview its game over.  

(Virtually) Everyone on the planet has access to Manager / Career tools. So its not like 'we' have a 'secret' as MT practitioners. And the way you stop being 'green' and 'young' is by screwing up interviews like this and not getting the job and eventually realizing you are doing it wrong.  

If it were me I would be moving on to the next candidate and thanking the interview gods that I found out before I made a bad hire.

Thanks,

Jorge' (my 'dark' alter ego).

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mattpalmer's picture

I'll take all the good people you rejected for irrelevant reasons, coach them on their rough edges, and then kick your team's butt.

kthxbai,

Dark Matt

(7114 and owning it)

gpeden's picture

You are on.

Thanks,

George

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mattpalmer's picture

Do you think it'll ever become a serious spectator sport?  Just in case, I'll found EMPN (the "Effective Manager Programming Network") right now.

mike_bruns_99's picture

My vote is Matt.  (No offense to George)

The dude is 25.  When I was 25, I was an off the charts D/C.  I produced like crazy, but I couldn't influence anyone to save myself.  Luckily, I had a manager that took me under their wing, coached me and convinced me that relationships actually matter.  I've long-since moved-on and left the organization, but I would still follow them to hell and back.

Sorry George, but I think you seriously overestimate how rare good management and career performance is. MT helps, but most of the working world is blind.  MT gives us partial sight. Which makes us head and shoulders above everyone else.

 

 

gpeden's picture

 No offense taken.  I can't recommend Linda move forward with a hire that "really turned her off".  

So we can agree to disagree.

 

Thanks,

George

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