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May 17, 2006

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Thanks, this is timely for me. I have been struggling with when in the process to ask for a salary range. I've certainly wasted my time and other people's time by not asking ahead of time, and getting to the interview and realizing that they're not paying enough for me to consider accepting the job.

This afternoon, I just sent an email to a contact person for a job I'm interviewing for next week, asking the salary range. I hope they don't take it amiss, but I also don't want to go to the trouble (and stress) of going to the interview, only to realize that they're paying only 60% of my current salary or some such thing.

Great points. I've been interviewing a lot of candidates recently, and I've seen many of those mistakes repeated.

The point about doing research into the potential employer is particularly on point. Many candidates that I talk to these days don't really know what my company does or what our product is. Huh? Wouldn't that be important to you when you're evaluating an opportunity with my company? Especially in high-tech, where I work, that's pretty important. As you said, it's not difficult to do.

I think there's a larger mistake at the root of the lack of research, though: applicants consider themselves passive participants in the interviewing process. Instead, a good applicant understands that they are interviewing the company just as much as the company is interviewing them. To that end, they should do research in advance so that they can get a feel for what the company and its products are about. They should also ask smart questions of their interviewers designed to answer questions like:
- What kind of professional growth is possible here?
- What's the work environment like? Do I fit?
- What's my potential boss like to work for?
- How is the company doing?

I always leave time for the candidate to ask me questions, because this is important. I'm stunned at the number of candidates who simply don't have anything to ask, or who just think up some wimpy motherhood-and-apple-pie question at the spur of the moment. Those candidates who demonstrate interest and some ambition through their research and questions score extra points with me.

--
Matt Laswell

I interviewed someone a couple of weeks ago for a position with my firm. When I asked what he knew about our company he said, "Not much really...". He hadn't even bothered to check out our website and this is a six-figure job! Interview over.

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