You’re in the middle of a job interview and the interviewer wants to pick your brain. You sense they want your expertise without paying for it.
“Real” consultants run into this challenge all the time. Most of us learn to charge for “diagnostic” or “test-drive” challenges. After all, we’re using up energy and delivering valuable information.
At a job interview, you may feel more constrained, especially if you need or really want the job. Here are some suggestions – but it’s always a judgment call. You’re on the scene. This book will help you get in touch with your intuition.
(1) Are these requirements common in your field and at your level? If not, recognize a red flag. For example, a senior manager normally would not be asked for a writing sample. You have to decide if the company is coming from left field… or if the HR people are incompetent or bored, but your own manager will be just fine.
(2)Did you initiate the contact through a back-door or informational interview approach? You may be selling the employer on creating a job, not just filling one. Some experts recommend using the opportunity to demonstrate your problem-solving skills by presenting yourself as a consultant, not a candidate.
(3) Are you being asked to disclose information about specific programs and processes from your current career or business? I’d view these requests as a danger signal. Your manager may be testing your loyalty and ethics…or displaying some peculiar value systems of her own.
(4) Are you asked to prepare a written report? Be sure to write your name and identifying information on every page.
Frankly, I would take a risk and ask, “If you implement my recommendations, what will my compensation look like?” But you’re “boots on the ground” so use your own judgment.
(5) Are you asked for on-the-spot recommendations to a specific, complex challenge?
This one is tough. You may be evaluated on how you approach the problem, such as the kinds of questions you ask. Or you might do better to say something like, “We had a similar problem in my last job. And here’s what I did…”
Let me hear from you: reply to this message and share your own thoughts. Do you have a whole different take on these questions? Let’s share!
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