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Tackling Dilemmas in the Interview Process

  |  March 22, 2012   |  Comments

More "Would You Rather" questions with your interviewer.

Welcome back for Round 2 of "Would You Rather - Job Search Edition." In case you missed the first round, we are tackling the most common dilemmas in the interview process and bringing logic to the game of subjectivity. In this edition, we will address major questions that come up all the time and will continue to in this job market.

One of the most common tricky situations is when you get a job offer while working and then receive a counteroffer from your current boss. The question is:

Would you rather accept your company's counteroffer or take the new job?

In my years of experience, I have learned that the answer is never, ever in the two offers on the table. As much as you want to compare and contrast the numbers, you won't find your answer on the paper. The key is taking a step back and asking yourself why you interviewed for this new job in the first place. Everyone looks around for one reason or another, a reason that manifests itself in the day-to-day, the minutia of the work week. If you aren't excited to get out of bed in the morning and get to work, a counteroffer isn't going to change that. Your coworkers will still drive you crazy after the counteroffer and if you accept it, you'll find yourself in an awkward position where you want to leave your company ASAP, but just accepted a raise in money and expectations.

If the new job was brought to you (for example, a good friend working on something new and asking you to check it out), then you never really wanted to leave your company to begin with. A raise is nice, but you could be stirring the pot with a boss you already like at a company where you're already happy.

In summation, a counteroffer only fogs up your mind's eye and shouldn't be used as a deciding factor.

Here's another query that circles the start-up world daily:

Would you rather wear a suit or jeans to an interview when the company dress code is casual?

With the myriad of small start-up companies surfacing, the classic suit and tie dress code at the work place is evaporating into jeans and a collared shirt. However, don't confuse yourself into thinking that you must dress for the interview the way you will dress to work everyday. The interviewer isn't looking to see if you will look and act like the rest of the company on a daily basis, but rather how you look and act in the interview. Wearing a suit and dressing more formally conveys a seriousness that is vital for the interview. Once you have the job, your work and progress can demonstrate said seriousness, but before you can do any of that work, your interview can let them know you're legit.

I firmly believe that you can't go wrong wearing a suit to an interview. Some of my candidates express concerns that they will come off as too buttoned-up for the work place, but I remind them not to button up their personalities with their suit jacket. Be social and amicable and your interviewer will see that you are professional and serious (suit) yet friendly and casual (tone).

Would you rather take a higher paying job with a lower title or vice versa?

The first thing to remember in this situation is that the digital media world is teeming with various titles and the essence of a job is in the responsibility, not the business card. Managers oftentimes are individual contributors, and vice presidents work at home, miles away from the next employee. Going from account manager to junior account executive to account executive to regional sales manager is an example of positive growth. If you then go from regional sales manager to account manager, it could look fishy and be a red flag on your resume. Or so you think…

There are plenty account managers with far more responsibility and higher salaries than directors; enough to reassure you that titles are particular to their companies. Titles are ethereal and cash isn't; as long as you can back up your title with your compensation and job description, don't think twice about what seems to be a "lower" title.

If the job description and company excite you and the pay is higher, don't let titles get in the way of you making more money and growing in your career.

To wrap it up, always remember why you're looking at other jobs (or not); don't be scared of the suit because it doesn't suffocate your personality; and ignore titles because you can't cash them, only the checks they earn you.


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Alan Cutter

In the jungle of recruiting, Alan Cutter is the lion. Alan founded New York City's premier digital media recruiting agency, AC Lion International, over 15 years ago and continues to lead the growing company as their fearless CEO. From search, ad agencies, and publishers to DSPs and third-party data providers, Alan steers AC Lion through the intricacies of the integrated and digital media space. With offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Israel, AC Lion has placed thousands of people and negotiated over $75 million in compensation. AC Lion was recently named one of the Top Ten Entrepreneurial Places to Work by NY Enterprise Report.

Prior to AC Lion, Alan was senior manager at OTEC and played an integral part in the company's evolution into HotJobs.com. Much of Alan's success can be attributed to his belief in and passion for people; ask any of Alan's clients, employees and he/she will speak volumes of their boss's care, consideration, as a compliment to his innovative thinking and out of the box problem solving capabilities.

If you don't see Alan in the office, you can find him in Long Beach with his wife, Jessica, two kids Cobi and Avra, and their beloved surfboards.

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