Hopefully most hiring managers don’t do this on purpose, but candidates frequently sign up for a job to find something completely different than they expected on day one in the office.
What are some possible reasons for this, and what can you do to reduce the risk of it happening to you?
Internal reasons: An infrastructure can change, and if key-players leave—or join—a company, this can have an impact on your future role. Strategy can be revised for whatever reason and departments can be outsourced, divisions can be closed or sold. Major investments which were approved when you were hired (and meant to be used to pay your salary) can be cut.
External reasons: The economic environment can change fast (have a look what happened out there in the last 12 months). The loss of a major client can have a huge impact on entrepreneurial decisions. Depending on where you are based or where your biggest clients or suppliers are, political factors can have an impact on strategic decisions or on how you do business together.
What can you do to reduce the risks?
1. Ask specific questions: “How will my performance be measured?” or “Which criteria will define my success or my failure?" and “How might the organization develop over the next months and how could this affect the job?”
2. Ask general questions: “What can change from now until then?” or “What could go wrong?”
3. Do your homework: Many jobs do not have a job description, and for positions on senior level, you can't ask for a description if you want to look credible. However, 80 percent of what you are supposed to do should be clear in advance and clear answers should be given to your questions. If the hiring manager is not able to tell you, this is not a good sign and can be an indicator that things will change.
Surprises are mostly good for birthday parties and mostly bad in the business world. If your job content changes during the first weeks, this will almost inevitably be bad.
On the one hand, we must understand that the future is unpredictable and that in rough times, things can change fast. On the other hand, we have to take control of our careers. We don't want to feel paranoid, but as Benjamin Franklin put it, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Do your homework and try to reduce the risks of bad surprises.
Want to read more? Please visit my blog www.MyJobThoughts.com | Career advice from a headhunter
Great post. I think it is also important to note that sometimes hiring managers can have a false sense of what the job really is. The job description may say one thing, but the reality is that the environment force the position to be something completely different. In a past company I worked for, my manager had not had a lot of recruiting experience therefore was unrealistic about the recruiting positions he was hiring for. He did know the job details, but was unaware of other factors in the office that made the opportunity different than what he was selling.
Agree. And when humans don't know something, sometimes they improvise.
This is actually an additional point why surprises can occur: the person who does the interview just doesn't know the answer and assumes, improvises or guesses the answer...
Good advice. My own experiences have taught me to ask better questions at interview. Questions like
Yes they come across as a bit forward, maybe even pushy, but if they want a yes man, they can interview the next guy...
Asking those sort of questions should also cover Ryan's "unaware" hiring manager. If they "um" and "erm" a lot then at best they haven't prepared and at worst there's a problem.
And if it DOES all go wrong six months down the line, don't let the answer to "Why didn't you tell me?" be "Because you never asked!"
Good questions, Nigel! Thanks