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M&M suggested that discussion of benefits during an interview is unprofessional. They also said that it is not necessary to receive a written offer prior to accepting a new position. These statements left me with a couple concerns.

Do you think it's inappropriate to ask about family time flexibility and/or travel requirements during an interview? These things are extremely important to me, and are not points I can compromise on at present. It seems to me that I'd be doing myself and the interviewer a favor if I ruled myself out early for a job I couldn't accept.

Secondly, on the written offer, I've just seen two people get burnt by not getting one before they started:

One friend was offered a job, put in notice and left her current job, and then found herself with a different (and lesser) title than she'd accepted, and appropriately diminished responsibilities. She found herself stuck in the new position since her old job had already back-filled her.

The second situation involves a family member. She took a job and after working for a month or so, her supervisor was suspended on suspicion of illegal activities. She then found out that this supervisor was paying her under the table, and had officially recorded her as a volunteer! It took her more than a month to get ANY back-pay, and her new manager cut her salary because what she was offered exceeded their typical wages.

These two events have scared the dickens out of me! I would hate to find myself in similar circumstances, and it seems the only way I could avoid it would be to request a written statement including wages, benefits, title, and responsibilities.

But I assume M&M have good reasons for saying that I shouldn't request this documentation. I'm just afraid it would be me and my family in a risky position.

thaGUma's picture

Two questions:
1. time and flexibility. Think from the employer's view. If they know time/flexibility is an issue in interview - no offer because it is easier to say no. After they decide you are the best candidate then your needs are weighted against the fact you are the one they want. Wait.

2. Written offer not what you thought the verbal was. You need to make sure you go through things in enough detail to send an email a few days after the verbal offer. A company does not usually renage on an offer.

The idea is that you are ready to leave and have a few months money avialable in case something happens.

TomW's picture

To address your points:

1) It's a little hard to say, since you don't give us a lot of information. Do you mean that you need to take random time off to drop kids off at events and you are not willing to travel for work? If so, the first one is about benefits, the second is about your own life commitments or choices, not benefits. Not being able/willing to travel is not a benefit, but it could rule you out immediately, depending on the position.

The purpose of the interview is to get an offer. I would not bring up anything about benefits or compensation in the interview unless directly asked about it. That includes asking "do you offer flex time?".

2) No written offer. I can't really offer anything here. I've accepted some in writing, some verbal, and never had a problem.

US41's picture

If you ask me about benefits, vacation, work from home, leaving early if you work through lunch, casual dress, or anything related during the interview - you are finished. All done. That's it. Forget it. I have foolishly hired such people too many times only to find myself firing them later for low performance.

Please ask about these things separately.

If you ask me to make the offer in writing, I'll likewise assume you are going to be a high maintenance jerk who is going to be sending me carefully worded CYA emails and passive aggressive nonsense all the time.

Forget it. The other people who interviewed didn't do these things. I'll go hire one of them.

Remember that you are competing for a job. You are trying to beat out the others for it. Making yourself a pain is not an effective approach for being the most competitive.

jhack's picture

Changing the job when you arrive is a risk at all companies; it's rare that it's the first day, but it happens. The issue is how it's handled ("We're keeping your salary, and our change in strategy means we need you to cover this..." is very different from "Go file these papers...")

Under the table? Never heard of such a thing. It was obviously illegal (supervisor was fired!) and clearly not something you should assume everywhere you go.

US41 is right: take the high road, have trust.

John