Occasionally students ask us whether or not we think a specific company offers a legitimate employment opportunity. Most often this occurs after a student has been interviewed, and something about the experience just doesn’t sit right with the student. During these type of conversations I think that the career advisors at UW-Whitewater, such as myself, can assist you best by asking many questions to help you think through the type of employment situation that best fits your professional goals and interests.
For example, some people aren’t bothered by and even excel in employment where all or most of your pay is based upon commission, whereas others will avoid this arrangement at all cost. A reasonable goal, therefore, is to select an employment situation that best meets your expectations for reasonable pay and your personal willingness to take risks.
With this in mind, here are a few of the issues and questions to remember as you talk with employers:
Is the company representative being forthright with the information they provide regarding your pay as well as other aspects of employment? It’s perfectly fine for a company to base their pay to you on how well you perform. Generally this occurs in sales positions, where sales reps earn a percentage of the sales they make, and we all understand that there is both an inherent risk and reward involved with this sort of arrangement. The important thing is that the information the company hiring representative provides you is clear. There may be a few companies who will want you to make an up-front financial investment to pay for your training or equipment, and if this is the case, this should be transparent as well so you can make an informed decision.
Are you being asked to make an unreasonably quick decision on accepting employment? If you interview and are offered the job on Monday, and they want you to let them know by the end of the day on Tuesday, then I suspect you may feel a bit rushed and uneasy about employment with this company. If you feel pressured to accept before the offer is recinded, then I’d be wary about employment with this company.
Things that make you go ‘hmmmm…’ While it may be acceptable practice in some industries to hold interviews in coffee shops or other public settings, generally speaking most recruiters will find a private, professional setting to conduct their interviews. Similarly, it may be alright to hold interviews at a hotel, but they should reserve a meeting room in which to conduct the interview, not invite you to their room for the interview. You want to use your intuition and ask yourself if the situation “feels right”. Often business is conducted outside of the traditional 9-5 workday, but the vast majority of hiring practices tend to occur within the work day and week.
If the hiring representative asks you questions that don’t feel right, or are illegal, then I’m not sure I’d want to work for that company. Trust your gut on this one, and be informed about the type of questions that you should never be asked during an interview.
Definitely seek out the advice of the staff of Career & Leadership Development whenever you have questions about finding the fit that’s best for you.
Photo by Dave Fayram.