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Etiquette when interviewing with a competitor.

#1 Etiquette when interviewing with a competitor.
13/09/2009 11:42


I’m interviewing with a competitor (my first move post grad scheme) and wanting to know what the etiquette is – particularly around:

- Naming previous/current clients – or should you just refer to them as a ‘global telcomms provider’ or ‘central government department’ etc

- Detailing any offering development work you’ve been involved in

- Saying why you want to leave – I.e something better than I’ve had an endless run of crappy projects

- Disclosing your current salary (is honesty the best policy?) and how much of a jump should you be requesting?


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#2 RE: Etiquette when interviewing with a competitor.
14/09/2009 10:24

Anon to Interviewee (#1)

I would suggest that you try to avoid naming current clients at an initial stage of interviewing as it demonstrates your ability to remain confidential.

Not sure what you mean by "offerrings" but if you are talking about propositions that your firm has developed for the market that you hve lead/been involved in I would absolutely talk about your role in these.

You could avoid the wnat to leave question (which will come up) by saying why you want to join your competitor. Do your homework on them and give reasons why you think they are the company for you and crucially what you bring to them.

Re: Salary disclosure, I would be honest. If you wnat to round numbers up so be it but I suggest you stay within the bounds of reality. There have been some good surveys on this site that give you a feel for levels of salary but my general rule of thumb is move for +15% however you may find more pressure given the current economic conditions

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#3 RE: Etiquette when interviewing with a competitor.
14/09/2009 12:48

Anon to Anon (#2)

Regarding the endless run of crappy projects, why not just be honest? I love it when an obviously good candidate comes to me and says they want to move because they're just bored/demotivated or whatever or that they think their boss is a knob because he slated them in their appraisal even though they did nothing wrong (for example). It's down to earth and honest to hear people talk like that. It's certainly better (in my opinion) than hearing the usual lies trotted out about "Well I want to advance my career by joining Smalltime Consulting Group Ltd because you are the bestest company in the whole wide world and I have a deep, strong passion for pursuing excellence in the supply chain management sector like you say you do on your website and it's all I ever wanted to do since I was 5 years old and I would feel like Leona Lewis winning the X factor if I got this job"

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#4 RE: Etiquette when interviewing with a competitor.
14/09/2009 19:13

Mr Cool to Interviewee (#1)

Hi Interviewee,

My two bit opinion…..

Clients – Absolutely the norm to refer to them by company name and to explain the meat of the project, otherwise the interviewer cannot gauge your experience. Feel free to retain the exact name of client individuals until after the first interview – it is common technique to harvest this info for bus dev purposes and you should be wary of this. Don’t get defensive – if the interviewer demands names, then provide the name of the most senior sponsor and merely state that you feel you need to respect client confidentiality with regard to the other names.

Bus dev – depends! If you work on some propositions and then someone buys them – talk about it! If you were on some internal IP/proposition development team because you were on the bench, and no one ever bought the pitch, beware – best to call a spade a spade and refer to that sort of activity as the sort of thing that’s making you seek a move.

Salary – do yourself a favour. NEVER base your request on what you’re earning plus some arbitrary percentage increase. Never think like this. Start thinking about how much value you will be adding to your new employer. Will your new billing rate be x% higher than your current one? Will you be leading a team for the first time? Will you be bringing niche knowledge that will allow them to win a certain sort of business for the first time? Will you be the final piece in a jigsaw they’ve been putting together? If these are the sort of questions you can’t answer by the time you get to the nippy part of the salary discussion then you’re going to be forever stuck in the salary mid-point your whole life. Don’t tell yourself that its too early in your career to start thinking like this – it’s never too early to start thinking of yourself as an asset.

USE the interview process to work out what value you might ask – make sure the interviewer sees the same value. If a headhunter ever demands a figure before the interview, then don’t crumble – explain that you need to understand the role and the value that you will bring. If they insist on treating you as a cog in a big machine, and you go along with it, then you will soon find yourself as a cog in a big machine and under-valued accordingly.

Good luck in the interview.

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